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Address at the launch of the National Container Management Program - drumMUSTER, Mural Hall, Parliament House, Canberra



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Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry - Australia

Senator The Hon Judith Troeth Parliamentary Secretary for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Address at the launch of the National Container Management

Program - drumMUSTER,

Mural Hall, Parliament House, Canberra, 1 December 1998

Introduction

Ladies and gentlemen,

I am delighted to be here today to launch drumMUSTER, the National Container Management Program.

As Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, one of my most important responsibilities concerns the appropriate use in this country of agricultural and veterinary chemicals.

The drumMUSTER Program

drumMUSTER is a collection scheme for non-returnable containers that contained crop protection or animal health chemicals.

It has been developed jointly by the National Farmers' Federation, Avcare, the Veterinary Manufacturers and Distributors Association and the Australian Local Government Association.

Funding for this initiative will come from a levy on crop protection and animal health products sold in non-returnable, rigid, steel and plastic chemical containers. The levy will operate from the first of February 1999 and farmers will pay 4 cents per litre or kilogram for a container over 1 litre or kilogram .

Farmers will deliver clean containers to designated collection points run by participating local councils. These councils will inspect the containers and process them so they can either be re-used, recycled or subjected to other environmentally approved processes such as energy recovery.

The need for drumMUSTER

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Why does Australian farming need drumMUSTER?

The pile of empty containers we see here today clearly demonstrates the problem. Every year around 4 million of these containers are sold to Australian farmers. If they were placed end to end, the line would stretch from Melbourne to Sydney - and back!

That's a lot of big, bulky containers to be disposed of - especially in traditional landfills.

Also on display today are piles of shredded plastic and crushed metal chemical containers and, perhaps more significantly, the recycled plastic and metal products that can be produced from these processed materials.

This is a powerful demonstration of the potential that drumMuster offers. It shows how empty and clean farm chemical containers can be a resource to be re-used and recycled, instead of being a waste product - and a potential risk to our environment.

But, there is another achievement of drumMUSTER that is no less important. That achievement is the voluntarily coming together of all stakeholders in the agricultural and veterinary chemical industry to make this initiative a reality. It is an excellent example of an industry taking responsibility for its actions and for demonstrating product stewardship.

drumMUSTER shows us what can be achieved when groups work together. It will provide other industries wishing to undertake similar schemes with useful and powerful mociel.

Brief history

drumMASTER didn't happen over night. Rather, it's the result of six years hard work involving the coordinated efforts of local governments, farmers, Avcare and Veterinary Manufacturers anci Distributors Association members, and State and Commonwealth

agencies.

All this effort has culminated in an Industry Waste Reduction Agreement signed in May 1998 under the auspices of the Australian and New Zealand Environment and Conservation Council.

drumMUSTER is one of the two components of this Agreement.

The other component involves reducing the amount of packaging by encouraging manufacturers to adopt alternatives, such as bulk or re-fillable containers, and to develop new packaging technologies - like the gel packs and water soluble packaging on display today.

By 2001, the Industry Waste Reduction Agreement aims to have reduced the total weight of chemical packaging by 32 per cent, and the weight of chemical container waste going to land fills by an impressive 68 per cent, compared with 1990 figures.

As part of this goal, drumMUSTER aims to recover 66 per cent of empty, rinsed, chemical

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containers.

Related issues

In addition to the disposal of empty containers, there is the related issue of the disposal of unwanted chemicals.

This is being addressed by the Australian and New Zealand Environment and Conservation Council and the Agriculture and Resource Management Council of Australia and New Zealand.

The National Farmers' Federation, Avcare, and the Veterinary Manufacturers and Distributors Association are working with the Federal Government to discuss the ongoing management of unwanted rural chemicals.

I recently launched National Strategy for the Management of Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals which I note has picked up both the issues of container disposal and the management of unwanted chemicals by including them as one of its key objectives.

The national strategy will only remain a living document if we collectively contribute to decisive actions such as today's initiative. I strongly encourage the development of coordinated activities (from the planning stage to the action stage) that address the important issue of responsible chemical management.

Conclusion

The successful implementation of drumMUSTER will help produce a cleaner environment and a cleaner food chain. In turn, this will significantly enhance Australia's international reputation as a producer of safe, healthy food. Something that consumers worldwide, and their governments, are increasingly demanding.

Achieving drumMUSTER's goals depends on a number of things. These include:

• the support of all levels of government, particularly the hands-on commitment of local government; • the co-operation of farmers and their organisations; and • the support and assistance of the agricultural and veterinary chemical

manufacturing and distribution industries.

I encourage the wholehearted approach taken by each of these groups towards this excellent initiative and I look forward to seeing their continued support.

Finally, I would like to congratulate everyone involved in developing drumMUSTER. It is a fine example of what can be achieved with determination and cooperation and I look forward to its

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