On the recycling of bailing twine (from hay bails) and silage wrap.

Introduction

The use of bailing twine and silage wrap is extensive in farming, particularly in the dairy and beef sectors. Currently, in Tasmania, neither of these are easily recycled by farmers, as councils do not collect them to recycle. (At least one council in both Victoria and New South Wales recycle bailing twine and silage wrap.)

The twine can be reused in a variety of situations, however, the amount produced is far more then can be re-used by the farmer. Farmers then have a few different options regarding the rest, none of which are highly desirable. These include: discarding the twine, by taking it to refuge disposal points where it is then dumped by the council in landfill; and burying the twine on the farmer's own land, in effect having their own dump.

Silage wrap not having the re-use potential, can only be dumped (either in council landfills or the farmer's own).

Because of this situation, I have investigated whether the wrap and twine are actually easily recyclable or not. In this document I have presented this information, and possibilities on how the collection for recycling could take place.

Recycling

I have been unable to discover the chemical composition of these two sorts of plastics, though this has not been a problem. I have contacted a number of companies that recycle around North-West Tasmania. Of these, only one has stated that they can recycle either bailing twine or silage wrap. This company is Veolia (formally Collex).

Silage wrap

The recycling of silage wrap is easy, it is merely bailed (perhaps in wool bail bags), collected by Veolia, re-bailed (and compressed) and then sent to the recycling plant. However, there must not be any impurities in the wrap (it must be clean), as this can weaken the new product, and potentially prevent the wrap from being accepted to be recycled.

Bailing twine

The collection of bailing twine is similar to that of silage wrap, it is bundled, collected, and then re-bailed. However, there is a major difference, it is not recycled as an individual plastic, but rather as 'mixed plastic' (with other plastic types). As with silage wrap, the twine should be clean.

More information

In both cases Veolia would only collect a large amount at a time.

For more information, I would suggest contacting Colin Hodge at Veolia on **** ****.

Proposals

With this knowledge there are a few different options available. The two that I see as most viable are: contacting councils informing them of the possibilities regarding recycling and persuading them to accept twine and wrap collection for recycling; and arranging a network of interested farmers who would then rotate collection points amongst themselves.

Councils

There are benefits and potential problems by going through the councils for recycling.

The benefits are:

  1. The councils already have collection points, in a variety of areas, for both general rubbish, and for recycling;
  2. Farmers already take rubbish (including twine and wrap) to refuge collection points, thus there is not required a major change in behaviour.

Potential problems include:

  1. The councils might already have contracts with other recycling companies, thus preventing Veolia from entering into an agreement with the particular councils;
  2. Councils workers might need to be educated as to the conditions for accepting the twine and wrap.

Farmers network

As with the arranging for the councils to collect the twine and wrap, there are problems and benefits to a recycling network.

The benefits include:

  1. Bypass the potential problems of having to deal with councils;
  2. Encourages networks between farmers;

Potential problems include

  1. Requires a network to be established and farmers willing to have collection points on their land;
  2. Requires a potentially large change in behaviour, wrap and twine has to be taken to a different point to other farm waste.

Conclusion

Both bailing twine and silage wrap are recyclable, though I know of no council in Tasmania that currently collects them to be recycled. As such, it would be beneficial to the environment if the councils were contacted and persuaded to collect the twine and wrap to be recycled.

After word

As part of my investigations I contacted Maree Bakker at the Environment Department (**** ****, Mondays and Tuesdays). She told me that she had also been investigating silage wrap recycling and had been contact by a number of farmers in the North-West who were interested in a recycling scheme.

Another option that was put forward was to arrange with the state government a scheme similar to the Drum Muster scheme for chemical drums. I personally am not convinced as to the viability of this possibility, but it should be considered.

This piece was originially written for the North West Enviroment Centre in late 2007.

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