Supporting farmers to preserve the environment by providing alternatives to the harmful disposal practices of burning, burying and stockpiling of waste is vital for the future of New Zealand.
Guidelines announced by the Associate Minister for the Environment Eugenie Sage are a shot in the arm for rural recycling. The Minister launched a consultation, under the Waste Minimisation Act, which sees agrichemical containers and farm plastics become priority products. This means that manufacturers must take responsibility for any plastic packaging and unwanted product.
Agrecovery, which runs such a scheme voluntarily, commends the government for ensuring that all product manufacturers participate in recycling and repurposing end-of-life product packaging. The focus needs to be on retaining convenient, reliable and cost-effective services for farmers and growers, backed by a system that adds value to collected resources and finds new markets for recycled materials. This underpins a circular economy approach.
Agrecovery’s General Manager Simon Andrew says “our absolute focus is to help farmers and growers to recycle and sustainably dispose of waste”. He says that the not-for-profit organisation works hard to ensure that there are streamlined processes for container recycling and sustainable agrichemical disposal – and the results are paying off.
“We’ve seen huge uptakes in recycling in the last few years. In the past year, 436 tonnes of plastic was recycled through our programme and made into useful materials for New Zealanders.
“This is a stellar result, with an increase in recycling rates of over 40 percent on the year before, and almost double the figures of three years ago.
“Maintaining a system that works for our rural communities, is responsive to their needs and removes barriers to recycling is vital. This responsiveness and efficiency plays a large part in lifting recycling rates.
“We have support from the manufacturers who fund our programmes and would love to see all brands participate. Removing free-riders will level the playing field and allow all products to be recycled. This also removes the confusion for farmers and growers on which products can be recycled for free. This would be a huge bonus for our rural communities,” says Andrew.
The Agrecovery Foundation started in 2006, setting its sights to clear plastic agrichemical containers and drums from farms and orchards around the country. The agrichemical industry chose to fund the programme to take responsibility for its packaging and make it into useful products for New Zealanders. The programme also sustainably disposes of unwanted agrichemicals.
Since its inception, Agrecovery has diverted over 3000 tonnes of packaging and unwanted product from harmful disposal practices.
Over 70 manufacturers of crop protection products, veterinary medicines, dairy hygiene and liquid fertiliser products support Agrecovery through a voluntary levy.
Agrecovery has high ambitions to find new uses for packaging and end-of-life products. This is done by partnering with industry groups, manufacturers, government, councils, and farmers and growers. The end goal is to make it easier for rural communities to give new life to valuable resources – supporting a circular economy.
Source: Agrecovery Foundation