Maple syrup producers can now recycle maple tubing locally

Those of you who may have ventured out to visit a nearby producer during Maple Weekend have seen, firsthand, how large sugaring operations utilize the latest equipment, machinery, tools, and the most advanced technologies available when making maple syrup. Once the sap flows, they are able to produce quality maple syrup of exceptional flavor, dozens, and in some cases even hundreds of gallons at a time.

Studies have shown that plastic tubing will produce higher yields of sap than the traditional method of collecting the sap in buckets and hauling those buckets back and forth through the woods, while substantially reducing the labor involved. In fact, a well installed, food-grade plastic tubing system will provide many years of high productivity, in some cases doubling a syrup maker’s production over the use of pails. Tubing also allows large-scale producers to collect fresh sap in the most efficient and hygienic way possible, and can actually improve the health and quality of a sugarbush by reducing or eliminating the potential for site damage and, more importantly, (repetitive) root damage, soil compaction and erosion caused by collection vehicles, all of which can compromise tree health. What’s more, if you’re just starting out, even though a tubing system can be quite costly to purchase, it can actually be less expensive to set up than buckets. If there is a down side, it’s that tubing often requires more maintenance than buckets and is frequently damaged by rodents, especially squirrels, that chew on it.

Nearly all modern-day evaporators allow for sap to be continually added as it is collected. And more and more producers now pump their collected sap through reverse osmosis machines, or R-Os, which filter out up to three-quarters of the water before boiling begins. R-O technology saves fuel and time without diminishing the quality of the finished product, in any way. Steam pre-heating evaporators are often used as well to increase evaporation rates, which further reduces processing costs and saves even more energy and time.

Maple syrup producers can now easily and conveniently recycle old maple tubing as it is taken out of production and replaced with new tubing. Cornell University’s Recycling Agricultural Plastics Project and Cornell Cooperative Extension of Franklin County are now working with TAP Industries in Plattsburgh and Malone to process deliveries of used maple tubing for recycling. Maple syrup producers are encouraged to bring their used tubing to the TAP Industries facilities, located at Imperial Industrial Park, 32 Power Dam Way in Plattsburgh and 59 Railroad St. in Malone. (Enter from Brewster Street, across from the Franklin County Courthouse parking lot.)

Although TAP Industries does not require that you make an appointment to drop off used tubing, making prior arrangements is greatly appreciated and may save you time. Deliveries will be accepted Monday through Friday between the hours of 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. and on Saturdays from 9 a.m. through 2 p.m.. TAP Industries will accept deliveries of maple tubing at their recycling facility year round.

To prepare tubing for recycling:

-Try to keep tubing away from mud, gravel and oil. You do not need to wash the plastic but please remove any gravel, sand or loose dirt

-Coil long lengths into loops about 3′ in diameter, keeping the coils light enough to lift. Tie coils with baling twine, duct tape, dropline, or a strip of plastic film. Avoid wire or other metal. Cut mainline into 4-foot lengths.

-Collect short lengths of tubing in a large plastic bag (“tote”), Gaylord box, or similar receptacle. It is OK to leave plastic/nylon fittings and spouts attached, but please remove all metal connectors, clasps, supporting wires, etc.

-RAPP has made a limited number of large tote bags available without cost. Please contact Cornell Cooperative Extension of Franklin County to make arrangements to receive yours (518-483-7403 or rlg24@cornell.edu).

  • Unfortunately, PVC (polyvinyl chloride) tubing and fittings WILL NOT be accepted. Neither RAPP nor TAP Industries can accept PVC plastic at this time, even when separated from low-density polyethylene (LDPE).

-Currently, only Low Density Polyethylene (LDPE) main line and lateral lines are being recycled into new plastic products. To determine if your old tubing is made from PVC plastic or not, cut off a small section of tubing and drop it into a container of water. When placed in water, PVC will sink. LDPE tubing will float. Newer tubing contains no PVC.

  • For convenience and efficiency, RAPP encourages producers to pool their used tubing before bringing it to TAP Industries for recycling.

If you are a maple syrup producer who would like more information, please contact me at your convenience at Franklin County CCE by calling 518-483-7403 or by email. rlg24@cornell.edu