Summer no longer means a heap of sodden, stinking, filthy silage wrap for Inglewood farmer Gary Kemp.
In the past, he’s wasted glorious summer days getting rid of the rubbish from winter feed stacks, but now he’s joined a small and growing number of Taranaki farmers who recycle their silage wrap.
The Taranaki Regional Council estimates that 760 tonnes of wrap are used in Taranaki each year. In 2006 and 2007, only 10½ tones – less than 1 per cent -was recycled, but by last year the amount had increased to 37 tonnes, or 4.8 per cent.
Mr Kemp, who uses about 200 bales of silage a year on his 115-hectare farm, has been recyling wrap for about three years, and is surprised that more farmers don’t do it.
”I thought more farmers would have taken it up. It’s such a hassle to get rid of it. Perhaps farmers are not aware of [the recycling programme].”
He said he recycled the wrap because it meant he no longer had to deal with the mess it made, and because it saved him time. ”The greenies mightn’t like it, but 80 per cent of the reason is the mess.”
Before buying his Agpac bin, he used to throw the wrap in a heap, hoping it wouldn’t blow away. When he went to clean it up six months later, the stinking pile was always full of water. He burned the wrap because he had no other way of getting rid of it.
”It didn’t matter what you did, you would still have piles of silage wrap. It’d take a whole day in spring or summer to clean up. It’s dirty, wet, s….y stuff and it blows all over the place.”
The bin cost him $500, and liners cost $30 each. He rolls the wrap neatly so he can put as much as possible in the liner. ”I used to just throw it in, but you learn as you go. Now I put it in properly.”
A lid prevents water getting inside the bin, and clips on the side allow the liner to be extracted easily. When the liner is full, he puts it on his ute and drops it at Inglewood contractors Ken G Moratti Ltd.
”Without a lid, there’d be a stinking mess.
”What puts you off is the initial $500. But I don’t regret spending the money because of the time I save.
”And the farm is much tidier there’s no wrap lying in heaps, and it doesn’t blow around. It’s definitely made my life easier.”
He said he hoped that the cost of the liners would fall as more farmers recycled their wrap, allowing the recyclers to make money from it.
Ken G Moratti Ltd owner Billy Moratti has sold about 30 bins since the recycling programme began about three years ago. ”It’s really taken off this year. It’s better that the cockies do it voluntarily. Otherwise they’ll be pushed into it (recycling).”
The liners are collected twice a year from his Inglewood depot. ”It’s a good programme. I like to get rid of the stuff instead of burying or burning it. It’s got to be good for the environment.”
About 25 liners, each containing about 150 silage wrappers, perhaps weighing about a ton, were collected from his depot about two weeks ago.
The Taranaki Regional Council’s director, environment quality, Gary Bedford, said recycling was a far better option for disposing of bale wrap than the traditional burning or burying, both of which presented environmental problems.
”Burning plastic releases toxic fumes, while buried plastic rarely stays put unless it is tightly packed and buried deep. And we appreciate that burial can be an irksome task for farmers.
”Once it works its way back to the surface, plastic tends to be dispersed by the wind and can end up disfiguring and blocking waterways, damaging plants and harming stock, birds, pets or other animals,” he said.
Plasback, the largest of the three recycling programmes available in Taranaki, processes the recycled wraps in Christchurch into plastic pellets.
Smaller volumes have been recycled through the Agrecovery scheme since last year, and through Egmont Refuse in Hawera.
Taranaki contractors Ken Moratti, of Inglewood, Mark Hinton and Barry Taunt, of Stratford, and Michael Silson all provide bins for silage wrap and Egmont Refuse accepts silage wrap contained, for example, in urea bags for a nominal charge.