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Banana growers urged to clean up their farms

Published: 12-11-2014

Empty agvet chemical containers can be a health hazard to both users and the environment, but a common dilemma is safely disposing of them.

The Australian Banana Growers’ Council is encouraging farmers to take advantage of the drumMUSTER program to recycle their drums. With summer and cyclone season fast approaching, now is the perfect time to act.

An industry stewardship program set up in 1999, drumMUSTER is a fantastic disposal outlet for users across the nation. Once collected, the containers are shredded and transformed into practical items such as plastic cable covers, wheelie bins, road signs and bollards.

Banana growing regions across the country have numerous collection sites available to them and Colin Hoey, drumMUSTER Regional Consultant, is available to assist chemical users with any enquiries they may have about the program.

Whether you have one drum or 100 drums, take them to a collection site and join the growing band of farmers who are being proactive with farm waste recycling. A receipt is issued on delivery and is suitable as proof in all BMP programs.

“It’s good practice to dispose of drums on a regular basis, and I recommend visiting a collection site at least once a year,” said Mr Hoey.

Stoters Hill Transfer Station, operated by Cassowary Coast Regional Council is one of a number of ongoing collection sites available to banana growers in far north Queensland. The site has collected 51,577 containers since it opened in June 2011. In northern NSW, Coffs Harbour Waste Management Facility has collected 19,686 containers from growers since 2008.

Australian Banana Growers’ Council Chairman Doug Phillips believes drumMUSTER provides growers with a quick, easy, environmentally friendly way to dispose of used chemical containers.

“The banana industry, like other horticulture and agriculture industries, has been working hard to further improve farm practices,” said Mr Phillips.

“Banana growers helped develop our own Best Management Practices guidelines so we could make sure we set high standards for everything we do on-farm, including the disposal of used chemical containers. Our BMP guidelines advise triple rinsing the insides of used containers and disposing of them using drumMUSTER,” he said.

Mr Hoey encourages growers to let their neighbours know about the program as everyone should be involved.

drumMUSTER is heading towards recycling 25 million drums and banana growers are urged to participate in reaching the milestone.”

The drumMUSTER and ChemClear programs are ideally set up to meet chemical user requirements for quality assurance (QA) programs. ChemClear is a jointly funded program which safely disposes of unwanted and out-of-date farm chemicals.

But drumMUSTER and ChemClear are more than just a tick in the box for QA. They represent a firm commitment from local businesses to doing the right thing for the safety and reputation of their customers, their community and their staff.

drumMUSTER National Program Manager Allan McGann said chemical users should take advantage of both programs to satisfy their QA auditors.

“Using programs like drumMUSTER and ChemClear not only shows you’re meeting the requirements of QA programs, but you’re also preventing waste from ending up in the wrong place,” he said.

Mr Phillips said, “When banana growers use drumMUSTER they can be sure they’re following best practice for disposing of used chemical containers.”

For further information on the drumMUSTER or ChemClear programs, call (02) 6230 4799.