Plastics disposal plan takes shape

A NATIONAL scheme for the retrieval and disposal of farm waste plastics, including used chemical containers, could be in place by next autumn.

Efforts by the Crop Protection Association, NFU and the Agricultural Industries Confederation, came to light following calls by FARMERS WEEKLY (Aug 13) for an industry-wide solution to the imminent ban on on-farm burning.

“Preliminary discussions with the Environment Agency have been very encouraging,” said CPA chief executive Peter Sanguinetti. “We‘re now collectively lobbying the minister.”

The disposal scheme, which is likely to be operated by existing waste disposal contractors, would offer collection and disposal of up to 133,000t/year of plastic waste, including up to 3,000t of chemical containers.

Financing through a levy on pesticide sales is the preferred approach, said NFU deputy president Peter Kendall.

“Asking someone to pay to have a used product removed is far less likely to succeed than charging up front. We‘re currently talking to merchants about this.”

Containers would need to be properly washed and triple-rinsed, stressed Mr Sanguinetti. All the plastic collected would then be centrally incinerated.

It is hoped that DEFRA will permit on-farm incineration of spray containers next year while the scheme is developed.

In Scotland officials have already indicated that on-farm incineration will be permitted if no alternative is available, noted Mr Sanguinetti. Burial of used chemical containers is set to be banned from Jan 1 2005.

Bulking up for collection and disposal should ensure costs are significantly reduced, he said.

“There will obviously be some cost. What the farmer wants is the lowest cost. Our responsibility is to come up with the most efficient scheme to help them.”

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