July 15th, 2020

Plasback dismayed at Buller River plastic pollution

New Zealand’s nation-wide on farm recycling scheme, Plasback, has reached out to Wild Rivers Rafting with an offer to collect the waste plastic wrap it has picked up from the Buller River so that it can be recycled.

A recent item on TV1 news highlighted the work that Wild Rivers Rafting co-owner Bruce Thomas has done to clean up plastic waste from the banks of the Buller River.

Plasback manager Chris Hartshorne says he applauds Bruce’s efforts and he shares his concern for the environment.

“Like Associate Minister for the Environment Eugenie Sage, we are very concerned at the shocking images of plastic in the Buller River.

“The West Coast is renowned for its outstanding natural beauty but also well-known for its wild weather. It is important that farmers there store their waste plastic correctly, so they don’t lose control of plastic and keep it out of rivers.”

Chris says plastic in any New Zealand river is upsetting, in part, because it is unnecessary. Plasback offers farmers throughout New Zealand the ability to have their plastic collected from their properties for a small fee.

And, he says, growing numbers of them are doing the right thing and signing up with Plasback.

“Over the past 12 months we have seen a substantial increase in the volume of waste plastics we have collected throughout the country, including the West Coast.

“During our 2019-2020 collection cycle, we collected more than 3900 tonnes of plastic, which is twice the amount we collected during the previous annual cycle.

“The farming community should be acknowledged for its growing efforts to look after its plastic waste responsibly. Now we need others in the industry, namely all companies that import farm plastics, to do their part and support the Plasback scheme.”

Plasback is an industry-led accredited voluntary Product Stewardship scheme. It is in its 15th year of operation and has collected more than 16,000 tonnes of waste plastics from the primary sector.

Chris says, while Plasback supports legislation that would make all producers, suppliers and consumers of farm plastic responsible for what happens to the product at the end of its life, two leading suppliers in the industry have already taken the initiative and are doing it.

“Plasback’s strength is its on farm collection service. Silage film is a challenging product to recycle. It is not like a fizzy drink bottle where the farmer can pay a deposit and get the money back when they return it.

“We are dealing with a bulky waste stream that must be collected from thousands of rural properties. Once we have collected it, it must be processed, transported to recycling markets, and cleaned before it can be made into new products.”

Chris says Plasback is ready to work with the Ministry of the Environment and the wider agricultural industry to improve the New Zealand’s efforts to increase farm plastic recycling and improve the environment.

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

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