Monday, April 22, 2024

Tonnes of silage wrap going to waste

Neal Wallace
Recycling company keen to get hold of bale plastic for recycling into goods offshore.
Reading Time: 2 minutes

Only about half the plastic silage wrap used by farmers each year is recovered and recycled – despite a Christchurch company saying it could take everything that is used.

The other half is burned or buried, but from 2025 a government levy will be charged on the purchase of silage warp to fund its recovery and disposal.

Plasback claims it could all be recycled into useful farm and building products.

The company’s commercial manager, Neal Shaw, said since 2006 it has recovered 32 million kilograms of plastic wrap and other farm plastics through its own collection system and working with the Agrecovery Rural Recycling Programme.

In 2006 it collected nine tonnes, but last year the total was 6100t of mostly silage wrap but also polypropylene bags, twine, irrigation pipes, tree guards and 100 and 200 litre drums.

Shaw said these are shipped offshore for processing due to water and energy requirements being too costly for New Zealand recyclers.

“Right now we could take it all and find a home a home for it,” he said from his company’s stand at Southern Field Days.

Processing the waste back into resin is slow at only 300kg an hour due to issues with contamination.

The resin is returned to NZ and turned into drums, culverts, board that can line horse floats, calf and deer sheds, decking for woolsheds, chillers, for use in camping or in boats, builder’s film rolls, and a plastic alternative to wood.

Shaw said the imposition of a levy from 2025 will fund initiatives to reduce waste and encourage recovery.

“It makes even less sense for farmers to not make available products for recycling because they are contributing to the cost from 2025.”

He said the levy is due to the lack of an industry solution for handling used plastic.

One issue is NZ’s high internal freight costs.

Shaw said it is cheaper to freight an empty 100 or 200 litre barrel for recycling from the South Island to Asia than it is to transport it to Auckland.

Recycling of plastic is a huge and growing industry in Asia and Shaw said they want as much as they can get.

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