Farmers and growers are demonstrating their commitment to the environment by achieving record-breaking volumes of recycling through the rural recycling programme, Agrecovery.

A staggering 532 tonnes of plastic, from used agrichemical containers, was collected from Agrecovery’s sites, events and via on-farm pick-ups over the past year. This represents a 32 percent increase and is “a massive leap from the 405 tonnes collected the previous year,” says Agrecovery Chief Executive Tony Wilson.

“Like most consumers, farmers and growers are often left with plastic packaging and they don’t want it to end up in landfill or release emissions by burning it.  They are motivated to do the right thing – and the best thing is to turn it into a resource that doesn’t get wasted,” Wilson says.

The plastic that Agrecovery collects is shredded, cleaned and broken down into a resin before being made into materials like cable cover and damp course – a building material to prevent rising damp. These products are sold locally for locals, “it’s a great example of a circular economy,” says Wilson.

Wilson says that because the whole recycling process is done in New Zealand, “we use fewer emissions than shipping the plastic offshore, we reuse the materials, and our programme has the added bonus of supporting the local economy.   It’s a win-win,” he says.

“Farmers are under increasing pressure to meet regulatory requirements and face increasing consumer scrutiny.  We are proud to be able to offer a service to help meet some of those demands.”

They are also asking Agrecovery to collect other plastic packaging as well.  “We’ve heard their call and are starting to collect soft plastics like LDPE bags.”

“Our goal is to collect all types of farm plastics. Our High-density polyethylene (HDPE) recycling is well established and it’s time to tackle other plastic types.  We want to raise the game to achieve better environmental outcomes for rural communities by removing plastic from farms,” says Wilson.

The Agrecovery Product Stewardship Scheme is focused on providing an easy and convenient scheme for farmers and growers that meets the needs of the Government and the brands that fund the programme.

“Supporting farmers to preserve the environment by providing alternatives to the harmful disposal practices of burning, burying and stock-piling of waste is vital for the future of New Zealand. As a not-for-profit organisation, we are ideally suited to lead the charge on this and provide solutions for our farmers and growers in their role as kaitiakitanga – being good stewards of the land.  We are backed by industry, manufacturers, retailers, distributors and farmers and growers.

Agrecovery recycles more than half of the agrichemical containers and drum plastic sold in the New Zealand market.  Those manufacturers who participate in the programme pay a voluntary levy to support the recycling of the containers and recovery of any end of life product – at no cost to the farmer.