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Recycling of Dripper Lines

 

The drip irrigation solutions of Netafim have been bringing great environmental benefits to the agriculture and landscape markets of France, and throughout the world, for many years.It’s actually almost 50 years since they invented Drip Irrigation, time goes so fast!

The improvements in crop yield, better energy efficiency, lower manpower costs, avoiding aquifer pollution and, of course, making great savings on water, are now resulting in the rapid penetration of drip irrigation into the vast markets of field crops, such as cereals and basic commodity crops.

Netafim, as the clear world market leader in Drip solutions, realized many years ago that, as well providing these benefits to the growers, it was also necessary to have a robust recycling solution for the dripper lines removed from the field. This particularly applies to the products used annually, such as thin wall dripper lines, often known in the industry as drip tapes.

These products are usually replaced each year when crops are harvested and/or rotated. In many countries, landfill/ dump sites are charging huge fees to take this plastic and, as a result, a robust recycling solution is needed. Thus, Netafim embarked upon this exciting and important mission.

 

It was also necessary to have a robust recycling solution for the dripper lines removed from the field. This particularly applies to the products used annually, such as thin wall dripper lines, often known in the industry as drip tapes.

 

However, creating a recy­­cling program is not easy. It’s a very tough business with many variables that adversely affect the cost, impai­ring logis­tics and dra­ma­tically hindering the resale ability of the re­cycled product.

First of all, used drip­per line is often mixed with a film of field mulch, dragged from the wet fields, and as such con­tains lots of dirt and moisture. Often, other plastics and rubbers are present in the piles of Dripperline that contaminate the quality of the collected plastic. Dripperline is also sold over large geographical areas and very often is not concentrated in large stock piles that are more efficient to pick up.

So the coordination, collection, grinding, cleaning and reprocessing is very difficult and can often be very expensive.

And once this collection expense is absorbed, there is not really a lucrative open market for selling used dripper line / field mulch combinations, as it is, and totally unprocessed. It can sometimes be sold unprocessed to overseas markets, to China for example, but the price per kg never covers the high collection costs. The demand from China can also be some­what temperamental and in­consistent, as their import regulations often change and hence this outlet is not a robust one.

So, in the short, medium- and long-term, Netafim considers that the only real solution is to find an efficient way to collect and clean the material to a standard that is good enough to try to recover collection costs. There are several outlets for this material; for example, it is possible to resell this plastic in the higher quality global recycled plastics market, but only as clean recycled pellets.

 

There are several outlets for this material; for example, it is possible to resell this plastic in the higher quality global recycled plastics market, but only as clean recycled pellets

 

Netafim has created durable commercial programs in line with this collection program, which  is easy for our customers to understand and exploit.

In France for example, a unique collection program is offered to the dealers and their customers. They receive calls requesting a pick up from their dealers, and a Recycling Coordination team organizes the collection. Depending on the geography of the collection request, the dripper line is taken from the field to a local baling site where the product is compacted into dense bales. It is then normally shipped long distances to our recycling partner site for processing.

 

To help cover the huge costs, there is a collection fee per KG collected, charged to the grower associated with the pick up, the costs depending on the distance involved. If Netafim picks up thin wall dripper lines from repeat or important Netafim customers, then this pick up fee is usually waived.

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