When Coolamon farmer Malcolm McKenzie delivered drumMUSTER’s 20 millionth drum he had no idea what it meant for the thousands of people involved with the program in the past 13 years.
For children’s charity Country Hope in Wagga, it meant Malcolm’s drums would go towards supporting families with children suffering from cancer or other life threatening diseases in the Riverina region.
In the past three years the charity has overseen the collection of empty and clean agvet chemical containers at six rural merchandise stores, with the charity collecting 25 cents for each drum inspected.
But for Malcolm, who has been using drumMUSTER for as long he can remember, it was no trouble at all.
“Once you get into a routine, it’s easy done. If you’re dropping off drums all the time, it’s just a part of it, and it works so easy,” he said.
“We used to have to cart them out to the Wagga tip, which was an absolute nightmare because it was on the other side of town.”
Country Hope Director Bob Linnett said the more drums collected the more funds the charity has available to run programs for sick kids.
“The resellers inspect all the drums and sign them off and then they post the cover sheets to our office in Blake Street or I go ‘round to see how many they’ve got,” Bob said.
“I’m all over town, I don’t like sitting at home but if I can make a dollar for our kids I will.”
The 20 millionth container was delivered to the Riverina Co-Op in early September, one of the 762 drumMUSTER sites in Australia.
While most compounds are managed by local councils at waste management sites and transfer stations, others are taken on by community groups, charities or other organisations like rural firefighters.
During drumMUSTER’s short history it has prevented 25,000 tonnes of waste going into landfill.
drumMUSTER National Program Manager Allan McGann said the 20 millionth drum won’t be spared and will be baled, mulched and made into new things like plastic garden stakes, cable covers or new wheelie bins, just like the rest.
He said empty containers like these may have been sitting of farms, floating in creeks and clogging up landfill before drumMUSTER was set up.
“The great thing about drumMUSTER is it has changed the habits of people who use agvet chemicals,” he said.
“drumMUSTER has also changed the way agvet chemical container waste is disposed. Instead of being burned or buried they are recycled into something new.”
Allan said because the program isn’t restricted by government regulation the program can fit the different needs of councils, community groups and charities.
“No one drumMUSTER site is the same,” he said. “They vary from state to state, council to council, town to town.”
“This is the reason why the program has survived for as long as it has.”
Without the help of these groups and councils, along with thousands of hours spent cleaning, collecting and processing containers, the program wouldn’t be where it is today.
20 million drums: The Facts
– More than 25,000 tonnes have been diverted from landfill thanks to the efforts of all who support drumMUSTER.
– That’s 465,000 cubic metres of uncompacted waste, enough to fill more than 120 Olympic swimming pools.
– That’s 276 road trains packed to the brim. That’s almost 10km of road train.
– If the waste was cotton it would represent more than 110,000 bales.
– Laid end-to-end it’s enough containers to go from Brisbane down to Sydney, past Melbourne, across to Adelaide, swinging past Perth, up to Broome and stopping in Kununurra. That’s more than 8,200km.
– Recycling one 20 litre plastic drum would save enough energy to power a 60-watt light bulb for 18 hours.