Aussie farmers close the loop

By Kate Tilley, Plasticsnews.com

George Town, Australia — Some Australian farmers are closing the loop by buying plastic lumber fence posts made from their own recycled polyethylene cattle feed bags.

On Australia’s island state of Tasmania, George Town-based Poly Marketing Pty. Ltd., which trades as Envorinex, is collecting used silage wrap and converting it into 100 percent recycled fence posts.

Silage is hay and other cattle feed harvested during summer, rolled into large bales and sealed in PE wrap to store until winter. During winter, the wrap is removed and the silage fed to cattle.

Envorinex’s recycling line shreds, washes, dries and extrudes the waste silage wrap into pellets ready for re-manufacturing into fence posts. CEO Jenny Brown told Plastics News Envorinex provides free bins it manufactures from UV-stabilized waste PVC to farmers, so they can leave silage wrap for collection at their farm gates. She said free collection was cost effective in Tasmania because the state is relatively small — only 226 miles long from north to south and 190 miles from east to west. Some larger farms feed cattle year-round, so supply is continuous.

Since the collection began a year ago, Environex has collected 200 tons of silage bags.

Tasmania’s aquaculture industry also is participating in an Environex recycling program. The island’s many salmon and oyster farms use pre-fabricated PE ponds and Envorinex collects waste from the manufacturers, which it repelletizes and sells back to them to manufacture new ponds.

It also collects 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.

Brown said Envorinex launched a crowd-funding program last year using social media to help pay for a A$2.5 million Australia-made machine it will use to clean, recycle, repelletize and remanufacture post-consumer waste from Tasmania’s beaches and wilderness regions. Brown admitted the crowd-funding plan was not a great success, but said Envorinex will self-fund the machine, which she hopes 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 are 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.

Poly Marketing launched in July 2009 after Brown and two other shareholders bought the machinery at the George Town factory previously operated by SVP Industries Pty. Ltd., a company she had worked with as its Brisbane-based sales and marketing manager. The company, which has six employees, initially extruded and injection molded products from virgin resin before the shift to using waste plastics.

About 95 percent of its products are exported outside Tasmania.

Source: Plastic News, May 5, 2016 http://www.plasticsnews.com/article/20160505/NEWS/160509891/aussie-farmers-close-the-loop