New guide to help farmers dispose of waste plastic

Farmers are being encouraged to reduce the amount of agricultural waste plastic going into landfill by following a new set of guidelines.

A good practice information sheet, giving farmers guidance on handling, segregation and storage of agricultural waste plastics, has been launched and is available to download.

The publication is part of efforts to raise farmer awareness ahead of the expected introduction of a Statutory Producer Responsibility (PR) scheme.

The main thrust of the scheme should see non-packaging plastic manufacturers and importers given responsibility for funding collection of the waste, with every farm across the country given access to a free service at the point of collection.

The development of the scheme is being informed by a £1m research project funded by DEFRA’s Business Resource Efficiency and Waste (BREW) programme.

DEFRA Minister for Waste Joan Ruddock said: “Farmers have a vital role to play in reducing waste by increasing the amount they recycle. It is essential that Government works in partnership with farmers to provide them with guidance on how best to do this.

“The Good Practice guide for Waste Plastics collection and Recovery offers practical advice on the best ways of managing plastics to increase the amount collected and recycled.

“I recognise that government also needs to reduce the bureaucratic burden for farmers who at present are responsible for the disposal of their plastics and that is why we are currently developing a range of proposals for a new Producer Responsibility scheme. We will consult on the scheme in the New Year.”

NFU waste spokesman Robert Caudwell believes the scheme will have a positive impact on NFU members by helping to develop and improve nationwide recycling infrastructure and thereby reducing the cost of compliance with the new Waste Regulations.

He said: “Introducing a producer-pays scheme may see some increased costs passed onto products, but the NFU believes it will ultimately be the most cost-effective option for farmers. In the current climate of waste management, having a regulated PR scheme will assist in the collection and diversion of waste farm plastics from landfill in what we hope will be a win-win situation for farmers and the environment.”

There’s a useful Frequently Asked Questions section on the Agricultural Waste Plastics website.