University of Maine Cooperative Extension has been awarded $38,764 by a one-year State of Maine Department of Environmental Protection Waste Diversion Grant to develop a statewide pilot program to recycle agricultural greenhouse plastic.The program’s goal is to collect at least one-third of Maine’s annual waste greenhouse plastic and partner with an end-user who can convert the plastic into resin used in the manufacture of new plastic products.

The material to be recycled, low-density polyethylene (LDPE #4), is a clear film used to cover greenhouses, high tunnels, hoop houses and other agricultural structures. It is estimated that Maine annually disposes of 30.1 tons of this waste greenhouse plastic, primarily destined for landfills, with expectations for an increase in volume due to Maine’s interest in season-extension technologies, USDA funding for new high-tunnel construction, and the production of hemp and cannabis.

Waste plastic will be collected May through September. Participation will be free of charge and open to all growers who register for the project; registration will open on March 1.

For more information, phone program manager David McDaniel at 342-5971 or email agplasticrecycling@maine.edu.