It is now easier to take care of farm waste with the available collection and recycling options.
Some farm waste can be repurposed or reused replacing harmful burning, burying or bulk storing waste. Find out waste management options for your farm and help look after the environment.
Many plastics can be reused or recycled. Commonly used plastics include silage wrap, feed bags, bailing twine, plastic containers and drums.
Recycling company Plasback sells liners for silage wrap online; once full, you can get the liners collected.
One liner holds up to 200 round wraps. Bins to hold liners can be bought online or you can build your own. Plasback will also collect polypropylene feed and seed bags, HDPE drums and bailing twine, but these need to be kept in separate liners.
Visit the Plasback website or free phone 0508 338 240.
Environmental and health impacts: Bonfire temperatures do not usually get high enough to completely combust plastics resulting in the release of carbon monoxide, heavy metals, dioxins and furans, contaminants that can have major negative health effects on people and animals and may be carcinogenic.
It is free to recycle containers for more than 3,000 commonly used products.
Agrecovery has over 70 collection sites nationwide and holds collection events in areas without sites.
Large users (over 300 containers) can get the containers picked up on farm. Before collection, containers will be inspected and must be empty and triple rinsed inside and out to ensure they are free from residue and dirt. Labels must be left on to identify the brand.
Visit the Agrecovery website or phone 0800 AGRECOVERY (0800 247 326)
Agrecovery offers free collection from your property for drums and intermediate bulk containers (IBC) for a number of brands. Other brands can be collected for a fee.
Plasback will collect for free, 100L and 200L HDPE Ecolab and Agpro drums provided they are in good condition.Reuse tip: Empty plastic drums are great for storing and transporting materials, providing they are cleaned thoroughly before use.
Feedbags can be recycled through the Plasback recycling scheme.
Place empty feed bags in a liner bought from Plasback and arrange collection when the liner is full.
Visit the Plasback website or free phone 0508 338 240.Reuse tip: Feedbags can be reused for storage or temporary weed matting around plants.
Bailing twine can also be recycled through the Plasback recycling scheme.
You can purchase a mini liner which is ideal for collecting smaller volumes of feed bags and bailing twine. Keep the different types of waste (waste streams) in separate Plasback liners. Find out more about the waste streams.
Visit the Plasback website or free phone 0508 338 240.Reuse tip: Bailing twine can be reused for a number of purposes and many farmers tie loops of it to their bikes to have it on-hand when needed.
Many chemicals are free to dispose. Others may cost but are often subsidised. Agrichemicals commonly used on farm include herbicides, insecticides, fungicides and veterinary medicines.
Agrecovery specialises in the safe collection and disposal of unwanted or expired agrichemicals and their containers. Collections are held on a regional basis.
To organise chemical disposal with Agrecovery, firstly take an inventory of unwanted chemicals for disposal and book online or call 0800 247 326. Any applicable costs will be advised before collection is confirmed. For general agrichemical collection, visit the Agrecovery website or phone 0800 AGRECOVERY (0800 247 326).Environmental and health impacts: Agrichemicals can be toxic, and may contain carcinogens, heavy metals and other compounds which can be dangerous to humans, animals and the environment. They are often only used in small amounts, but can have a large environmental impact if used or disposed of incorrectly. The correct management, storage and disposal of agrichemicals is essential.
Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs)
It is illegal to use or store any chemicals containing POPs. DDT is the most well-known POP but there are a number of others including dieldrin, aldrin and lindane.
The safe disposal of these should be a priority and special care taken with POPs.
The Great DDT Muster provides a free and confidential collection and disposal service for farmers across New Zealand. To book a POP collection, visit The Great DDT Muster website or call 0800 247 326.
Using a collection service is the most common and easiest method for responsible stock disposal. Alternatively, correctly constructed offal pits or compost bins.
Some companies will charge a collection fee for the animal, others will pay for certain stock for example, dead calves (with specifications).
A number of licensed commercial operators provide a collection service for dead stock.
