Financial Sustainability of Recycling and Upcycling

By    Nov 4, 2015

The question of how a person or organization sustains a recycling plastic baling twine program in a rural community has been nagging me. Without being able to answer that question, I haven’t been able to get myself to complete this month’s NAS Creative Community Fellowships’ assignment which is to create a project budget. Facilitating up-cycle exhibits featuring this material helps to raise awareness and generate  income for artists, but it really doesn’t begin to address the problem.

One possibility is a farmer/entrepreneur, that I recently met, is looking at using the discarded twine in building blocks. He described the process to me as newly patented, where plastic twine, straw (or any biomass material) is fused together in block form. This got me researching, which led me to a market feasibility study done in Alberta, Canada around recycling and re-purposing baling twine (also referred to as baler twine). It’s a 47 page study that I need to spend much more time reading. The study details possible reuses that include building blocks, “cattle pillows,” broom manufacturing and even oil spill clean-up. Apparently, when cut into smaller pieces, the polypropylene that makes up baling twine attracts hydrocarbons.  The study details the magnitude of the problem. Stating “Each year, our Province’s agricultural sector generates close to 3500 tonnes of waste ‘polytwine’ in its farm and commercial operations. This twine has been considered a problematic waste commodity since, left uncollected, it is ingested by livestock and causes entanglement in both livestock and in farm machinery.”  [Randall Conrad & Assoc. Ltd.]

What puzzles me is why there aren’t more recyclers or feasibility studies around the issue in the United States. I found one recycler in Oregon that I’ve inquired about the specifics of their operation and waiting to hear back.

Baling Twine & Slide Quilt

~Mary Hoffman