Tasmanian farmers are closing the loop by buying plastic fence posts made from their own recycled polyethylene cattle feed bags.
On the Australian island state, Poly Marketing – which trades as Envorinex – is collecting used silage wrap and converting it into 100%-recycled fence posts.
Envorinex's recycling line shreds, washes, dries and extrudes the waste silage wrap into pellets ready for re-manufacturing into fence posts.
Envorinex chief executive Jenny Brown told Plastics News the firm provided free bins it manufactured from UV-stabilized waste PVC to farmers, so they could leave silage wrap for collection at their farm gates.
Free collection was cost effective in Tasmania because of the relatively small size of the state – only 226 miles long from north to south and 190 miles from east to west, she said. Some larger farms feed cattle year-round, so supply is continuous.
Since the collections began a year ago, Environex has amassed 200 tons of silage bags.
Tasmania's aquaculture industry was also participating in an Environex recycling programme; the island's many salmon and oyster farms used pre-fabricated PE ponds and Envorinex collected waste from the manufacturers, which it repelletised and sold back to them to manufacture new ponds.
It also collected used ponds and supporting stanchions from fish farmers, HDPE chemical drums from the aquaculture and mining industries, and polypropylene pipe from mine sites to recycle.
Envorinex launched a crowd-funding programme last year using social media to help pay for a A$2.5m (£1.3m) Australia-made machine that it planned to use to clean, recycle, repelletise and remanufacture post-consumer waste from Tasmania's beaches and wilderness regions.
Brown admitted the crowd-funding plan had not been a great success, and said Envorinex would self-fund the machine, which she hoped to install before year end. “It puts a bit of pressure on cash flow, but we'll just go a bit slower,” she said.
The machine can recycle an array of plastics, including nylon and PP rope and fishing nets.
Brown said Envorinex's engineers were conducting research and development on potential products that can be made from the marine waste.
“We're not picking up waste for waste's sake. We have an end product [in mind] before we collect,” she said.