The collection service needs to be notified as soon as possible so the animal can be collected on the next available pick up. Animal hides also need to be in good condition.
Offal pits should be well away from waterways, wetlands, bores, property boundaries and the farm dairy. They should also be shallow enough that groundwater will not enter.
Surface water should be directed away from the pit using cuttings or nibs. Good practice is to seal the pit with a concrete slab or an airtight cover-plate - which is also important for health and safety. Organic matter produced on the farm should be the only material in the pit.
There are strict rules around the placement and construction of offal pits. They should be more than 46m from the farm dairy. For more information see NZCP1: Design and operation of farm dairies or contact your regional council.
Advice by region
Under Auckland Council rules offal holes, shallow trenches and composting are permitted provided:
- where stock does not come from a commercial animal processing business
- the material to be composted does not create odour or pest problems
- there is no discharge into any surface water body, or contamination of groundwater.
You can check regional rules (5.5.34 and 5.5.35) here.
Digging offal holes is a permitted activity under the Waikato Regional Plan, provided:
- it is not within 10m of a sink hole or cave entrance
- it is not within 100m of a bore or water body
- it is not on a river floodplain or some types of wetland
- the base of the hole is at least one metre above groundwater depth
- the hole is covered, and only animal or perishable household waste is disposed of there.
You can check regional rules (rule 18.104.22.168) here.
Bay of Plenty
Digging offal holes is a permitted activity under Bay of Plenty Regional Council Regional Water and Land Plan rule 26 provided:
- it is not within 50m of a bore, waterway, geothermal surface feature, coastal marine area, or in a flood plain
- there is at least 2m from the base of the offal hole to ground water; and is properly sealed.
Only animal and vegetable material from normal farm operations on the property where the hole is located may be discharged into the hole. You can read more here.
Environment Canterbury rules in addition to these requirements for pits are:
- It must be 50 m3 or smaller, and is designed to prevent surface runoff, or animals, from entering it
- Animals disposed of in it must be from the same property
- It must have at least 3m of soil or sand between offal and the seasonal high water table
- Only one pit is allowed per 100 hectares per year
- When the pit is filled to within 0.5m of the surface, or no longer used, the contents must be covered with at least 0.5m of soil, or the pit covered with an impermeable lid
- It does not cause an offensive or objectionable odour beyond the property boundary
- It is not within a Community Drinking-water Protection Zone or Christchurch Groundwater Protection Zone or on an archeological site
- It must be more than 150m from any sensitive activity outside the property (such as homes, sports grounds, churches or beaches) unless it is completely covered by soil or impermeable material.
Your local district council may also have specific rules, particularly about odour. So please check with them about your plans.
Otago Regional Council has the following requirements for pits, in addition to those above:
- it is not constructed within 100 metres, horizontally, of a well which provides water for domestic purposes or drinking water for livestock
- leachate from the pit does not enter any water bodies
- it is dug to avoid groundwater seepage into the pit
- it is not within 50 metres, horizontally, of a property boundary.
Your local district council may also have specific rules, particularly about odour. So please check with them about your plans.
Southland proposed Water & Land Plan
Putting a carcass or offal into or onto land is a permitted activity provided:
- The animal is buried on the same land it died on
- The only contaminants in a offal hole are carcasses, offal or a compost bulking agent, and the carcass or offal is not buried between a river and flood banks
- The site isn’t within a riverbed, artificial waterway, ephemeral waterway, lake, gully or a swale. The offal hole should be a minimum of:
- 50 metres from a natural wetland, waterway or waterbody including the coastal marine area (or 150 metres if the burial is on loose gravels)
- 100 metres from a water abstraction point (or 200 metres if the burial is on loose gravels)
- 100 metres from a dwelling, assembly or property boundary
- 250 metres from a drinkable water abstraction point.
- Stormwater is directed away from the offal hole site
- The offal hole does not intercept a subsurface drain and is not below the water table
- The carcass does not touch natural limestone rock
- Burial of a single animal must also comply with Environment Southland rules. If covered by soil or organic material, the burial must not occur within 20 metres of surface water, an abstraction point, a dwelling, a place of assembly or property boundary.
