COVID-19 slows recovery of agricultural plastics

COVID-19 slows recovery of agricultural plastics

The American recycler with whom Recuper Estrie and the MRC du Granit usually does business no longer accepts materials since the arrival of COVID-19, which creates a significant delay in the recovery of the films covering the hay bales.

Share November 5, 2020 3:00 a.m. Share COVID-19 slows the recovery of agricultural plasticsCOVID-19 slows recovery of agricultural plastics

Jasmine Rondeau Local journalism initiative – La Tribune Bales of agricultural plastics are piling up at Recup Estrie, just like at Sanitaire Lac-Mégantic. Since the upheavals caused by COVID-19, the American recycler with whom the region usually does business is no longer able to recover the plastic wrap that farmers use to wrap their hay bales.

“We have an accumulation problem. We hope that this can be resolved in the coming weeks, ”explains the president of Recup Estrie and municipal councilor of the Pin-Solitaire district of Sherbrooke, Pierre Avard. Recover Estrie usually stores agricultural plastics collected by the MRCs who are members of its board of directors, and then sends them across the border through Sanitaire Lac-Mégantic. The recycler in question then recycles these films into fuel, which are made of number 4 plastic, one of the most difficult to recycle.

On the side of Sanitaire Lac-Mégantic (SLM), which also manages agricultural plastics deposits for the MRC du Granit, it is indicated that the recycler has stopped accepting new materials due to COVID-19, and would have benefited from this break to maintain its various equipment. No date of resumption of activities is known yet, which also leaves SLM in the grip of a plastic plug.

If Mr. Avard is not able to estimate the quantities of bales stored at Recuper Estrie at the moment, Sanitaire Lac-Mégantic estimates for its part to send between 60 and 80 tons of these plastics per month to the United States. , normally.

COVID-19 slows recovery of agricultural plastics

Pierre Avard, President of Recover Estrie and municipal councilor for the Pin-Solitaire district in Sherbrooke. Photo archives La Tribune, André Vuillemin

“The covid does nothing to help”

Are there not other possible avenues for the “marshmallow” envelopes that decorate the fields? “To make it something other than what we used to do, it has to be pure,” says Avard. This is often the problem with agricultural plastics, which are in the fields. It is difficult to have good quality. “

According to the professor-researcher at the center for technological transfer in industrial ecology, Marc Olivier, the pitfalls concerning agricultural plastic, which have persisted for years, arise particularly upstream of the process. “But the Covid is doing nothing to help,” he said.

In 2019, a Recyc-Québec study estimated that 80% of agricultural plastics in Quebec, including fertilizer and pesticide containers as well as maple syrup pipes, are not recycled, while the volume of this type of plastics put into market represents 11,000 tonnes each year.

“We always have difficulty managing them properly. This is part of the nagging and painful problems. We try to find correct solutions, but the first problem is that of the harvest. How do we go and collect it everywhere? We tried different methodologies and we've been doing pilot projects on this for at least 15 years. We still do not have a properly functioning solution to contain the deposit. “

“The second problem is that if we ever harvest it, what do we do with it? Pursue Mr. Olivier. Plastics, when picked up, are often soiled with straw, and occasionally with cow dung and gravel as well. It is incompatible with recycling operations. So the problem is also that in addition, we have to clean these plastics, which are difficult to handle. “

The last problem and not the least: the market for this kind of plastics, which “is hardly there, at present”, and which is far from being stimulated in a pandemic context.

Especially for the reasons listed above, the production of plastic wrap no. 4, the type used for hay bales, is less expensive from virgin material than from recycled material. “We remain stuck with the most unloved of plastics. But we are working on it, which is encouraging. “

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