Plasback Sustainability Award Winner 2012

Winner 2012 Plasback Sustainability Award                      August 2012

The Plasback Sustainability Award has been presented at this year’s Australian Fodder Industry Association (AFIA) Conference in Hobart. The award recognises excellence in sustainable farming practices, with a particular emphasis on innovations that will benefit the fodder industry.

The winning entry this year was David & Karen Black from Murchison East, Victoria.

 David & Karen Black

Plasback is a product stewardship program, initiated by Tapex in 2010, to provide farmers with a cost effective system to recycle farm plastics. The Plasback service is currently available in Victoria, NSW and South Australia (from September). It turns used fodder protection plastics back into useful products such as Tuffboard lining sheets and Tuffdeck non-slip grating. Tapex is Australia’s leading supplier of fodder protection plastics.

Award entries from three states were judged by Helen Millicer; Helen Millicer & Associates, Sonja Duncan; SD Environmental and Ed George; Tapex Environmental Manager.

The winners, David and Karen Black, will receive $5000 worth of Tapex products. The Black’s run a mixed family farm in the Goulburn Valley, primarily sheep, hay & grain production and contracting. They have chosen as their prize Empak compost covers. The recyclable covers prevent adverse weather conditions from damaging compost windrows and promote faster aerobic decomposition of the compost.

The Black’s compost unused organic materials that would have previously been regarded as waste, transforming it into a valuable resource.Prior to setting up their composting system, the Black’s undertook13 days of training,adopting the intensively managed composting system advocated by the Lubke’s of Austria and Mid-West Bio Systems of the United States. Straw and old hay are the common ingredients used. The Black’s supply straw to a piggery for bedding in eco sheds, getting the used straw and manure for composting back in return. Feedlot hay spoilt by lambs, damaged Lucerne and old silage also make good composting materials, while the piggery manure is the primary nitrogen source.

The quality compost produced has a high humic acid content, no sulphides, stabilizes plant available nutrients and has greatly improved soil health. Composting has allowed them to virtually eliminate the use of costly high analysis fertilizers ($1000+ a tonne).

The cost? Per cubic metre to compost over a 8-10 week period from collecting the raw material to finished product ready to spread is in the range of $25-$40.

The investment?  David built his own compost turner for $25,000. Test equipment cost $1000, Empak compost covers $1500, a 2nd hand tractor w/creeper gears $23,000, education $3900.  Other machinery was already at hand.  All up around $55,000 was spent to set the system up. With a target of 2000 cubic metres of compost production per annum, David believes the payback in fertiliser savings and land productivity will be less than 3 years.

Of course the Black’s also recycle all their silage film and baling twine waste through Plasback. They drop their full Plasback liners at no charge into their local City of Greater Shepparton council transfer station.

To find out more about recycling through Plasback in your area, visit


Turning the compost windrows




You are here: News & Media Plasback Sustainability Award Winner 2012