Environment Southland recommend using a Shallow Trench, keeping the carcass decomposition in the top soil layer to avoid groundwater contamination. More information about good management of offal holes is available here.
If you cannot meet these permitted activity criteria then you will need to talk to Environment Southland about a resource consent.
Composting is an effective way to dispose of dead stock while creating a useful product and minimising the potential for groundwater contamination. If managed well, composting can be low cost and relatively odour free.
Composting involves micro-organisms breaking down carcasses to form humus that can be spread over non-productive areas such as domestic gardens and shelter belts.
The process requires using a material high in carbon, for example sawdust or straw, as a bulking agent. This is layered with the dead animal in bins. Sawdust from calf sheds or chip from feed pads can be used as a bulking agent. The process may take up to six months depending on the size of the animal.
See Dead stock disposal for information about disposal options.
Fertiliser and feed storage
Storing fertiliser and feed correctly reduces waste and protects your soil and waterways.
- Store fertiliser and feed well away from waterways.
- Fertiliser and feed should be well covered and be stored on a hard surface with leachate contained.
- Vermin control measures should be put in place to manage pests around fertiliser and feed
Refer to the Fertiliser Association code of practice for more information about fertiliser use, storage and handling.
Silage leachate is very acidic, contains high levels of nutrients and as a result is extremely toxic to waterways. Preparing and storing silage well is the best way to minimise leachate.
- Store silage away from waterways and tile drains. Avoid areas that are prone to flooding or have a high water table.
- Direct overland flow and rainwater away from the silage stack.
- Store silage on hard-sealed areas and collect leachate and direct into effluent system or a water-tight sump.
- If silage is well-wilted when it goes into the stack, then it will produce less leachate.
- Bales can also produce leachate., ensure these are stored well away from waterways.
- For more information on silage storage refer to Designing silage and feed storage areas (Farmfact 1-48).
Storing agrichemicals correctly avoids leaks and spills and is important to keeping people, animals, the environment and your property safe.
- Ideally store chemicals in a stand-alone shed that can be locked and is away from fire risk areas and areas of pollution risk.
- The area should have a sealed floor in case of any drips or leaks.
- Separate chemical types and store with other similar chemicals.
- Store liquids on the bottom with powders and granules above.
- Make sure cardboard and paper containers are kept dry.
For more information on correct storage of agrichemicals, visit the Safer farms website.
Other waste and waste management options
Major fertiliser companies run a take-back system where you can drop the fertiliser bag back into the store to be recycled.
Contact your fertiliser company to find out about the programmes they offer.
A number of local tyre collection and recycling schemes provide environmentally friendly options for end-of-life tyres. Contact your regional or local council for more information.
Waste Tyre Solutions collects and either recycles tyres or disposes of them in a way that is legal and consented. They collect regularly from locations around the North Island and will collect from South Island locations by arrangement. The cost will depend on the type of tyre and pick-up location.
Visit the Waste Tyre Solutions website or phone 0800 22 44 52.Environmental and health impacts: Burning tyres is illegal and produces toxic gases, disposing of them in landfills is not recommended due to the environmental risks.Reuse tip: Tyres can be recycled or reused for securing silage stacks.
Used oil disposal
Some mechanics who service farm machinery and vehicles can take waste oil with them when they leave and dispose of it in a responsible way. Talk to the company that services your equipment and ask about any waste oil take-back schemes that they may run.
Oil disposal at Supercheap Auto is free. There are 21 stores around the country with oil recycling bins. Oil must be dropped off during opening hours.
Visit Supercheap Auto for more information and store locations.
