Rural recycling rates hit a record high in Agrecovery’s last financial year with collection volumes growing by 24 percent and the programme posting its sixth consecutive year of growth.

In the 12 months to June 2013, around 8,000 farmers and growers diverted 507 tonnes of empty chemical containers, silage plastics and chemicals for recycling or safe disposal.

Other highlights for the year include a 30 percent jump in the number of people using Agrecovery, including a large increase in the number of pastoral farmers, and a 37 percent increase in the volume of unwanted or expired chemicals collected for safe disposal.

“We have seen a huge increase in recycling and the responsible disposal of waste chemicals by farmers and growers this year,” says Graeme Peters, Agrecovery Foundation Chairman.

“Together we have diverted over 500 tonnes of plastic and hazardous chemicals that might have otherwise been burnt, buried or thrown down a gully somewhere, polluting our land and leaving a waste problem for someone else to deal with.”

Particularly pleasing to Agrecovery is the increase in participation from sheep, beef and dairy farmers who have historically had lower participation rates than horticulturalists.

“We’ve been working very hard with the pastoral sector to promote Agrecovery in the last couple of years,” says Graeme. ”So it’s pleasing to see over 60 percent of all Agrecovery members now describe themselves as a livestock or dairy farmer, which is representative of the overall size of that sector.”

Agrecovery Sales and Marketing Manager Duncan Scotland credits the growth in collected chemicals for the year to additional funding support and increased awareness of the service.

“Our recent Waikato event collected a record 6,100 kg of chemicals off farms which is the largest take back for a region we have ever had. That increase is due to support received from the Waikato Regional Council which funded the recovery of chemicals that usually fall into the user pays category, and financial support received from the Waste Minimisation Fund, which is administered by the Ministry for the Environment” says Duncan.

Overall industry support for Agrecovery is also higher than ever with around 60 manufacturers of agrichemicals, animal health and other rural products financially supporting the programme, and numerous other associations helping to promote it.

“The end result of this collaboration is a comprehensive service which is either free or as affordable as possible to users. We’d encourage any farmers and growers not using Agrecovery to get in touch and see how easy it is to start recycling on their property,” says Duncan.

Provisional recycling results for the 12 months to 30 June 2013

  • Agrecovery collected a total of 507,671 kg of plastic and chemicals from farmers and growers, overall volume growth of 24 percent for the programme.
  • 182,331 kg of empty chemical and animal health containers was collected from 70 permanent Agrecovery sites and supporting event activity (enough to fill about 200 twenty foot shipping containers). The plastic is recycled at Astron Plastics in Auckland and Christchurch and converted into a range of uses including underground electrical cable covers. Agrecovery’s annual volume of container plastic could be used in the production of a 15cm wide cable cover that reached from Auckland to Invercargill and back.
  • 309,417 kg of silage plastics and other films was collected. A typical round bale contains around 1kg of plastic, so this volume represents approximately 309,000 bale wraps recycled. This plastic is collected, consolidated and exported to Asia where it is recycled into a range of suitable products. Currently there is no processing capacity for this type of plastic in New Zealand.
  • Five chemical collection events were held, with total collection volume of 15,923kg, up 37% on the prior year.

Amount collected by region