Firms reject drum recycling
AT least 20 agricultural chemical companies have shunned the nation’s DrumMuster container recycling scheme, forcing farmers to stockpile contaminated drums.
Companies including Saputo’s Murray Goulburn, Sabakem, Tasman Chemicals and Ecolab are refusing to pay the 4c-a-litre levy that covers the cost of running the recycling scheme.
The refusal to pay has forced AgSafe, which runs the DrumMuster program, to post blacklists at its 813 collection sites prohibiting containers from “non-participant companies”.
The blacklist states that given the decisions from these companies not to participate in the program, AgSafe expects no containers from them should be accepted at collection sites.
“[Tip] inspectors should advise the chemical users delivering any containers from these companies that the drums have to be rejected as no levy has been paid for inclusion in the program. Users should take up the rejection issue with the company or place of purchase,” it continues.
Victorian dairy farmer Alex Robertson said he tried to drop off Tasman, Ecolab and Rurakura containers at a tip but was told to take them home.
“What am I supposed to do with them?” Mr Robertson asked. “My QA [quality assurance] program doesn’t me to store them.”
Sabakem chemicals Victorian-NSW sales manager David Ford said the company would not pay the levy and it was up to the purchaser what they did with containers.
“Everyone wants someone else to be responsible,” Mr Ford said.
“Where does the buck stop? Does Kellogg’s become responsible for the cardboard [in its cereal boxes]?” allow
Mr Ford said there were concerns on how DrumMuster funds were being spent.
AgSafe’s annual report showed it received $3.4 million in DrumMuster levy revenue in 2017-2018, but spent $1.98 million on program cost recovery, field officers and training.
AgSafe general manager Dominique Doyle said additional costs were incurred across the organisation.
Ms Doyle said AgSafe had identified “a participation gap”, especially from companies in the dairy sanitiser industr and was working to get all companies on board.
Company withdrawals from may become a bigger issue next July as the levy rises from 4c/L to 6c/L.
Since its inception in 1999, the national DrumMuster scheme has collected more than 32 million containers, which equates to over 37,000 tonnes diverted from landfill.