Start Your Own Program
The following sections and photos will explain things to consider as you plan your own twine recycling program. Whether you are a landowner, a business owner, a Conservation District or a recycling company, there is information here to assist you. Links throughout the text will provide you with more information. Links to specific outreach materials (such as banners and handouts) are located in the “Outreach Materials” section of the menu bar above.
Storage of Twine
Whether you are collecting your own twine or collecting within your community, you will need at least a forklift to move the twine and storage sacks around. The loose twine can be sorted and stored into storage sacks, also called Super Sack® containers or bean totes, or baled with a standard industrial cardboard baler or vertical baler. A mobile baler, mounted on a trailer along with a generator, is a potential solution for rural communities lacking convenient access to an industrial baler.
A Super Sack® container can hold up to about 300 pounds of twine and a bale can weigh up to 1,200 pounds. A semi-trailer loaded full of twine can hold about 50,000 pounds — a lot of twine!
Some people collect the loose twine in piles on their land until they have a large amount and then load it into a semi-trailer for transport. The twine is like spaghetti and fairly difficult to handle and control.
Sorting of Twine
Although it is fine for the twine to be outside in the weather, clean twine can be sold at a higher price than twine that is contaminated with trash, hay, or manure. For twine to be considered clean it must not be contaminated with more than 5% of dirt and hay. Sometimes stalks of hay are sparsely scattered in the twine and virtually impossible to remove — this is OK, as long as it is a small amount.
So if you are collecting twine you will probably want to sort it and remove the trash. In our four years of sorting through twine collected at landowner drop-offs we have found brand new hay hooks, shoes, manure, all kinds of trash and a significant number of veterinary needles. For this reason it is mandatory that all of our staff and volunteers use heavy cowhide work gloves during any sorting or transferring of twine. We suggest this for everyone who will be collecting twine.
We advertise with clubs at local high schools and universities for volunteers to help with sorting and transport. People enjoy helping and can really make progress in a short time. Two-to-four Super Sack® containers full of twine may be stored behind the collection site if the owner is willing. This will reduce the transportation time and cost.
Check Collection Sites Regularly
If you convince a local business to have a collection container it is important to check the site regularly so that the area does not become messy and discourage the business owner from continuing with the project. We find regular weekly checks useful in the beginning. It may also be helpful to provide a banner to hang by the collection container, a poster explaining your efforts, and handouts for the business owner to have at the check out counter to inform the customers about the new project.
Keep in mind this may be a new and unusual idea for many people and it may take time to become accepted. It took us over a year of contacting individuals, churches, and businesses to finally convince one place to start. After some time the local newspaper ran an article and other businesses contacted us.
Find a Source for Free Super Sack® Containers
Feed stores sell fertilizer in these sacks, farmers buy bean seed in these “totes”, and breweries buy their grains in these large sacks. So if there is a source near you they may be happy to donate the sacks.
Find a Recycler
A local recycler may also be willing to donate help with some of the process as a community fund raiser for the 4-H, Future Farmers of America, or other youth or community group.
If there is no local recycling company near your community you will have to be creative. Recruit the help of a church group, find a trucker who can take the twine as a back haul, or contact local businesses for ideas. We went to chamber of commerce meetings in rural areas to ask business owners for ideas.
You may want to advertise with handouts at local farmers’ markets or hobby livestock groups. Veterinarians may be happy to display the handouts. The local newspaper may offer a free announcement as a community service.
If there is an organized area for recycling in your community, they may be willing to work with you. You are welcome to use our photos from the Photos section on the “Outreach Materials” page. Please provide the appropriate credit for any photos used if indicated.
City and county websites and local county Extension offices may also be willing to post information about your service.