16 Dec 2016

A solution to strewn silage wrap

From Country Life, 9:17 pm on 16 December 2016
Bales of Plastic

Bales of Plastic Photo: RNZ/Carol Stiles

Waikato rural contractor Helen Slattery is horrified when she sees green plastic silage wrap strewn around farms.

The company she runs with her husband bales silage but it also is one in a network of businesses around the country that collects the used wrap for recycling.

More and more farmers are paying for the collection service but Helen says she still sees the plastic wrap draped along fences, thrown into rubbish holes, abandoned in paddocks and piled up to be burned.

"We just cringe and cry because we know there's a solution out there that is easy to do and it's pretty economical."

The collection service was set up in New Zealand nine years ago and Helen's company has been part of it since its inception.

Helen Slattery

Helen Slatter Photo: RNZ/Carol Stiles

"We wanted to get away from having silage wrap hills and I want my kids to grow up in an environment that is green and natural and not green and full of plastic."

Farmers buy in large plastic bags and fill them with the used silage wrap. It can cost between $55 and $90 for the bag and its removal.

The used wrap is then baled and shipped overseas where it is washed, dried, flaked and extruded in to small pellets that later become letter boxes, dog kennels and plastic boards and posts , Helen says.

She says some farmers have been using the service since it was first offered but others are still coming on board.

"We were so thrilled in the first year of collecting that we got nine tonnes ....from the whole country. Last year there was over 1800 tonnes of silage wrap and plastic collected from on farm and brought back to the various balers in New Zealand."