OPINION: Finding viable and affordable options to recycle grain silo bags

As we come to welcome the end of a big but late harvest in South Australia, you’ll see the distinct long white grain storage bags sitting on farms holding product. It’s a temporary solution to a short-term problem to store grain in plastic.

For years conversations over fences or on twitter have turned to used grain storage bags and finding viable and affordable options to reuse, repurpose or recycle used plastics.

Australia consumes more than 3 million tonnes of plastic each year with an estimated 90,000 tonnes of plastics consumed in Australian agriculture. Only about seven per cent is currently being recycled.

So what do South Australian grain producers do with used grain storage bags currently?

Most would either stockpile them or send them to landfill.

In a bid to find alternative solutions to disposal of used grain storage bags, Grain Producers SA has received a grant from the State Government’s Green Industries SA.

We recognise the lack of affordable and viable recycling options for this method of grain storage has been an ongoing issue for many years, and it is time to look at opportunities to change this.

We have appointed an experienced consultant in this field to understand the scale of grain storage bag waste on grain farms in South Australia, what recycling avenues currently exist, and what investment strategies can be developed to provide industry participation and circular solutions for used grain storage bags.

With such a strong focus on recycling and reuse of plastics by the State and Federal Governments, it is important that we do everything we can to explore opportunities to reduce agricultural waste.

Whether the Feasibility Study we are undertaking on grain storage bags is able to provide the answers, we will have to wait and see.

But grain producers have always been innovators, and this is just another challenge industry can solve and hopefully turn used grain storage bags into treasure!