When spring arrives, down comes the overwintering film from nursery greenhouses. This plastic material is often relatively clean, especially when the bottom section in the dirt splash zone is cut off and separated. Hoop-house film is typically one consistent plastic type, low-density polyethylene (LDPE), which is recyclable. An estimated 500 tons of overwintering film goes to landfills in North Carolina each year. Some nurseries in North Carolina take this material to a recycler (many within a 45-minute drive) instead of the local landfill and make their green business greener.
Overwintering film can be recycled if collected in the appropriate manner
• Recyclers do not like dirt and contaminants such as staples, nails, wood stakes, excess moisture
• Cut off the bottom part of film in contact with ground that is splashed with mud and throw in trash
• Collect in dry weather, store under cover
• Secure on pallets
• If overwintering film has been up for many years and becomes brittle, the recycler may not accept it
• Call the recycler in advance and discuss
In the spring, you will be busy and will not have time to deal with a recycler. Talk to the recycler ahead of time in the winter months when you are not so busy. Invite the recycler to visit your farm. Many people try to reuse their overwintering film. This is a great idea, but if you store it too long it will not be acceptable for recycling.