Six hundred south-west Victorian dairy farmers have united on a survival quest and more are expected to join the fold.
Financial support for the six-month research and advocacy project has been made possible through a special grant via the Sustainability Covenant partnership between the Plastics and Chemicals Industries Association (PACIA) and EPA Victoria.
The new program – in conjunction with the Plasback system – coordinates with suppliers, retailers, councils and industry groups to provide farmers with a sustainable disposal solution for farm plastic waste, instead of the current disposal methods of burning or burying the plastic.
Nationally it is estimated over 100,000 tonnes of plastic is disposed of on-farm every year. Less than 5% is thought to be recycled and given a new life.
Three Plasback Advocates will be recruited to promote the new system to farmers, industry groups, local government and NGOs – such as Landcare groups.
These advocates will also collect sample data on the scale and current methods of disposal of farm plastic waste in Victoria.
Plasback was launched in Victoria last year as a product stewardship program, initiated by Tapex – Australia’s leading supplier of crop protection plastics to the agricultural sector.
Farmers bag unwanted plastics into Plasback liners and then drop them at council transfer stations. Each Plasback liner is coloured for a specific type of plastic. Currently polyethylene films such as silage wrap and silage pit covers are collected.
Ed George, Tapex’s environmental manager, says polypropylene plastics collection, such as baling twines, will be the next collection stream to be added in 2011.
“We can help farmers change existing unsustainable disposal practises by giving them a cost effective, viable alternative in recycling their plastic for a second useful life,” George says.
“Plasback is working with 27 regional councils in Victoria. We hope the new advocacy project will encourage more farmers to clean up their rural environment.”
George says the Plasback system is low cost, easy and designed to be scalable, so other plastics streams can be added and the system expanded across all Victorian regional council areas.
Farmers and contractors can find out how to dispose of waste farm plastics at www.plasback.com.au