Ngai Tahu Farming has diverted 45 per cent of its farming operation’s waste from landfill to recycled products thanks to an innovative agricultural plastics recycling scheme.
The iwi farming organisation has been targeting waste reduction as part of Te Runanga o Ngai Tahu climate action plan Te Kounga Paparangi – Leading the Change for the Future. Launched last year, the plan details 88 ways to tackle climate change, build resilience, and promote sustainable business practices.
Ngai Tahu Farming environmental manager Monique Daulton says the goal of achieving sustainable business practices requires the team to go further than caring for the whenua and livestock, and they are committed to reducing their plastic waste on farm.
The company’s Canterbury operation includes 2500 ha of dairy, 1300 ha of dairy support and 1100 ha of beef and lamb finishing, and requires a large amount of dry matter to keep the thousands of sheep and cattle optimally fed.
“Annually we harvest 5 million kg of dry matter for silage. It is stored in 20 silage stacks for the dairy and dairy support farms, and 5000 bales of baleage for the sheep and beef blocks. This creates baling twine, silage wrap and pit cover waste that has traditionally gone to landfill,” Daulton says.
Ngai Tahu Farming dairy support and grazing manager George Mauger says Plasback has effectively changed the team’s mindset towards how they handle plastic waste.
“Plasback held informative workshops for our large workforce of 60 kaimahi (staff) and sharemilkers, which made us think differently about our approach. We are thrilled everyone has embraced the changes and the new waste processes have become the new normal.
“Recycling wherever possible to minimise our waste aligns well with the team’s kaitiakitanga (stewardship) values. No one wants to be dumping plastic into landfill when there are better solutions out there,” he says.
Plasback commercial manager Neal Shaw says although recycling plastic farm waste does take a little more time, the positive outcomes are worth the extra effort.
“While waste silage wrap must be cleaned, shredded, and dried before it is recycled into plastic pellets to make new products, we make this process as painless as possible.
“We provide our customers with large bins and then teach everyone how to use them effectively to separate their plastic into different waste streams, it’s a lot easier than people think.”
Demonstrating that it is possible for farming operations of all sizes to implement positive change, Ngai Tahu Farming now sends Plasback 150 to 180 bags of plastic annually.
This amounts to 30-36 tonnes of plastic that is no longer going to landfill each year.