Plastic products are used extensively in agricultural applications.
Traditionally, farmers had few options for the disposal of on-farm plastic wastes, due to the contaminated nature of the plastics, low volumes and distance to markets. Plastics may have been left in the fields, buried on site, or burnt (which is now illegal). These methods contaminate our air, water, soil and stock. Plastics left in fields may be consumed by animals; and when burnt, can generate the highly toxic, bio-accumulative poisons dioxin and furans. Chemicals from buried plastics may leach into waterways.
Recycling Farm Plastics
New Zealand has several companies that accept a variety of farm plastic wastes, which are able to be processed into new products.
- Silage wrap
- Silage pit covers
- LDPE feed bags
- Pallet covers
- Polypropylene feed, seed and fertiliser bags
- HDPE drums.
The following can be recycled by Agrecovery:
Some tips for handling agricultural waste plastics
- Store silage bales on concrete if possible
- Remove wrap before moving bales to feeding areas
- Fully empty all bags – brush or shake if necessary
- If possible, remove crop covers in optimum dry conditions to avoid contamination
- Separate and store plastic wastes as they arise, not after they have blown around the fields.
- Empty, triple rinse and drain agrichemical containers – dispose of contaminated water safely.
- Separate plastics according to type: wrap and film; fertiliser bags; crop nets etc
- Store waste plastics at one site to ease collection
Rural Waste Minimisation Project
In April 2019 the government announced a nationwide Rural Waste Minimisation Project. The project includes pop up events around the country that will act as drop off points and education stalls for rural recycling and waste minimisation.