Towards circular material futures: Development of innovative solutions to recycle and re-purpose existing pre-farm gate waste

  • 76 pages

  • Published: 28 Apr 2023

  • Author(s): Lee Clemon, Tim Schork, Nick Bennett, Stefan Lie, Matthias Guertler, Geoff Isaac, Ella Williams

  • ISBN: 978-1-76053-315-1

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In March 2021, AgriFutures Australia embarked on an exciting new initiative, the Pre-Farm Gate Waste Program, to align the agriculture, fisheries and forestry sector with Australia’s National Waste Policy. The topic of waste is deservedly getting serious attention and Australia’s rural industries have an opportunity to not only reduce their waste footprint but also be
part of the solution.

Reducing waste has long been a priority for the sector. AgriFutures Australia’s research investment through this initiative is designed to complement the work of the other Rural Research and Development Corporations (RDCs), government, industry bodies and producers. The program was designed to look outside current national initiatives to undertake actions to minimise (1) hard and soft plastics, for example those used in field production, glasshouses and workshops, and to store produce (e.g. silage); (2) animal and plant organic matter, such as manure from farms and intensive animal systems, harvest waste, pruning and other organic matter; (3) other inputs, including fertiliser and pesticides.

This research sought to explore emerging and existing options for on-farm plastic waste, with a focus on circular economy principles. Consideration was given to international research and how this could be applied in the Australian context. The report provides guidance on improvement potential throughout the lifecycle of on-farm plastic waste, including establishing priority listings to align waste mitigation and recycling efforts with geographical concentration and existing technologies that could be transitioned to business models for handling existing plastic waste streams.