Waste Petroleum Combustion Ltd operates in the North Island and does regular pickups. It is free for amounts over 400L or for contaminated fuel. Oil should be in a sealed container with the cap on tightly. To organise a collection or to find out when the next collection is, contact 0800 WASTEOIL (0800 9278 3645) or visit the Waste Petroleum Combustion Ltd. website.Environmental and health impacts: Oil that has been used in machinery, vehicles or other equipment can become contaminated with substances such as heavy metals and other potential carcinogens. These are all harmful when in contact with humans and the environment.
Batteries – responsible disposal
Batteries are generally free to dispose of but check with your local council, petrol station or automotive shop. Most petrol stations, garages and automotive shops will accept old batteries and council waste stations also have collection points. If batteries are broken or leaking, ensure they are in a sealed bag.
Some scrap metal recyclers also accept batteries as they contain lead. They will generally pay a set amount per kilo of battery. Check with your local scrap metal recycler for more information and prices.Tip: When storing old batteries, ensure they are on a sealed surface, such as concrete, so that if leakage does occur, it doesn’t contaminate soil or water.Environmental and health impacts: Lead acid batteries are commonly used on farms in vehicles such as cars, tractors, motorcycles and uninterruptible power supplies. They contain sulphuric acid and lead, both are dangerous if disposed of incorrectly. Sulphuric acid will burn lungs and skin and lead is a heavy metal which can poison people and the environment.
The best disposal method for treated timber is to take it to a landfill where the leachate can be managed and environmental effects mitigated. There are limited disposal options in New Zealand because of the toxicity of the chemicals involved.
Wooden pallets, such as those from bulk fertiliser, can usually be returned to the supplier and some offer a credit for their return.
Treated timber is widely used throughout New Zealand in many buildings and structures. It is most commonly treated with copper, chromium and arsenate (CCA), boron preservative or light organic solvent preservative (LOSP). This protects timber against attack from fungi and insects but creates an environmental hazard when it comes to disposal.
Recycling on-farm may be an option, depending on what it is being reused for. Avoid reusing treated timber where there may be regular contact with humans or animals or where there is potential for contamination of groundwater.Reuse tip: Treated timber can be painted or sealed to reduce the potential toxicity, allowing it to be reused for a wider range of purposes. Timber which is not treated can be burnt or reused for things such as raised garden beds.
Environmental and health impacts: When treated timber is burnt, heavy metals and chemicals are released into the atmosphere and accumulate in ash. This poses a risk to humans, stock and wildlife as these metals can be carcinogens at high concentrations. Burying treated timber may result in leaching of heavy metals, leading to contamination of soil and waterways.
Scrap metal – recycling
Scrap metal can be collected and recycled through dealers who will often pay for the metal. The value will depend on the type of metal and its condition.
Collecting and safely storing pieces of scrap metal until you have enough to be exchanged for cash, is an easy way to reduce the amount of waste to be disposed of.
Contact your local scrap metal dealer for more information on collection and prices for scrap metal.Tip: Have an old drum designated for collecting scrap metal. Collect everything from old bits of wire to fence staples and when you have enough, take it to a dealer and exchange for cash.
Needles and syringes – safe disposal
Containers with needles and syringes should be labelled as a biohazard waste container. Ideally, the container should be taken to a vet or other service provider who accepts waste sharps and can dispose of them correctly.
The correct disposal method is to collect needles and syringes in a puncture-proof container and, when full, seal and secure with duct tape. Vet clinics may be able to provide a specialised sharps container to keep on farm and return when full.
Needles and syringes should not be burned, buried or put in domestic rubbish.
Paint take-back schemes
Paint take-back schemes are run by major paint companies and some services are free.
Resene runs PaintWise for Resene products. This is free and for other brands a small charge applies. Certain leftover paint and containers can be returned to selected Resene stores. Leftover paint will be distributed to a community organisation that requires it, recycled or disposed of appropriately and the containers recycled.
Visit Resene’s PaintWise scheme or contact your local Resene store for more information.
The Dulux paint take-back service is free for Dulux products and for other brands there is a small charge. Dulux’s paint take-back service allows leftover paint and empty containers to be returned to selected Dulux centres for reuse or recycling.