When Konnongorring farmer Nathan Davey delivered drumMUSTER’s 25 millionth drum on 20 March 2015 to the Goomalling collection site, he had no idea what it signified for the thousands of people involved with the program over the past 16 years.
For students at Goomalling Primary School and Sacred Heart Catholic School, it meant Nathan’s drums would contribute valuable funds towards school camps, equipment and other essential needs.
“I started using drumMUSTER because the property I bought was littered with drums from the previous owner,” said Mr Davey. “I now seek out drumMUSTER eligible containers because I know the program aligns itself with high quality chemicals.”
For Doug Sewell, President of Goomalling Shire Council and long-time drumMUSTER supporter and inspector, the milestone container indicated a job well done.
“Not only did Nathan deliver the 25 millionth drum, but he was also the first person to deliver his agvet containers to the Goomalling collection site when it first opened in April 2002,” said Mr Sewell.
“Over 80,000 empty containers have been collected by the council since then, with 80% of chemical users in the Goomalling district participating in the program. When we first started, farmers would turn up with dirty containers in a jumble. Now they know to properly rinse and sort them before delivery. This makes my job so much easier.”
drumMUSTER National Program Manager Allan McGann said the program has come a long way since its first collection in early 1999.
“The program has gone from strength to strength. We started with yearly collections of around one million containers, but are now edging towards two million containers per annum,” he said.
“This goes to show the growing support drumMUSTER has garnered. We’ve established ourselves as a valuable program for farmers and growers. We’re here to stay.”
25 million containers represents over 30,000 tonnes of materials which have avoided landfill. Once collected, the containers are shredded or granulated and transformed into new products like plastic cable covers, wheelie bins, road signs and bollards.
“The great thing about drumMUSTER is that it’s changed the habits of people who use agvet chemicals. With a good footprint of collection points and greater access, it is now much easier for chemical users to recycle their containers,” said Mr McGann.
The program’s regional consultant for Western Australia, Bevan Henderson, agreed.
“There have been various changes to the size of chemical containers over the years, and consequently, farmers have had to change the way they operate to accommodate this. Almost all of the farmers who participate in the program now are repeat customers because they find drumMUSTER a vital tool and good farm stewardship.”
While most compounds are managed by local councils at waste management sites and transfer stations, others are operated by community groups and charities.
Mr McGann said, “drumMUSTER continues to support various community groups across Australia as they bring about environmental change in rural regions. We have seen a noteworthy increase in participation over the past few years with 119 community groups now involved in the program. They have collected an impressive 3.5 million drums and raised $880,000 between them.”
In the Goomalling Shire alone, seven community groups have benefited from the program. These range from local schools to the Lyons Club, Country Women’s Association, St John Ambulance Service, Senior Citizens group and Sports Council, who have shared $16,000 between them.
The new milestone comes less than two years after drumMUSTER received the 20 millionth drum in NSW, signifying the incredible growth the program has experienced.
The record was celebrated with an event on 25 March 2015 in Guildford, Western Australia, to thank all the people and communities involved in the program’s success.
“drumMUSTER is leading the way in product stewardship. We thank agvet chemical manufacturers, local government and program users for their commitment to sharing in the responsibility for a sustainable future in Australian agriculture,” said Mr McGann.
Chairman of AgStewardship Australia Lauchlan McIntosh said, “drumMUSTER requires the time and effort of many people to operate. From participating manufacturers to dedicated farmers and inspectors, the program has grown to become a good model story around the country.”
On the back of 25 million drums, Western Australia is also celebrating a milestone of its own with the four millionth drum delivered to the Harvey collection site by Mia and Graeme Rose on 24 March 2015.
“We like to keep our farm clean and tidy,” said Ms Rose. “Delivering our drums is not only good for the environment, but it ensures that we meet our QA requirements.”
Mr Henderson said, “Western Australian chemical users who utilise drumMUSTER are very good at what they do. Cleanliness standards are high and there is a real sense of motivation behind the stewardship.”
drumMUSTER operates 796 collection sites across Australia. To find your nearest site, simply enter your postcode and state under ‘Collection locations’ on the drumMUSTER website. A map will appear with the closest site in your area marked.
For further information on the program, call 1800 008 707.
Photo caption: Nathan Davey, Kevin Ryan, Doug Sewell and Bevan Henderson at the Goomalling collection site.
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