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Don’t stockpile that waste, farmers told

IT has been common practice for decades and still goes on today — albeit a bit more hush-hush — the dumping of rubbish, appliances, furniture and general waste in big holes on rural land.

Agrecovery general manager Simon Andrew said their “absolute focus” was to help farmers and growers to recycle and sustainably dispose of waste.

It was vital for the future of New Zealand, and would be done by providing alternatives to the harmful disposal practices of burning, burying and stockpiling of waste, he said.

Associate Minister for the Environment Eugenie Sage has 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 runs such a scheme voluntarily, and 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.

Mr Andrew said the not-for-profit organisation worked hard to ensure there were streamlined processes for container recycling and sustainable agrichemical disposal — and the results were 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.

CLEANING UP: The Agrecovery programme, which recycles agrichemical containers and drums and disposes of unwanted agrichemicals, has been trialling a project that allows farmers and growers to drop off a variety of waste at one location. File picture