Collection companies make it easy for farmers to dispose of agri-waste

Silage wrapping can be collected and recycled by the Plasback on-farm recycling service.
Kirk Hargreaves

Silage wrapping can be collected and recycled by the Plasback on-farm recycling service.

Demand for a farm recycling service is growing so fast in Canterbury that the regional collection contractor has a truck devoted to the task full time.

Taitapu based contractor McCarthy Contracting collects farm waste plastic from as far afield as Oamaru in the south to Conway in the north and up and down the West Coast.

When its owners Grant and Robert McCarthy first joined the Plasback scheme they used to send a truck out once a month to collect plastic from farms and now it goes out twice a week.

Robert McCarthy, left, Chris Hartshorne and Grant McCarthy with the new truck dedicated to Plasback collection.
Plasback

Robert McCarthy, left, Chris Hartshorne and Grant McCarthy with the new truck dedicated to Plasback collection.

"Habits are changing," Robert said. "In the past farmers just burned or buried their waste or chucked it down the gully. Now kids are taught about the importance of recycling at school and we are all the more aware of the need to protect the environment."

"As awareness has grown recycling has become mainstream. Farmers need solutions and this is it. We make it easy for them to recycle their used silage wrap, baling twine, feed bags, fertiliser bags and so on. Our clients are livestock farmers from across the spectrum - wool, meat and dairy."

The McCarthys said new regulations from regional councils required Canterbury farmers to have environmental plans and for  them to recycle their waste.

Grant Mathieson, transfer station attendant, with agricultural chemical containers that can be recycled in Marlborough ...
Dave Williams

Grant Mathieson, transfer station attendant, with agricultural chemical containers that can be recycled in Marlborough as part of the AgRecovery scheme.

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The McCarthys compact and bale the waste plastic so that it can be shipped for processing either in New Zealand or overseas.

Plasback national manager Chris Hartshorne said the bigger the collection scheme gets the faster and more efficient it becomes because the collection contractors can schedule more frequent pick ups.

Last year Plasback collected 1822 tonnes of silage wrap and other plastic and it is on track to exceed that amount this year.

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It has entered into a partnership with recycler Astron Plastics to turn waste silage wrap into Tuffboard, a plywood replacement product that has a variety of uses on farms.

Another company helping farmers dispose of waste is Agrecovery Rural Recycling which collects unwanted or expired chemicals from farmers.

"It's all about reducing risk," said programme manager for Agrecovery Jason Richards.

"Safe collection and disposal protect people, stock and the environment against unwanted contact from spills and with the service being pretty much free of charge, it's a good chance to clean up."

Funding is provided by 65 manufacturers and distributors who support good stewardship of their products. Combined with contributions from Environment Canterbury, most unwanted agrichemicals could be collected and disposed of at little or no charge, Richards said.

Participating brands pay a levy to the Agrecovery Foundation based on sales of their product (60 litres or less) into the NZ market. The levied funds cover free collection and disposal of many agrichemicals from the brands.

"Over the last eight years we have collected more than 100,000kg of agrichems from the rural sector," Richards said.

More than 22,000kg has been collected from Canterbury since the programme started, making up about 20 per cent of the national volume.

Richards said a typical client would be a farmer selling up who needed to get rid of expired products, or new owners who found chemicals in the back of the shed.

"There's also a lot of users who just don't want to leave unwanted chemicals lying around," Richards said.

"Despite the big volumes collected over the years, we know there are still properties with unwanted chemicals.

"While we can't guarantee all booked chemicals will be free or subsidised, funding tends to cover the majority of bookings."

To take advantage of the collections, farmers should book by May 26 via the Agrecovery website.

 - Stuff

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