UMaine brings back greenhouse plastic recycling program

The program was designed with the goal of reducing at least one-third of Maine’s annual greenhouse plastic waste.

MAINE, USA — The University of Maine Cooperative Extension has brought its Greenhouse Plastic Recycling, or GPRprogram for a third year.

From now until Nov. 21, 13 sites across the state are collecting donations of old or unwanted plastic wrap used to cover agricultural structures such as greenhouses, high tunnels and hoop houses.

All that is required is to pre-register your plastic deposit in advance.

Matthew Wallhead, assistant professor of horticulture and ornamental horticulture specialist for UMaine Cooperative Extension, is one of the program organizers.

“It was moderately successful as a pilot program,” Wallhead said. “We have collected just over a thousand books each year.”

Wallhead said the goal is to expand the program to collect tens of thousands of pounds of plastic each year, which could account for at least a third of Maine’s annual greenhouse plastic waste.

Once the plastic is deposited, it is then taken to the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association (MOFGA) building in Unity. The plastic is then compacted and sent to another facility for recycling.

“Throughout the pandemic in particular, there has been a shortage of the resin needed to make plastics, so there has been more focus on recovering that material and finding other uses,” he said. Wallhead.

The plastic should be a clear low-density polyethylene #4 (LDPE #4) plastic. According to the University of Maine Cooperative Extension website, the film is generally 5 to 6 millimeters thick. The organizers ask that all donations be relatively clean and dry.

“Anything we can do to recycle and be more sustainable and keep things out of the landfill is just a win-win,” said Hannah Carter, dean of UMaine Cooperative Extension.

Carter said the program is funded by a grant from the Maine Department of Environmental Protection.

“It’s just a great opportunity to remember something that I think we do the most every day is really take that extra step to be kind to our great state,” Carter said.

For more information on the program and how to prepare your plastic for deposit, Click here.

For a list of drop off locations across the state, Click here.

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