The Otter Tail County Solid Waste Department received a $232,000 grant from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency to continue and expand an agricultural and film plastic recycling program in Otter Tail, Todd, and Wadena Counties.
Although film plastic collection started in Otter Tail County in 2016, continuing the program was a challenge after Revolution Plastics, a film plastic recycling company, ceased collection in the region in 2017. Otter Tail County has continued to collect the material over the past several years, but a lack of staffing and appropriate equipment made continuing and expanding the program difficult.
The grant funds will be used to purchase a truck dedicated to servicing farms and other film plastic users from Otter Tail County and partners Todd and Wadena Counties. Additional collection containers will also be purchased with a portion of the grant funds, allowing additional locations and all regional transfer stations to collect film plastic waste for recycling.
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 was started in 2016, most agricultural film plastic was either landfilled or illegally burned on site, with no practical option for recycling. Now, Otter Tail County annually collects approximately 220 tons of film plastic from farms and boat storage facilities for recycling. With the additional containers and dedicated collection route, that amount is expected to increase by more than 30 percent over the next several years.
“This grant from the state will help turn our fledgling ag and boat film plastic recycling program into a stable, consistent component of our County’s integrated solid waste system,” said Zach Fjestad, Assistant Solid Waste Director. “Our goal is to get this plastic recycled and out of the waste stream while providing users of this material with an efficient and affordable recycling solution.”
Otter Tail County Solid Waste staff will run the collection route for the regional program and deliver the material to a baling facility in Sauk Center or Detroit Lakes. The baled film plastic is then used by Revolution Bag, located in Arkansas, to make commercial trash bags with up to 94 percent post-consumer content.
Grant funded activities will begin in March. For more information about the Film Plastic Recycling Program visit www.ottertailcountymn.us/content-page/film-plastic-collection/.