Reforming and recycling agricultural wrap

Team

  • Government: MidCoast Council; Local Land Services of the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment
  • Industry Partner: Farmers; Business Chamber; Community Renewable Energy; Oyster Farmers
  • Research Organisation: UNSW SMaRT Centre
  • Facilitator: NSW Circular

Background

MidCoast Council covers Gloucester, Manning and Great Lakes, with many areas of dairy, beef and oyster farming. Support network NSW Women in Dairy approached council for help to resolve the issue of waste silage wrap.

Silage, or agricultural wrap, is a single use plastic to store, transport and distribute feed. Prior to China’s policy to reject unsorted waste some silage was sent to China for recycling. The MidCoast area generates about at 108 tonnes of waste silage a year. Gate fees to landfill this waste are $180/tonne, where it is accepted. Recycling options for plastic wrap are emerging, but transport costs or expectations that the wrap is clean and dry are major barriers.

The solution

MidCoast Council engaged Susan McHattie to run a collaborative design process to investigate opportunities to divert waste silage wrap from landfill through a local implementation of UNSW SMaRT Centre MicrofactorieTM technology to produce products of value to local markets. This project is an initiative under the council’s Waste Management Strategy and has come about with the facilitation and support of NSW Circular including connecting the stakeholders.

In Stage 1 of the project, council hosted a workshop of local farmers, businesses, community and social enterprise representatives, along with staff from council the UNSW SMaRT Centre. The workshop explored the current use of the material, its environmental impact as waste, the SMaRT Centre technical options for recovery and reuse, and possible local demand for products made from recovered resources.

The outcome of the workshop was a strong commitment from the community and council to proceed to the next stage. The next stage will refine technical options, and the business and operating models for implementation. This will be done through a local innovation network, to act as a catalyst for other circular activity.

Note: the project is temporarily on hold due to COVID-19.

Why is this Circular?

The Project aims to divert the used wrap from its current destination of landfill, keeping this material in use as recycled silage or for use in other applications. Introducing value added products made from waste in this way, the project is able to demonstrate that waste as a resource can be valued, upcycled, reformed and reintroduced into a new supply chain, viable for commercial purposes.

Benefits & Outcomes

This pilot project is providing proof of concept for high quality silage for re-use in agriculture and for other applications.

The outcome of the pilot project is to develop a proof of concept that shows this waste can be recycled, upcycled and reformed for other uses, and that councils can facilitate the uptake of technical recovery solutions in their communities.

By demonstrating that these outputs have commercial and industry interest, this project can show that waste to product transformations are scalable, replicable and potentially commercially viable.

The collaboration will also consider where and how agricultural plastic waste materials can be recovered for large-scale production and contribute to economic, social and ecological benefits to NSW.

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