More Taranaki farmers are making their chemical drums go another round through a rural recycling programme.
Among them is ground spray contractor Rick Coplestone who has set up an Agrecovery collection point at his Stratford yard and said farmers in the area were slowly but surely coming on board.
For years Coplestone had no suitable place to dispose of the used chemical drums which are part of his everyday operations but didn’t want to bury or burn them.
Research showed buried containers took more than 400 years to decompose, while burning them released harmful toxins.
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After using the nationwide Agrecovery scheme to recycle his plastic containers, Coplestone decided to take his involvement a step further.
“I have a yard right next to the regional council so I asked them if I could put a recycling container in it,” he said.
Coplestone’s team at Central Spraying Services pick up empty drums from farms while on the job and other agricultural contractors also dropped their drums off at his yard.
Farmers in the area were slowly coming on board, with some bringing containers into the yard themselves and others asking their contractors to “supply, apply and recycle” for their spraying.
Coplestone said he used a lot of drums and although he was not a ‘greenie’, it wouldn’t be right to dispose of the empties any other way.
“Digging a big hole and burying or burning them is not environmentally viable,” he said.
He encouraged people to get involved and said farmers who tried the scheme quickly realised how easy and convenient it was.
“I find it easy to recycle and I’m happy to make it easier for others.”
The Agrecovery scheme was started by the Ministry for the Environment in 2007.
Companies pay a levy to the Agrecovery Foundation to have their agricultural plastics and chemicals recycled. Companies that are not part of the scheme can also have containers and chemicals recycled if the end-user pays.
The scheme accepts labelled containers from 65 different brands, and operates 70 container collection sites around the country.
Containers up to 60 litres are recycled in New Zealand into safe end uses, mainly as underground cable covers. Drums of 61-1000 litres are either returned to brand owners for re-use, or delivered to recycling partners where they are either reconditioned or shredded for recycling, depending on their type and condition.
The scheme uses qualified chemical contractors for the collection and disposal of unwanted chemicals. Chemicals are disposed according to New Zealand regulations and depending on the class of chemical, they are either disposed of in New Zealand or in France in special high temperature incineration plants.
In the past 10 years, Agrecovery has helped farmers recycle over 1.5 million kilograms of plastic products and over 99,000kg of chemicals.
In the 2015-16 financial year the scheme recovered over 236,000kg of plastic. This figure is seven times greater than the amount collected in the scheme’s first year of operation. Around 2300 drums were recycled in 2015.