5 Aug 2012

11,600kg of unwanted chemicals recovered

11:45 am on 5 August 2012

The Agrecovery Foundation says more than 11,600kg of unwanted or expired chemicals has been collected from orchards and farms in the past year.

Marketing manager Duncan Scotland says that's 23% more than in the previous year.

He says it is a fantastic result because otherwise the chemicals would still be sitting in people's sheds or being disposed of inappropriately.

The foundation, a not-for-profit charitable trust, organises the safe disposal of agrichemicals and the collection and recycling of waste plastic.

Mr Scotland says it has 57 contributing brand owners which subsidise the programme for their products and make it free for farmers and growers.

He says a lot of chemicals are collected from those brand owners.

Mr Scotland says many unknown chemicals that have been sitting in sheds are collected when, for example, a property changes hands or there is a bereavement and people realise there's some type of chemical on the property but they have no idea what it is.

He says a user-pays fee is associated with that type of collection.

Mr Scotland says the Agrecovery team has seen chemicals stored in everything from old chest freezers to buckets and open drums.

He says the importance of safe disposal was highlighted in Mid Canterbury recently, when livestock died after being exposed to old chemicals stored in a farm shed.

Container plastic volume doubled

In the year ending June, 157 tonnes of container plastics was collected and sent for recycling both in New Zealand and overseas.

Mr Scotland says there's also been a record collection of silage wrap and total growth of 30% over the previous year, which in turn was 49% higher than in 2009-10.

He says organisations that export produce are also becoming more aware of the need to recycle plastic.

"With container plastic...we have doubled the volume over the past two years - which is a fantastic result. That's possibly just under 30% of the plastic available.

"Silage plastic more than doubled just in the past 12 months alone - up to about 241,000kg - but that's a drop in the ocean compared to the total amount of plastic volume out there."

Recycled plastic containers are being made into covers for underground cables at factories in Auckland and Christchurch, Mr Scotland says.

Plastic used to wrap silage is being exported to be made into waterproof membranes for the construction industry.