A PILOT program to recycle bags used for agricultural seed is to be rolled out in the first quarter of next year.
Known as bagMUSTER, it has been developed by CropLife Australia, the peak national industry organisation for the plant-science sector, in partnership with the Australian Seed Federation.
CropLife Australia CEO Matthew Cossey said bagMUSTER was being developed as a hybrid program, which has taken components from Agsafe’s long-running drumMUSTER and ChemClear programs.
“Plastic packaging plays an essential role in Australia’s agricultural industry by protecting seed, pesticide and other ag products for transport, use and storage,” Mr Cossey said.
“What is also essential is that this packaging is collected and processed in a genuine and environmentally sustainable way onshore, here in Australia.”
Australian Seed Federation CEO Osman Mewett said bags collected through bagMUSTER will be processed in Australia to further support recycling capability and technology development in Australia.
“bagMUSTER is going to support our industry to meet its obligations in the Australian Packaging Covenant and the broader agricultural sector in its efforts to address the vitally important Recycling and Waste Reduction Act,” Mr Mewett said.
Under the pilot, growers will be able to deliver used low-density polyethylene (LDPE) bags including bulka bags to sites for collection.
The location of these sites will be advised in or before January.
Once the program moves from the pilot to the commercial phase, it will be delivered as an industry fee-for-service model and not via a levy on farmers.
“Partnerships with governments will be crucial to ensure a viable and sustainable model is delivered for the benefit of Australia’s farmers when the pilot stage begins in 2022,” Mr Mewett said.
“Importantly, following the pilot phase, bagMUSTER will be delivered through an industry-funded model: those who import, manufacture and supply bags or import pre-packaged products will contribute on a fee-for-service basis.
“This will mean no farmer levy and minimise costs on the agricultural sector.”
Because seed and other agricultural inputs which come in bags are often treated with chemicals or contain chemicals, they are mostly either burnt on farm or put into landfill because of a lack of other options.
Find out more at bagmuster.org.au