Agrecovery Rural Recycling container collections hit 30,000 kg for the month of May, the largest ever monthly volume since the programme began in 2007.

This record month comes on the back of significant increases in new members, collection volumes and website interest during the annual Agrecovery promotion, which gives recyclers the chance to win $5000 in prizes.

Duncan Scotland, Marketing Manager for Agrecovery says “The 30,000 kg equates to a 20ft shipping container being filled with recycled plastic every day of the month, so it was a lot of containers diverted from burning or dumping.”

Scotland says farmers and growers are responding to the changing farming environment where demand for sustainable practices from both the market and the public keeps growing, plus significant regulatory changes like the ban on burning of agricultural plastics introduced by Environment Canterbury in January.

“In the first four months after the ban came into force, we saw recycled container collections in the Canterbury region increase by 70%, compared to the same period last year.

“It’s a significant positive change in behaviour away from harmful burning practices that are fast becoming a thing of the past.

“It’s not all consumer pressure and burning bans though – farmers and growers, like anyone, find it hard to resist a good old fashioned prize draw. So, over the last couple of years we’ve held a recycling promotion each February and March which rewards ten recyclers for their green efforts.”

During the two reward months, recycling volumes increased 12% compared to the same promotional period in 2013, while the joining rate for new members doubled.

“We also saw a huge lift in visitors to the Agrecovery website – this is increased interest which usually translates into actually recycling activity.”

According to Graeme Peters, Chair of the Agrecovery Foundation, the programme’s number one strategic priority is increasing the amount of plastic removed from rural areas. “A record month and increased activity overall shows that the plans put in place by the board and carried out by its management team are on the right track.

“The 60 companies which support Agrecovery through paying a levy on plastic containers will be pleased that their money is being spent in the right area – increasing the recycling of their containers,” says Peters.

The empty triple rinsed containers are recycled at plants in Auckland and Christchurch, with most of the plastic being used to make underground cable covers.

According to Agrecovery, the 190 tonnes of containers collected so far this financial year equates to a 15cm wide cable cover reaching from Auckland to Invercargill and back. The amount of energy saved using this volume of recycled plastic versus new plastic equates to 323,000 litres of petrol.