By now, most greenhouse operations have gleaned the production areas of spring and early summer plant material. The question is, what should you do with your leftover containers?
Garrett Owen, a Greenhouse and Floriculture Outreach Specialist at Michigan State University (MSU), recently wrote an article on the MSU Extension website in which he describes visiting some operations that have deposited used and even unused containers, flats, or carrier trays in large dumpsters for recycling. At each operation, he is asked about proper disposal of these horticultural plastics, and the answer is easy — recycle.
In other instances, Owen says he has visited retail garden centers that accept and collect used containers from consumers. Regardless of where used plug or liner trays, and containers or carrier trays come from, there is a possibility these horticultural plastics can be recycled.
The most common questions Owen receives are: “Can this be recycled?” and “Who accepts horticultural plastics for recycling?” Fortunately, he says many horticultural plastic companies will accept and recycle containers, and if it could not get any better, there may be a local horticultural plastic processor and recycler near you. However, he notes that greenhouse glazing materials such as polycarbonate from poly-covered greenhouses or plastic mulches or groundcovers from plasticulture may not be recyclable.
The article from Owen includes tables describing various horticultural plastics and how to distinguish between recyclable and non-recyclable forms, as well as a list of plastic companies that accept used horticultural plastics for recycling.