Agrichemicals and farm plastics to be ‘priority products’

Priority products

In July 2020, the Associate Minister for the Environment, Eugenie Sage announced that farm plastics and agrichemicals will become priority products under the Waste Minimisation Act – requiring them to be part of a product stewardship scheme.

This followed a following public consultation, released in August 2019.

What is product stewardship?

Product stewardship is a ‘cradle to grave’ approach to minimising the environmental impacts of products and their packaging. 

It involves all the people in the supply chain – from manufacture through to final use – to ensure sustainable disposal of products at the end of their useful life.

Recycling projects

Farm plastics

The farm plastics project investigates sustainable options for recycling farm plastics such as silage wrap, the bags used for feed, seed and fertiliser, as well as agricultural twine and netting.



Agrichemicals

We are expanding our agrichemical recycling and recovery service to introduce veterinary medicines and household pest and weed control products.



What does priority product status mean for farm plastics and agrichemicals?

The industry (including manufacturers, importers, retailers and users) needs to ‘co-design’ product stewardship schemes that meet certain requirements. This process is defined in the Proposed priority products and priority product scheme guidelines public consultation document. It includes identifying ways to improve access to recycling services for farmers and growers, and optimising packaging and product design for re-use or recyclability. It also involves identifying what regulation is required to enforce participation.

Existing recycling programmes continue to operate

Farmers and growers should continue to use existing programmes, such as Plasback and Agrecovery, during the co-design process.

How will things change in the future?

Farmers and growers can expect a more convenient, cheaper and resilient system for collecting and recycling agrichemical containers and farm plastics.

This could include more drop-off points, more events, and more collection services. These services will be provided free of charge, but the costs for providing these services will be incorporated into the price of the product.

Will it be compulsory for farmers and growers to participate?

No, but it will be easier to participate. It’s also important to note that most regions have bylaws that prohibit burning and burying on-farm, due to the environmental harm caused by these practices.

Many exporting companies also require their suppliers (including farmers and growers) to provide evidence of recycling activities. This enables New Zealand to continue to access premium offshore markets that value sustainable farming practices.

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