New Zealand’s on-farm plastic recycling initiative, Plasback, is gaining momentum as the agricultural industry moves to reduce its environmental impact. Since the beginning of the year two Kiwi silage wrap importers – Nutritech and Tulloch Farm Machines – have joined the Plasback scheme.
Also, dairy giant Fonterra has launched its Co-operative Difference framework, under which it pays suppliers more for producing sustainable, high-quality milk. Joining the Plasback scheme is one step dairy farmers can take to meet the criteria for sustainable production under Fonterra’s new framework. Plasback manager Chris Hartshorne welcomes these developments and says it indicates the industry is really starting to take product stewardship of farm plastics seriously.
“We welcome the support of Tullochs and Nutritech. It is good to see suppliers take a responsible approach toward the environment and their customers. We encourage all silage wrap suppliers to join the scheme as well. “Last year the Ministry for the Environment decided that all farm plastics sold in New Zealand will have to be covered by an accredited product stewardship scheme. “This means everyone in the farm plastics supply chain – from manufacturers through to consumers – will be responsible for recycling leftover plastic products and packaging. “How this will be done for the full range of plastics sold to farmers is yet to be worked out, but Plasback already provides an accredited service to collect silage wrap and some chemical drums direct from the farm gate.”
Chris says Plasback is a voluntary, user-pays system. As demand for the service increases, there is a need to expand its infrastructure to manage increased volumes.
“Our concern is that if all silage wrap distributors do not support the scheme, the government will legislate mandatory fees, which will cost the industry more and could be less convenient for farmers.”
Nutritech national sales manager Shaun Benefield says the company has been in business for 106 years, so it understands the need to be sustainable.
“This approach is driven both by our board of directors and our customers. There is no escaping the need for suppliers to take a proactive approach to sustainability. Nor should there be,” Shaun says. “PlasBack is an obvious partner for us as we enter
further into the forage consumable market with our Silostop® Orange oxygen barrier film. Silostop® is a 45μm oxygen barrier which has one third of the amount of plastic compared to a conventional black and white cover, so there is less plastic needing to be recycled. “Our conversation with Chris was fairly straight forward. Nutritech has decided to invest in Plasback over a three year period initially.
“Our customers have told us on many occasions that disposing of forage plastic is a genuine concern. It is comforting for us to know they have the option to recycle their Silostop® film through Plasback.”