May 6th, 2021

New backers give boost to Plasback

 

New Zealand’s on-farm plastic recycling initiative, Plasback, is gaining momentum as the agricultural industry moves to reduce its environmental impact. Since the beginning of the year two Kiwi silage wrap importers – Nutritech and Tulloch Farm Machines – have joined the Plasback scheme. Also Fonterra has launched its Co-operative Difference framework, under which it pays farmers for producing sustainable, high-quality milk. Joining the Plasback scheme is one step dairy farmers can take to meet the criteria for sustainable production under Fonterra’s new framework. Plasback manager Chris Hartshorne welcomes these developments and says it indicates the industry is really starting to take product stewardship of farm plastics seriously.

“We welcome the support of Tullochs and Nutritech. It is good to see suppliers take a responsible approach toward the environment and their customers. We encourage all New Zealand silage wrap suppliers to join the scheme. 

“Last year the Ministry for the Environment decided that all farm plastics sold in this country will have to be covered by an accredited product stewardship scheme. 

“This means everyone in the farm plastics supply chain – from manufacturers through to consumers – will be responsible for recycling leftover plastic products and packaging. 

“How this will be done for the full range of plastics sold to farmers is yet to be worked out, but Plasback already provides an accredited service to collect silage wrap and some chemical drums direct from the farm gate.” 

Chris says Plasback is a voluntary, user-pays system. As demand for the service increases, there is a need to expand its infrastructure to manage increased volumes. 

“Our concern is that if all silage wrap distributors do not support the scheme, the government will legislate mandatory fees, which will cost the industry more and could be less convenient for farmers.” 

Nutritech 

Nutritech national sales manager Shaun Benefield says the company has been in business for 106 years, so it understands the need to be sustainable. 

“This approach is driven both by our board of directors and our customers. There is no escaping the need for suppliers to take a proactive approach to sustainability. Nor should there be,” Shaun says. 

“Plasback is an obvious partner for us as we enter further into the forage consumable market with our Silostop orange oxygen barrier film. Silostop is a 45 micron oxygen barrier film that contains one third the amount of plastic than there is in a conventional black and white cover. This means farmers who use Silostop have less plastic that needs to be recycled.” 

Shaun says Nutritech’s conversation with Chris was fairly straight forward. Nutritech has decided to invest in Plasback over a three year period initially. 

“Our customers have told us on many occasions that disposing of forage plastic is a genuine concern. It is comforting for us to know they have the option to recycle their Silostop film through Plasback.” 

Tulloch Farm Machines 

Tulloch Farm Machines is the New Zealand distributor of Krone balers and other forage harvesting equipment. It also supplies Krone branded silage wrap through its dealer network. General manager John Tulloch says his company recently launched a new brand and company commitment called Toward Greener Pastures. ”

We want our clients’ farming businesses to thrive a result of our machinery and the support we provide, and we want to encourage sustainable practices to ensure farming’s future. 

“At the end of the day we have to help clean up the environment and recycling is one way we can do that. The government is urging importers to get on board and the easiest way for us to do that is by joining an accredited scheme that is already up and running.” 

John says supplying Krone-branded silage film is a way that Krone dealers can enhance the service they provide their customers. Krone machines often work better with Krone netwrap and silage film. 

Co-operative Difference 

Under Fonterra’s new Co-operative Difference initiative, from 1st June, up to 10 cents of a farm’s milk payment will be determined by its sustainability measures and milk quality. Fonterra Farm Source group director Richard Allen says Fonterra farmers are among the world’s most responsible and that is something to be proud of. 

“The Co-operative Difference payment is another way we can recognise farmers and grow the value of New Zealand milk by responding to the worldwide demand for sustainably-produced dairy,” Richard says. 

“The new payment recognises farmers who have already innovated and invested. It also encourages farmers to take the steps required to meet the changing expectations of customers and communities. 

“We want to reward on-farm efforts that demonstrate the Co-op’s care for the environment, animals, people and communities.” 

The 10 cent Co-operative Difference payment is made up of 7 cents/kg of milk solids for achievement in four sustainability focus areas. Once they have achieved this, farmers can gain another 3 cents/kg MS for milk that meets Fonterra’s excellence standard. 

The four sustainability criteria cover 1) the environment, 2) co-op and prosperity, 3) animal well-being, and 4) people and community. 

To meet the environment standard, Fonterra suppliers must have a farm environment plan and carry out at least three of four critical environmental practices. 

One of these four practices is to participate in a product stewardship scheme for farm plastics and agrichemicals. Plasback and Agrecovery are the two accredited schemes that meet Fonterra’s criteria. 

“Responsible management of our plastic waste and agrichemicals is the right thing to do. Increasingly our customers and communities are looking for companies that can show they are caring for the environment,” Richard says. 

For more information contact Plasback’s Chris Hartshorne on 03 338 2400 or email chartshorne@agpac.co.nz.  

Caption: John Tulloch (left) and Chris Hartshorne shake hands to mark Tulloch Farm Machines joining the Plasback scheme. Article written by Paul Titus, and printed in the Rural Contractor and Large Scale Farmer magazine.

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