Recycling Agricultural Films

Environmentally friendlier silage films

High quality silage films like those found in the Silotite range provide farmers with a cost-effective, efficient ensiling method for the production of high quality winter fodder. Once the silage films have done their job it is important that they are recycled.  There are a variety of applications that utilise used agricultural films – for example, landscape product, fencing and refuse sacks amongst others.   However prior to the recycling stage we believe that environmental impact can be minimised through reducing the thickness of a balewrap through downgauging during the manufacturing process.

Reduced film thickness

Thanks to advanced polymers and the latest film extrusion technology modern silage stretchfilms can be downgauged to produce a high performing stretchfilm that offers all the strength and performance of a conventional, high quality balewrap but from a considerably thinner film thickness.

SilotitePro® is such a film.  Using SilotitePro® allows you to minimise the environmental impact of your balewrapping activities.  Its thinner nature means you are able to wrap bales using significantly less film by volume. This in turn creates less film waste when those bales are opened. Plus, this reduced waste is 100% recyclable.

Recycling

For many years we have been actively involved in various new and existing film recycling schemes in the UK, Ireland, Belgium, France and the Netherlands working closely with local agricultural organisations in this regard.

What can be done with used silage film after use?

Used silage films should not go to waste as they can be recycled to manufacture damp proof membranes, garden and street furniture and refuse sacks amongst other things.  Recycling schemes now exist is most countries for reprocessing agricultural films and it is important (and more cost-effective) to ensure that films are prepared properly for collection by a registered waste management company.  The following five top tips for recycling silage stretch wrap provide useful guidance in this respect:

  1. Polythene for collection should be clean, dry and free of other contaminants to reduce transport and processing costs. Please ensure used polythene bundles do not contain tyres, metal parts, stones or wood. All these items have a major impact on the recycling machinery.
  2. Store used silage films carefully – your storage area should be easily accessible to a collection vehicle.
  3. Remember to separate the various elements of farm waste into separate groups i.e. bale wrap, net wrap, baler twine, fertiliser bags and plastic containers so that they are not all mixed together.
  4. Ensure they are ready for collection either by being baled/tied together or packed into a suitable container like a large polythene bag.
  5. Ensure you use a registered waste removal company who will dispose of your bale wrap properly. Remember - it is illegal to burn or bury polythene in most countries.

Using plastic as fuel source

We support the concept of incinerating waste plastic to produce energy.

Plastics have an extremely high calorific value and are effectively ‘frozen fuels’ which can be released into energy when burnt. In fact, mixed plastics have an energy content of 9585 kWh/tonne which is 37% higher than coal and only 11-18% lower than natural gas and oil respectively. It is also four times as high as that for municipal solid waste (MSW) and twice as high as paper and newspaper.

In some countries used plastic film and plastic waste are processed into recoverable energy. There is particular interest in Germany with regard to the recovery of energy during the waste treatment process.  The table hereunder shows the energy values of various materials.

Energy values of Various Materials
Material BTU/pound

Agricultural film
 - wrapping film, bags
 - plastic pipes, sheets

18,500 - 19,500
Wood 7,000 - 7,5000
Newspaper 8,000
Oil 20,500

Recovering energy from waste can reduce the volume by up to 95% however high-temperature incineration facilities with air pollution control are required to do so.   Critical considerations for energy recovery from plastic waste are the collection, transport and treatment costs.