Go green: Recycling horticultural plastics

Many horticultural plastics can be recycled with private Michigan companies or a pilot Agricultural Plastic Film Recycling Program in Eaton County.

Photo 1. Greenhouse operation recycling used containers. All photos by W. Garrett Owen, MSU Extension
Greenhouse operation recycling used containers. Photo by W. Garrett Owen, University of Kentucky

Greenhouse and nursery production of containerized crops utilizes a lot of plastics in the form of containers flats, carrier trays, greenhouse and nursery tunnel glazing materials, and chemical bottles, just to name a few. As the busy season passes, greenhouse and nursery businesses often are looking for ways to recycle their used agricultural plastics (Photo 1). Some garden retailers also collect used horticultural plastics from consumers to be recycled (Photo 2). Now the question is: where and how can it be recycled?

recycle hort

Photo 1. Plastic horticultural containers selected to be recycled. Photo by W. Garrett Owen, U. of Kentucky Extension.

Garden-retail center accepting used containers from consumers.

Photo 2. Garden-retail center accepting used containers from consumers. Photo by W. Garrett Owen, U. of Kentucky Extension.

Michigan State University Extension recommends that agricultural businesses contact plastic companies that accept horticultural plastics for recycling or by scheduling a drop off time of materials at the Sunfield Recycling Facility in Eaton County. The Eaton County location is the first location of the Agricultural Plastic Film Recycling Pilot Program from the Michigan Recycling Coalition.

While a press release in April 2022 from the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) reported that recycling has reached an all-time high in Michigan (19.3%), Michigan’s goal is 45%. Horticultural plastics from agricultural producers can continue to be part of the solution to that goal.

Horticultural plastics are classified by their plastic type: High-density polyethylene (HPDE; #2), Low-Density Polyethylene (LPDE; #4), Polypropylene (PP; #5); and High Impact Polystyrene (HIPS; #6). Table 1 describes various horticultural plastics and indicates how to distinguish between recyclable and non-recyclable forms. Table 2 lists examples of plastic companies in Michigan that accept used horticultural plastics for recycling.

Growers should note that not every plastic company accepts every type of horticultural plastic for recycling. Many plastic recyclers require that the material needs to be very clean, sorted, and often baled and forklift-ready. Many of the companies require a minimum weight and/or quantity to justify the costs of labor and transportation to move and process the plastic. Michigan growers should contact plastic companies to discuss the required types, quantities, and logistics of the recycling the plastics. 

Table 1. Types of horticultural plastics that can be recycled

Plastic type

Horticultural plastics

Common uses

Can it be recycled?


High-Density Polyethylene (HPDE)

Nursery containers

Yes, clean containers.


Low-Density Polyethylene (LPDE)

Greenhouse-glazing material, plastic mulches

Yes, bale plastics for easy handling and transport.


Polypropylene (PP)


Yes, relatively, or completely clean.


High Impact Polystyrene (HIPS)

Plug and liner trays, flats, carrier trays

Yes, clean flats and trays.


Table 2. Example list of plastic companies that accept horticultural plastics for recycling

Bata Plastics

1001 40th Street, S.E.
Grand Rapids, MI 49508

Granger Recycling Center

16980 Wood Rd
Lansing, MI 48906

Blackmore Company

10800 Blackmore Avenue
Belleville, MI 48111

*Note: #6 only

McDunnough, Inc.

340 North Fenway Drive
Fenton, MI 48430

East Jordan Plastics, Inc.

6400 M-32 Highway
East Jordan, MI 49727

*Note: No #4 greenhouse glazing film

Mondo Polymer Technologies

27620 State Route 7
Reno, OH 45773

*Note: #4 or #5 baled including clean greenhouse glazing film

Grand Rapids Iron & Metal

1701 Clyde Park S.W. #15
Wyoming, MI 49509

Revolution Plastics


For more information about horticultural plastics and recycling, Michigan State University Extension recommends these two articles:

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