CropLife Australia and Australian Seed Federation Partner to Repurpose Plastic Bags

CropLife Australia and Australian Seed Federation Partner to Repurpose Plastic Bags

November 22, 2021
Stewardship 

Faced with the legal onus of recovering and recycling seed bags, the Australian Seed Federation looked to CropLife Australia’s expertise in developing a homegrown empty pesticide container initiative.

The result is bagMUSTER, Australia’s first not-for-profit, whole-of-industry genuine collection and recycling program for plastic agricultural bags. It’s set to commence collection in 2022.

“The advantage of partnering with CropLife Australia on the bagMUSTER initiative is that we can harness nearly 30 years of CropLife’s experience running the drumMUSTER and ChemClearTM stewardship programs for crop protection products,” says Osman Mewett, CEO of the Australian Seed Federation. “bagMUSTER has been conceived as a hybrid of these two programs, leveraging the most suitable components from each to deliver an industry-led and fit-for-purpose stewardship program.”

“Plastic packaging plays an essential role in Australia’s agricultural industry by protecting seed, pesticide and other ag products for transport, use, and storage,” says CropLife Australia CEO Matthew Cossey. “What is also essential is that this packaging is collected and processed in a genuine and environmentally sustainable way onshore, here in Australia.”

Adds Mewett: “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.”

Now, instead of being trashed, the bags will find a useful new life while supporting recycling capability and technology development in Australia.

“Depending on the technology available, recovered bags may be pelletized and turned into garden furniture or park benches,” Mewett says. “Through a gasification process, they can also be used as an energy source to power recycling facilities.”

Farmer engagement will be critical to the program’s ongoing success, Mewett says. To encourage their continued buy-in after the pilot phase, “bagMUSTER will be delivered through an industry-funded model. This will mean no farmer levy and minimize costs on the agricultural sector.”

In that way, the initiative promises to be a win for farmers while underscoring the agricultural industry’s ongoing commitment to stewardship.

“Through bagMUSTER we are continuously adapting and promoting ethical, sustainable, and responsible practices from first use to the final recovery and recycling of associated waste, allowing us to better assist farmers and play our part in developing the circular economy and protecting the environment,” Mewett says.

Cossey agrees. “bagMUSTER further shows that the members of both CropLife and the Australian Seed Federation are leaders when it comes to a genuine whole-of-life-cycle approach to industry stewardship.”