Did you know the polypropylene of horse feedbags can be recycled into new products? War on Waste horse feedbags

War on Waste: Horse Feedbags

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War on waste horse feedbags.

Material:

Feedbags are (generally) made from woven polypropylene.

Abbreviated as PP, it is a recyclable thermoplastic polymer widely used in many different products. PP is rugged and resistant to different chemical solvents, acids, and bases.

Reusable:

Yes! Used, empty feedbags can be turned into a number of practical items. Our favourite ideas are making them into reusable shopping bags and growing potatoes! But search online for some awesome inspiration.

Recyclable:

Yes! polypropylene is fully recyclable. The bags often display a number 5 and the initials PP in the recycle symbol.

Recyclable in Australia?

Yes, although collection systems are a major challenge, particularly for large volumes of bags, and it is likely that existing recycling plants would not cope with the number of bags consumed by the entire horse industry and/or livestock producers.

Collection system?

Yes! Woven polypropylene is one of the materials recovered through the RedCycle bins (at Coles and Woolworths supermarkets and other retailers) – but in order to be accepted and processed, the bags must be cut into pieces no bigger than A3 (the size of a Horses and People magazine spread).

Cutting to size is important as bigger pieces can jam the recycling machinery causing expensive damage.

If you deal with large volumes of feedbags the collection options become quite limited, but you can ask your local council and/or check the Business Recycling website –  or Recycling Near You –  to find alternative removal solutions.

Creating jobs in Australia?

Yes! Through RedCycle, the product stewardship scheme that has partnered with some of Australia’s leading food brands and major stores and supermarkets to provide collection points throughout Australia.

RedCycle is a working example of plastic product stewardship, and at the time of writing, it seems to be working successfully in Australia. It’s a circular economy in action.

RedCycle has teamed up with a large number of well-known food brands to establish collection points for soft ‘scrunchable’ plastics at supermarkets throughout Australia. Basically if you can scrunch the plastic into a ball, you can redcycle it, although it pays to have a look on their website. Everyone pays a voluntary levy to cover the responsible collection and recycling of packaging.

And one of those materials they can recover is the quality woven polypropylene film that is used to package most horse feeds. The materials they recover are delivered to Australian manufacturing plants for recycling into a variety of secondary products (but they can’t be turned into their former selves).

When you are done, buy their recycled form!

The materials recovered through RedCycle are processed and recycled by a small number of Australian manufacturing plants, such as:

Replas that produces a wide range of timber-alternative products – like fence posts, garden furniture and decking boards.

Downer (also known as Close the Loop) use the soft plastic as a component of Reconophalt, an alternative to asphalt that is made almost entirely from recycled materials, including soft plastics.

Another Australian manufacturer that takes RedCycled products is Plastic Forests who use it to make a variety of useful products like the Green Monster garden edging – check it out! – and Mini Wheel Stops.

And remember to take the time to cut your bags into A3 size pieces, otherwise the material will be rejected at some stage in the process and end up in landfill. Just what you were trying to avoid…

Remember: “If it can’t be reduced, reused, repaired, rebuilt, refurbished, refinished, resold, recycled or composted, then it should be restricted, redesigned or removed from production” – Pete Seeger.

Read more about the circular economy and keeping waste out of landfill here.


This article was published in the January-February 2020 Horses and People Magazine.

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