MORA, N.M. — One person’s trash is another person’s treasure, especially if it can help reforestation projects in developing countries.
Researchers at New Mexico State University are evaluating the use of plastic beverage bottles as an alternative nursery seedling container where it is not cost-effective to import containers used in industrialized-nation nurseries.
“Discarded plastic bottles are a potential resource as growing containers for nurseries in developing countries,” said Owen Burney, NMSU assistant professor and superintendent of the John T. Harrington Forestry Research Center in Mora. “These bottles ordinarily have a very short lifespan, usually lasting only for the duration of consumption of the beverage. Where recycling and waste management are limited, such as in many developing countries, these containers end up in streets, waterways and open areas.”
Burney was a part of a Purdue University project, Strengthening Afghan Agricultural Faculty, sponsored by the U.S. Agency for International Development based in Kabul, Afghanistan. With the aid of Afghan forestry professors, Burney started a greenhouse nursery for Kabul University using discarded plastic bottles as the containers to grow forest seedlings.