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Rural recycling a no-brainer

Rural recycling a no-brainer


By Simon Andrew

Supporting farmers and growers to clear more waste and preserve New Zealand farms for future generations is the mission of the rural recycling programme, Agrecovery.

In tackling the plastic used by our rural communities, the leading product stewardship programme recycles over 300 tonnes per year. “That is enough plastic to cover a rugby field six feet high,” says Agrecovery General Manager, Simon Andrew.

When a plastic agricultural container takes 700 years to degrade and burning plastic wreaks havoc on our environment. Then it makes sense to use Agrecovery’s service to recycle empty agrichemical, animal health and dairy hygiene containers.

This service is free for products from participating brand owners.

Farmers and growers are able to drop off empty plastic containers at close to 80 drop-off points across New Zealand. For those with high volumes, or for more than three large plastic drums, on-farm pick-ups can be arranged.

“It makes recycling your empty containers and drums a no-brainer,” says Andrew.

Since the programme commenced, it has diverted over 2,000 tonnes of plastic. This plastic is then repurposed in New Zealand as underground cable cover. “It’s a completely sustainable, 100 percent solution,” says Andrew.

“We don’t ship it to another country for recycling, so there is also minimal impact on the environment,” he says.

The programme also offers safe disposal of unwanted or expired agrichemicals and has collected over 100 tonnes of them so far. “We want to make sure that old chemicals are disposed of correctly,” Andrew says.

Agrecovery is a great example of how manufacturers, industry, government and consumers can work together to reduce the harmful impacts of plastic waste on our environment.

“The programme is growing year-on-year, with a 40 percent increase in the volume of plastic recycled in just the last 12 months,” says Andrew.

It is accredited by the Ministry of the Environment as a product stewardship initiative and is supported by seven primary industry trustee organisations who govern the programme.

The initiative is made possible through 60 participating agrichemical brands who voluntarily pay a levy on all the products they sell so that farmers and growers can use this service for free. It’s also made possible by retailers like Farmlands; Farmsource; Rural Co; and PGG Wrightson, who volunteer their time and space to help with the collection of empty containers.

“These companies show a commendable commitment to product stewardship and sustainability by helping their customers responsibly dispose of leftover chemicals and packaging through the Agrecovery programme,” says Andrew.

But we can’t rest on our laurels. More needs to be done to support farmers to rid of their waste.

Andrew asks farmers and growers to buy from participating brand owners. “If you buy from those who aren’t participating in the scheme, talk to your rep about getting them to be part of the solution,” he says.

For rural retailers wanting to become a drop-off point, to make it more convenient for local customers to clear more waste, “come talk to us,” says Andrew. “Your customers will appreciate the service, and it will incentivise them to come back to your store.”

The recycling programme is also pursuing options for capturing other waste, such as fertiliser packaging, by delivering a cost-efficient and convenient recycling service.

So join the other 11,000 farmers and growers who recycle through Agrecovery, buy agrichemicals from participating brands – or ask others to join, and do your bit to support our environment.

• Simon Andrew is general manager of Agrecovery, New Zealand’s solution for the safe disposal of unwanted agrichemicals, and the recycling of empty containers, drums and IBCs.

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