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New solution for farm plastics

Farmers may at last have an environmentally sustainable solution for their waste silage wrap and unwanted, empty agrichemical containers.

A limited pilot programme to collect used silage wrap and unwanted, empty agrichemical containers is to be run shortly in the Waikato, Hawkes Bay and Canterbury.

District regional councils have been working with a national working group representing farmers and grower groups, Central and local government, chemical manufacturers, the plastics industry and the recycling industry. The working group is looking for a sustainable management solution for waste on-farm plastics.

“The working group have chosen what we think are the most workable and affordable solutions and these pilots are targeted to test the feasibility and affordability of these solutions before considering a nation wide rollout next year,” Project Manager Sandy Scarrow said.

Each year about 8,000 tonnes of plastic is used in New Zealand agriculture as silage wrap and agrichemical containers. The plastic used to make these products is easily recycled but contamination makes it difficult. The project team has studied what is done overseas to manage these waste streams.
The project team believes it is environmentally better that farmers and growers deliver their plastics to a facility for recycling rather than burn them or bury them on the farm.

Farmers and growers need to triple rinse their agrichemical containers and shake contamination from their silage wrap before bringing it to collection facilities. Contaminated product will not be accepted for recycling.

“The triple rinsing of containers need not be onerous, simply a matter of rinsing the container out three times as the spray tank is filled. It also means that there is no wasted chemical,” she said.

Full details on what farmers and growers need to do are being delivered to rural delivery boxes shortly.

The project team is working closely with service providers to collect plastics and have them recycled into products that will be used again in agriculture.

The Waikato pilots will run between December 1 and 6. Facilities will be open between 10am and 4pm at the Morrinsville Transfer Station, X-treme Waste, Raglan and Wrightson Rural Supplies Store, Otorohanga.

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