Drip Irrigation Tapes Recycling: Reducing Plastic Waste in Agriculture

2023-03-14 | Technical Blog | By Resul Gökpınar |

Agricultural plastics are undeniably beneficial because they keep agricultural products safer, preserve water, and boost production. In this context, it is impossible not to talk about drip irrigation tapes (aka irrigation pipes). When they complete their lifecycle, properly recycled drip irrigation tapes not only help for increasing efficiency and preserving water in agriculture, but also create economic value and reduce carbon emissions.

Why drip irrigation tapes must be recycled?

Irrigation drip tape lines are used by farmers a huge amount to cover field and greenhouse surfaces. Most of the time their lifecycles are 1-3 years, and soft irrigation drip tapes are often used seasonally. This creates a certain amount of plastic waste, which can take hundreds of years to decompose in landfills. Burning drip tapes to get rid of them is not a solution either because it increases carbon emissions and causes a huge loss of these recyclable plastics.

Used PE drip irrigation tapes
( Drip irrigation tapes in agriculture )

Plastic drip tapes are mostly made of PE derivatives and can be recycled. The recycled pellets from drip tapes can be reused to produce new drip tapes and many other plastic products, thus it creates a circular economy by reducing plastic waste and reusing the materials instead of deriving them from non-renewable resources. In this way, we can conserve energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions that would result from producing new plastic products.

How to recycle drip irrigation tapes?

Used drip irrigation tapes might require to be cleaned in a washing line to remove any soil, debris, or plant material that may be present. Before the washing process, drip tapes are crushed to reduce their size for easy cleaning, and they take a form called drip tape scraps. After washing and drying, drip tape scraps are processed in plastic recycling machine and turned into recycled pellets.

drip irrigation tape scraps after crushing
( Drip irrigation tape scraps )

Drip irrigation tape recycling system

Choosing a recycling pelletizer with efficient filtration and degassing systems for recycling this kind of post-consumer plastic materials would be the most efficient and cost-savvy option. Repro-Flex Plus two stage plastic recycling machine is the perfect fit for recyclers or producers who are looking for a drip irrigation tape recycling machine. Because the machine provides superior features such as consistent material feeding, efficient degassing and filtration, and as a result high volume and quality uniform pellets.

drip irrigation tape recycling machine
( Repro-Flex Plus can process post-consumer drip tape scraps efficiently )

Repro-Flex Plus cutter compactor integrated two stage plastic granulator is a one-step flexible recycling solution that can process post-consumer plastic materials like drip irrigation tapes, soft irrigation hoses, PP and PE soft packaging materials as well as pre-crushed hard plastic forms of them.

Advantages of Repro-Flex Plus for drip irrigation tape recycling:

  • Cutter Compactor:
    Drip tapes are not required to be pre-cut. The cutter compactor helps cut, mix, and preheat the drip irrigation tape scraps uniformly. This process also helps dry excess humidity that comes from the washing lines.

  • Fast and Consistent material feeding:
    Drip tapes are automatically fed by the belt conveyor and nip roller depending on how full the cutter compactor is. Then cutter compactor feeds the material directly and consistently into the extruder screw.

  • High yield capacity:
    Thanks to the cutter compactor integration which ensures the screw is continuously filled with the material, and the inverter (speed-controlled) screw motor which controls the speed for different fluidity materials, much higher production output can be easily achieved.

  • High-quality recycled pellets:
    Besides the consistent and fast material feeding and extruder, with the help of auto speed and pressure-controlled die head pelletizing system, 2 filtration units and 3 degassing zones, the recycling machine produces the same size and shape plastic pellets with higher market value.

Where to use Recycled Pellets from Drip Tapes?

Recycled plastic pellets from drip irrigation tapes
( Recycled plastic pellets from drip irrigation tapes )

The recycled drip irrigation tape pellets are like other recycled pellets and can be used to manufacture a variety of plastic products. Since most of the drip tape recycled pellets are black colors, it is more advantageous to use them for the production of such as drip irrigation tape systems, pipes, trash bags, cargo bags, and other packaging materials.

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About the Author
Resul Gökpınar

POLYSTAR’s International Sales Representative

Resul creates up to date content based on his experience, gained by solving customers problems from Turkey and EMEA market.

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