Company launches 'farm-side' plastic recycling in Minnesota

Heavy plastic wrap is prolific on Minnesota farms where it's used for grain storage and other purposes. But Minnesota farmers haven't been able to recycle it — until now.

Earlier this month, farmers in Winona County lined up to pick up 134 dumpsters to put on their farms to collect the plastic wrap. The company Revolution Plastics will pick up the full dumpsters and take them to a hub in Wisconsin where the plastic is baled and sent to Arkansas, where the company uses it to make trash bags.

The Recycling Association of Minnesota hopes Revolution Plastics will expand in Minnesota, said Brita Sailer, the group's executive director. It already plans to open a collection hub in Sauk Centre in February, she said.

"We've been working with them for about three years, trying to get them to come to Minnesota, and they did decide to do that," she said. "The company does this all themselves. It's just a fantastic program."

There's no cost to farmers participating. Sailer said the recycling association is asking farmers statewide to sign up on its website and express interest, even though it's not available to everyone yet.

"When we have enough to come to critical mass, then we will bring dumpsters in, we'll get farmers to come in, pick them up, and then the company has their own hauler system to come pick it up on the farm," she said.

The Recycling Association of Minnesota is also ramping up recycling of plastic wrap used to winterize boats.

In the past, Sailer said, the group focused heavily on holiday lights recycling, leading a collection program for seven years. The program collected nearly 1 million pounds of lights over that time period, which coincided with many Minnesotans switching out incandescent holiday lights for energy efficient LEDs.

Most local household hazardous waste collection sites take holiday lights now, and Sailer said some cities and vocational centers also collect them year-round.