Rural recycling disrupted

This season's high baleage production will add to the problems of correctly disposing of bale wrap. Photo: Yvonne O'Hara
This season's high baleage production will add to the problems of correctly disposing of bale wrap. Photo: Yvonne O'Hara
The ongoing disruptions in the global plastic recycling have spilled over into the rural sector.

Local recycler Southland disAbility Enterprises (SDE) has suspended its bale wrap recycling following a decision by Malaysia to close its borders to recycled plastic.

On a more positive note, commercial bale wrap recycler Agpac is continuing collections from farms.

SDE general manager Hamish McMurdo said while the company they used to process their plastic was still operating, the Malaysian government was not allowing new product into the country.

''Things are on hold for the moment as we've run out of storage space,'' he said.

''We're working hard with brokers to allow us to resume shipping, but we can only ask to store plastic on-farm in the meantime.''

Agpac recycling manager Chris Hartshorne said while his company had experienced some disruption, they would continue to collect and process plastic for recycling.

''There's no change to our service at present and it's business as usual.

''Some of our material is being recycled in New Zealand and we are slowly gaining access to alternative markets.''

He said at the moment transport was one of the biggest issues affecting the scheme in the South Island.

One of the advantages bale wrap had when it came to recycling was that it was high-grade plastic, he said.

''The main thing is [for] farmers to avoid contamination during the collection process and follow the recommended handling procedures.

''The more the bale wrap is kept clean, the easier it is to process.''

He said effective management of the wrap was going be particularly important given it looked like farmers were facing a booming summer.

''A number of key stakeholders such as the Ministry for the Environment and regional government have a lot invested in working with farmers to develop a sustainable system for managing waste bale wrap,'' he said.

''There is a need to continue to develop recycling capacity, especially in the South.''

He said there were some projects under way to address this.

Agpac had been collecting used baleage and silage wrap since 2005, and operated the largest silage wrap recycling scheme in New Zealand.

There were about 3000 Agpac recycling bins on farms through the country, with about 600 in Southland.

Mr McMurdo said that while the market for plastic recycling continued to be fickle, he was confident a satisfactory solution could be found.

Last year the company processed more than 1000 tonnes of bale wrap.

''It's important that farmers do the right thing for the environment, and all we can do is ask them to bear with us for the present,'' he said.

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