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Film plastic recycling options expand in Wadena, Otter Tail, Todd counties

Recycling options for plastic film in Wadena, Otter Tail and Todd counties are making it easier than ever to get rid of the material and make it useful once more.

Plastic film truck at a farm.
Film plastic is dumped from 8-yard dumpsters into the top of the truck, which allows the driver to run all the controls from inside the cab.
Contributed by Otter Tail County
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WADENA — The Film Plastic Recycling Program that serves Otter Tail, Todd and Wadena Counties is ready to bring more collection sites on board. The program collects film plastic material from farms and boat storage facilities and delivers it to a regional collection hub in Sauk Center. The collected film plastic is used by Revolution Bag, located in Arkansas, to make commercial trash bags with up to 94% post-consumer content, according to an Otter Tail County news release.
Agricultural plastic, boat wrap, and other film plastics are a problem material due to the bulky nature of the waste, and the lack of convenient disposal options. Prior to the program that started in 2016, most agricultural film plastic was either landfilled or illegally burned on site, with no practical option for recycling. Otter Tail County received a grant last year to expand existing film plastic recycling efforts into a regional program with consistent monthly collection. Grant funds were used to purchase a truck dedicated to the program, and monthly collection has been ongoing since June of 2021. Currently, Otter Tail County manages the program and collects over 200 tons of film plastic annually from farms and boat storage facilities for recycling. With 50 additional containers available for collection sites in February, the amount collected is expected to increase to over 280 tons annually.
Sites such as farms or marinas that generate a large amount of film plastic material may qualify for an on-site container that will be serviced regularly. Smaller sites with film plastic waste or individuals may drop off the material for recycling at any Otter Tail, Todd, or Wadena County Transfer Station at no charge. Material accepted in the program includes silage plastic, bale wrap, and bunker cover (No scrim or net wrap), and boat wrap (cords cut off). Drip tape and greenhouse plastic are also accepted in the program.

Participating farmers and land owners can have an 8-yard dumpster on their property for designated recycling materials such as silage plastic and bale wraps.

“We are thrilled that Otter Tail County was able to receive this grant and keep the film plastic recycling program going,” said Assistant Director Zach Fjestad. “Additionally, we will add 50 more canisters to the program and with the ability to bring film plastic to the transfer stations, everyone should have access to recycle this material.”

The community events are on July 22 and August 3 and 10.

Generators of film plastic are overwhelmingly supportive of this recycling program as it takes care of a long-standing problem with disposal of this material. “Great program, no more unsightly piles of plastic around the feed site or stray pieces across the fields” said Brad Johnson, farmer in Orwell Township in southwest Otter Tail County. “We just wish it would have existed 10 years ago!”

For more information about the Film Plastic Recycling Program visit https://ottertailcountymn.us/film-plastic-collection/ . If you are interested in participating in this program, contact Zach Fjestad, Assistant Director for the Otter Tail County Solid Waste Department at 218-998-8950.

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