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You are hereHome › Academic Departments › Mechanical and Electrical Engineering Technology › Programs › Plastic Harvest ›
Plastic Harvest FAQs
Q: Who else is working to curb the buildup of used agricultural plastics?
A. The Pesticide Stewardship Alliance (TPSA) has become the new Mecca for individuals working to recover value from used agricultural plastics. The organization initially focused on recycling of plastic pesticide containers, enhancing the pesticide industry's public image. Today TPSA is looking to include a wide array of other agricultural plastic items. http://tpsalliance.org/
Q: Pesticides and plastics?
A: The Pesticide Stewardship Alliance (TPSA) is not only what the name implies. It is more than pesticides. The charge of the organization today includes plastic items that may have pesticide residues on them -- and just as importantly -- items perceived to contain pesticide residues. Check out their Web site: http://tpsalliance.org/
Q: Who is collecting used plastic for use in Plastofuel?
A: No one is yet collecting for Plastofuel™, as the process has not yet been commercialized.
Q: Can plastics #1 - #7 be made into Plastofuel™?
A: First, let’s recycle whatever plastic items we can. Your local recycling coordinator can help with this task, but typically #1 and #2 plastic blow molded items are readily recycled.
Regarding plastic as a fuel, the complicated part is the combustion of the multitude of different resin types that are out there, since every type of plastic burns differently with different emissions. Just as difficult a task is identifying which resin type is which, and which should go in what bin so that we don't send up a plume of black, noxious smoke that will turn neighbors off while turning regulators on.
Our Plastofuel™ system has been tested with #2 and #4 plastic types. Indications are #5 plastic testing will merely be a formality.
Q: How much waste plastic is out there?
A. This question seems to keep showing up like a bad penny. The answer to this question is a crap shoot, one that countless others have tried to answer; we gave up trying years ago.
Q: Will plastic flower pots work in your machinery?
A. We are told there are 30,000 different kinds of plastics; that number likely includes additives, colorants, and other chemicals that alter certain basic families of resins.
Over the years, various plastic fabricators have responded that their products must first be economic, and second, they must meet the demands of the consumer. We are told the consumer asks for certain plastics that weather better than others, or certain plastics that can bend multiple times without breaking, or certain plastics that will retain consistent colors, textures better, and so forth.
Many horticulture containers are in fact #2, but many are not. Most nursery products that are #2 are rejected by recyclers because they are dirty, because they are injection molded (mouth bigger than base) which changes not the resin but the intrinsic viscosity, which is different than a #2 product that is blow molded (such as a milk jug).
Resin #1 PET (PETE) can be injection molded, but it may suffer from the same intrinsic viscosity problems as discussed for #2 blow / injection molded. Hence, recyclers may reject nursery pots made from #1 also.
We looked at trying to standardize the nursery container industry a few years back, a process which we feel would be achievable and economic. But we met the enemy and it was us. When resin prices swing one way or another, the injection molder will buy not what's best for the planet, but what is economic. We are not saying to give up, but we are saying standardization will not be easy.