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Doing It Right: drumMUSTER’s call to farmers

Published: 04-03-2014

drumMUSTER has launched a new campaign calling on farmers across WA to do the right thing for their community and business and bring in their drums for recycling.

The national stewardship program launched the campaign across the state in an effort to help improve the amount of drums being recycled, while also changing the attitudes of farmers.

The campaign is aimed at farmers who are not properly disposing their chemical containers in an environmentally friendly way.

drumMUSTER Southern Western Australian Consultant Graeme Passmore said the campaign will coincide with the end of spraying season when farmers will be left with empty drums that are available for recycling.

Graeme said he hopes this year’s campaign will improve the behaviour of farmers and chemical users.

“The program has seen a decline in the number of drums being returned in the state despite an increase nationally in the last few years,” he said.

“The state’s growers can do a lot better. We’ve been working with government agencies on how to change the behaviour of farmers who continue to do the wrong thing by burning or burying their drums.

“Today, we still find that farmers continue with these bad habits that are detrimental to not only their business, but their environment too.”

drumMUSTER saw more than 345,000 drums collected and 2000 deliveries by users during its peak in 2008-09. Since then, the program has seen a continued decline of participation in WA with 244,237 drums collected and 1745 deliveries in 2012-13.

Graeme said despite changes to the way chemicals are packaged there are still many drums that are stacked in sheds, burnt or buried.

Late last year, the Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC) put out a warning to farmers after reporting a number of black smoke fires, which are generally associated with burning plastic or metal material.

According to the DEC, farmers who burn chemicals and their containers could face fines of up to $1 million and five years in jail for serious offences.

“We understand many farming operations are switching or have switched to containers that hold larger amounts of chemicals, such as IBC’s which cannot be recycled through the program,” Graeme said.

“But we know there are still a lot of farmers who purchase in smaller quantities that come in 1-20L drums that can be recycled. These drums are taken by drumMUSTER and turned into new things again.”

He said drumMUSTER is also becoming a new feature of many quality assurance programs which can be a major incentive for farmers to use the program.

“More and more farmers now have to satisfy their QA auditors. This is just another way they can get their waste off their land in a sustainable way,” he said.

“You’re not only meeting the requirements of QA programs, but you’re also preventing waste from ending up in the wrong place.”

Under the drumMUSTER program, users are required to make sure containers are empty, rinsed clean and dried before returning them to one of the 112 drumMUSTER sites around WA.

Once collected, the containers are shredded and transformed into practical items such as plastic cable covers, wheelie bins and cement reinforcing bar chairs.

drumMUSTER has collected more than 23 million drums since 1999. That’s more than 28,000 tonnes of material recycled into new products.

For more information on the drumMUSTER program, visit the website

Visit our News page for photos.


1. Dumped drums in a trench

2. Abandoned drums on farm