Letters to the Editor

An opportunity to recycle your agricultural plastics

Save the dates:

This year’s recycling collections of agricultural plastics are as follows (all from noon to 5 p.m.).

— San Juan Island: Sept. 19, San Juan County Fairgrounds 4-H Building.
— Lopez Island: Sept. 21, Solid Waste Transfer Station.
— Orcas Island: Sept. 22, Solid Waste Transfer Station.

Plastic nursery pots and flats, baling twine, soil amendment bags, drip irrigation tape, mulch film, tunnel film, silage bags and hay bale stretch wrap will be accepted at no cost. Please keep materials dry and shake off any loose soil. Nursery pots and flats will be made available at each event for re-use.

Our regional recyclers at Skagit River Steel & Recycling in Burlington report that their current markets for such plastics are in the U.S. and Vietnam. Recycled ag plastics become feedstock in the manufacture of automotive parts, tool handles, drain pipe and trash bags as well as plastic lumber for benches, flooring, pallets, decking, posts and pilings.

It is estimated that plastics can take up to 400 years to break down in landfills; farmers and gardeners from the San Juan Islands have diverted about 45 tons of ag plastics from landfill from our last two years’ recycling collections. Burning plastics is not a disposal option! It is illegal and creates highly toxic fumes that are especially harmful to people with asthma, allergies, or other respiratory/cardiac problems.

For more specifics on how to prepare your ag plastics for recycling and on the health risks of improper disposal of plastics, please refer to the Web sites of the sponsoring organizations or call 370-0503.

Thank you for recycling. It’s a great way to help “Keep It Green.”

Helen Venada, San Juan County Solid Waste Division
Candace Jagel, WSU Extension Office
Kris Bayas, WSU Master Gardeners Program
Eliza Buck, San Juan County Agricultural Resources Committee
Danna Kinsey, San Juan Islands Conservation District
Bruce Gregory, San Juan Islands Conservation District

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