To answer the question posed by the headline of this article: Any progress made in the proper disposal practices of ag plastics would go right back to square one.
Over the past three years, Revolution Plastics has offered a free dumpster service to Wisconsin farmers. The premise is simple; Revolution drops a dumpster off at your farm, you fill it with ag plastics such as grain bags and irrigation tape, and when it’s full you call them to come pick it up. From there they will dispose of it properly and move it out of the state. At the moment it is completely free of charge.
But without proper funding, it’s very possible that Revolution would no longer be able to offer its services for free, says Director of Operations Price Murphy. Recently a stakeholder meeting was held at the DNR building in downtown Madison with representatives of Revoltuion Plastics, DATCP, the DNR, Farm Bureau, landfill operators, farmers, and numerous county entities present.
This meeting was “all about reigniting the discussion around recycling plastic,” explained Murphy, “we’ve been recycling here in Wisconsin for three years, we’ve collected over 60 million pounds (of ag plastic) and we want to reinvigorate the story and make sure people know we are still here, still recycling plastic, and still trying to make a difference.”
During the meeting Murphy explained that Revolution is single-handedly footing the $4 million annual bill to operate the plastic disposal service. They would only like to pay about half of that. With that being the case, a couple questions arise. Where do they get $2 million from and what happens if Revolution doesn’t get that money?
Reps from DATCP that were at the meeting explained that as much as they would like to help keep this program going, they don’t think they will be able to find the millions Revolution is asking for. Multiple people in attendance suggested that farmers could pay for the disposal service rather it be free, to which Price said “that’s not off the table.”
Whether you think ag plastics is a pressing issue or not it is safe to say that their absence would send the crusade against the tough material to the depths of rock bottom. Thus far they have been the only ones willing to step up to the plate and offer a logistical way of disposal. If they leave it’s almost certain that many farmers would go right back to burning or burying the material. Or even worse, throw it in a landfill.
Ag plastics are not banned from landfills but that doesn’t mean they aren’t dangerous. In fact, the plastics have the potential to start landfills fires, explained President of the Associated Recyclers of Wisconsin, Meleesa Johnson.
Will many things in this world are certain, the future of the issue is undoubtedly uncertain.
To hear the complete audio story from the stakeholder meeting, click the play button below: