OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAfter more than 45 years as an agricultural pilot, Hallett Griffin has long dealt with the issue of disposing of the many plastic agrichemical containers generated in his line of work.

Based in Palmerston North, he owns agricultural aviation company Griffin Ag Air, which he formed with his wife Gloria in 1981 after spending the previous 18 years flying for Manawatu Aerial Topdressing.

These days the business operates across an extensive area in the Manawatu region with Hallett doing the aerial spraying while another pilot does the topdressing – the spraying alone amounts to around 50,000ha a year, he says.

This generates a lot of empty plastic agrichemical containers which need to be disposed of, but the recent installation of an Agrecovery collection site at the Griffin Ag Air depot has made the process a lot easier, he says.

‘We are spraying for thistles in winter and crops in summer so, being an all-year round operation, we are using a lot of chemicals.

‘I started using the Agrecovery collection site in Feilding as soon as it opened a couple of years ago, and then Agrecovery approached me to set up another collection site for the region at our depot.

‘I thought this was a good idea and it has made it much easier for us, as well as providing farmers and growers in the surrounding area with another convenient location to recycle their containers.’

NZ Agricultural Aviation Association’s (NZAAA) executive officer John Maber agrees that disposing of agrichemicals has been made a lot easier with the advent of the Agrecovery Container Recycling programme.

The NZAAA’s voluntary accreditation programme is made up of six codes of practice (see www.nzaaa.co.nz) including the NZS8409 Standard ‘Management of Agrichemicals’ that requires operators to dispose of their chemicals and containers safely.

‘If you look at this standard it says containers must be returned to the manufacturer but often this is not a feasible option and users are left wanting to do the right thing but unable to,’ says John.

‘Through Agrecovery they now have an alternative, funded by the manufacturers. It’s a very good programme and we would encourage all operators to make use of it both for recycling the products they purchase, as well as those supplied by their clients.’

Hallett says that over his years in the business, he has witnessed a growing awareness of the impact of rural practices on the environment – both within the agricultural aviation industry as well as the wider community.

‘Participating in the Agrecovery programme is a great way to be part of this loop of being more aware and friendly to the environment.

‘It is also good for our image with our clients and the people in Palmerston North who are very interested in things sustainable.

‘Agrecovery should be congratulated for tackling this major problem and providing a practical recycling programme.’