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Vermont program recycles farm plastics for free

MONTPELIER, Vt. — A new pilot program in Vermont will allow farmers to recycle the plastics they accumulate for free at various locations statewide.

Vermont dairy farms generate about 500 tons of plastic annually from the wrap around hay bales, covers feed bunks and other uses, but much of the plastic ends up at the landfill, at a cost to farmers. The new program will let farmers recycle that plastic, along with greenhouse film, nursery pots and trays, and tubing used by maple syrup producers.

Any of the clean, dry material can be recycled through April in Middlebury, Montpelier, Highgate, Bennington and Hyde Park.

“You’ve got to pay for the plastic to get it, and then you have to pay to get rid of it, so if you can keep it clean and recycle it, at least you don’t have to pay to get rid of it,” said Jim Doyle, an organic dairy farmer in Chelsea.

He estimates he has spent about $200 a year to get rid of the plastic from his round bales. Now, he’s been compacting and stockpiling the plastic in a barn and plans to haul about 2 tons to Montpelier once the weather gets warmer.

The recycled material will be sold and possibly turned into plastic paving stones for sidewalks, plastic plywood, pellets and trash bags.

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