After Harvest Waste Management: Recycling, Disposal, Composting or Anaerobic Digestion


At the end of the crop cycle residual films can be safely recycled or disposed in compliance with federal, state and county regulations.


Residual compostable films can be  safely composted or cultivated into the soil together with the crop residues at the end of the crop cycle, depending on federal, state and county regulations.

The best result will be obtained using equipment that shreds the film into small pieces before composting or incorporation into the soil. This ensures fewer larger fragments, which are hard to digest for compost and soil microorganisms.

As a general rule, microbial digestion is the fastest under aerobic, warm, moist conditions and high microbial populations in compost. Anaerobic digestion in soil is a slower process and as a general rule takes at least as long as the lifespan of the used film gauge on soil.

Any compostable film left on the field surface will break down much more slowly.

However microbial digestion is a natural process and results can alter from site to site and year to year.


Note: The National Organic Program (NOP) final rule (United States Department of Agriculture [USDA], 2000) requires removal of all plastic mulches from the field at the end of the growing season in Organic Vegetable Production.



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