One million drums and counting

PREMIER PRODUCT: Noel Bubner said Drum Muster is the premier product stewardship program in Australia. Picture: Supplied

If all the plastic AgVet containers Noel Bubner has processed for recycling were laid side by side, they would stretch from Balaklava to Adelaide, back to Balaklava and all the way down to Adelaide.

That’s how much plastic waste off the one-man operation from the Balaklava area has managed to help clear off farms in South Australia—from Ceduna in the west to Mount Gambier in the south.

Mr Bubner, trading as Agricycling, collects the AgVet containers from drumMUSTER collection points, crushing and baling them as he goes with his baling truck.

drumMUSTER is Australia’s national product stewardship program which since it started in 1999 has collected 42 million containers.

drumMUSTER manager Allan McGann said Agricycling is an integral partner of the program, providing a valuable service collecting the stored drums from the 75 sites across the state.

He said that back in July this year Agricyling reached an outstanding milestone when they collected their one millionth drum for recycling. This was about 1000 tonnes of plastic that had been sent for recycling which otherwise would have become landfill or burnt on properties.

“This milestone is also reflected in the SA state collection numbers which recently passed the six million drum mark,” he said.

“The state’s farmers and other AgVet chemical users along with our collection agencies are to be congratulated of this fantastic result,” Mr McGann said.

For his part Mr Bubner, who is based at Salter Springs, said he considers himself myself pretty lucky.

“I love travelling around the country, sampling the pastries … finding out where the best pies are.”

He said got into the waste plastic processing around 2010 when he started baling waste agriculture plastic going into landfill.

With the help of an engineer, he built a baler that each week squashed the plastic into wheat sized bags.

For five years he exported the bags of plastic waste to China before that country imposed a ban on imports of waste from other countries.

Noel then pivoted to chemical drums, making half reasonable bales out of them, he said, and selling them for a while into Adelaide.

The market there crashed, he said, and he then found himself with a massive stockpile of AgVet Chemical containers he had collected from farms.

“I had about 30,000 drums,” he said.

Mr Bubner said he was aware of drumMUSTER so he contacted them.

“Allan popped out to see me and we got going.”

It was 2015 and Agricycling started processing drums for the program, first working in the Central SA region. In recent years Noel has expanded his operation to cover the entire state. Once a semi-trailer

load of 30 tonnes is ready, a contractor will collect them and take them to recycling operations in NSW and Queensland.

Mr Bubner said he can’t speak highly enough of drumMUSTER.

“drumMUSTER is the premier product stewardship program in Australia,” he said.

“Other users of plastic packaging in Australia should be using drumMUSTER as the model, whether it’s bulka bags or peanut butter jars. It’s a brilliant program.”

SA primary producers not currently taking advantage of drumMUSTER can find out more on how to participate at