Agricultural film recycling

A very important and interesting source of wastes in film recycling is represented by agricultural film.

Growing interest in agricultural film recycling is made evident by the attention drawn from institutions such as the EU and other national organizations. Very specific regulations are being enforced, and legislative action is being taken, towards the creation of a closed loop cycle in the use of agricultural film, requiring the presence of a recycling step. Agricultural film available for collection may be divided into families:

  • Greenhouse film: 80÷150 mµ thick, low contamination but significant degradation by atmospheric agents and by the agricultural cycle;
  • Mulching film: 8÷20 mµ thick, high quality, low degradation, but very thin with high degree of contamination;
  • Stretch wrap film: 12÷25 mµ thick, high quality, but very thin with high degree of contamination;
  • Banana Film: 10÷15 mµ thick, high quality, but very thin with medium/high contamination;
  • Non woven PP film: 10÷15 mµ thick, thin material with significant degree of contamination, difficult to wash and dry;
  • Irrigation pipes: 200 mµ thick, internal contamination present in the material;
  • Tunnel film: 30÷40 mµ thick, high quality, low degradation, but high degree of contamination.

If greenhouse is quite easy to identify and recycle, other kinds of film, namely the thinnest and most contaminated ones, are often seen by recyclers as a problem.
The first SOREMA film recycling line installed in 1974 was expressly dedicated to agricultural film recycling. In the following years we developed the necessary technologies to recycle all kinds of agricultural film, regardless of the thickness or degree of contamination.

According to the customer’s needs and requirements, SOREMA can design film washing lines suitable to treat the different agricultural films, often blended with each other or mixed with post-consumer and/or post-commercial film.
In addition, based on the customer’s requests, we can also design film washing lines expressly dedicated to the most difficult families of agricultural film and tailored to the type of waste to be treated. SOREMA has already realized around the world agricultural film washing lines capable of treating even the thinnest and most contaminated types of agricultural film.

In case of film washing lines specifically dedicated to the recycling of pure agricultural film the key points of the recycling washing process are:

  • Wearing and maintenance costs given by the high contaminations of the materials
  • Water consumptions and water treatment
  • Drying, particularly for the thinnest agricultural film

Wearing and maintenance costs

In agricultural film washing and recycling, SOREMA has always been placing the maximum effort in reducing wear of machinery parts, in particular by accurately designing the recycling process. Reduction of costs associated with maintenance has also been sought by working with interchangeable pieces, for which maintenance operations are quick and efficient. Moreover, thanks to additional pre-washing and other specific modules, SOREMA properly balances the cost of the starting investments with wear and maintenance costs of the machineries that are particularly subject to the damaging action of the highly contaminated materials.

Water consumption and water treatment

As far as water is concerned, SOREMA specifically designs all its washing lines with specific and customized solutions for water filtration, with specific recirculation loops.

Regarding water treatment, within its agricultural film recycling lines, SOREMA can integrate and design tailored solutions for the sludge produced by the recycling plant, which complement the more traditional chemical, physical, and biological treatments. These specific equipments allow the discharge of sludge to the land, where possible. In conditions in which such discharge is not feasible, SOREMA can put in place customized sludge densification modules.

Drying specific modules (for thinnest agricultural film)

Drying must be carefully studied when treating the thinnest agricultural films, for which this step of the recycling process is particularly delicate. Specific modules have been designed by SOREMA to tackle this problem and carry out the drying process without damaging the produced film.