Silage wrap recycling is gaining pace. New Zealand’s farm plastic recycling specialist Plasback says it recently passed the 3000 tonne mark and it will add another 1000 tonne to its total this year.
Plasback manager Chris Hartshorne says the scheme is now in its eighth year and growing numbers of farmers are coming on board to support it.
“The year we set up the scheme we collected just nine tonnes of waste plastic wrap. Over the past four years the rate of collection has increased steadily. We have now collected a total of 3000 tonne, and we expect to collect 1000 tonne in the next year alone.
“Recycling is not a flash-in-the-pan fad but a real, committed programme that Kiwi farmers support. We have an excellent network of professional contractors in place to collect silage wrap and a range of other plastic waste from farms, and we are looking at acquiring more balers to handle our increased volumes.”
Chris Hartshorne says the recent departure of Agrecovery from farm plastic recycling will not reduce the amount collected nationally and should actually make the initiative more efficient.
“There was some brand confusion in the market with two companies offering identical services. We have the capacity to handle all of the farmers who were using Agrecovery. In fact, as our scheme grows, it becomes more effective because our collectors can make more frequent pickups.”
Plasback liners are now in all rural services retail outlets that used to carry Agrecovery liners.
At the beginning of the year, Environment Canterbury’s ban on burning polyethylene agricultural silage and bale wrap came into effect. The penalty for breaching the ban is $300 for a first offence and up to $1050 for repeat offences.
Environment Canterbury is urging farmers to recycle through Plasback as an alternative to burning.
Chris Hartshorne says Canterbury is among the first regional council to enact a ban but this is the direction the rest of New Zealand is heading. Some regional councils have bans pending and others are carrying out research on the volumes of waste generated on farm.
He believes voluntary, user-pays recycling initiatives are more effective than government mandated systems based on levies.
“We know that voluntary recycling programmes, such as Plasback, are cheaper to run and more effective than systems that apply a levy onto the cost of the product. We hope farmers continue to support voluntary recycling because we don’t want to see mandatory schemes put in place,” Chris Hartshorne says.