Welsh farmers at crisis point over waste plastic

Emergency measures are needed to help farmers recycle thousands of tonnes of plastic waste, say industry leaders in Wales.

The suspension of plastic farm waste collection has prompted the Farmers’ Union of Wales (FUW) to call for urgent action from the Welsh government.

See also: ‘Critical’ situation as plastic recycler suspends service

Mountains of bale wrap, silage bags and other plastics are in danger of building up on farms across Wales, says the FUW.

FUW president Glyn Roberts said: “The Welsh government appears to be washing its hands of this potential time-bomb of rubbish, as farmers clean out their farms.”

Alarm raised

The alarm was originally raised last year by Birch Farm Plastics, which is the only company in Wales dedicated to agri-plastics collection.

Citing issues including recycling centre costs, the company suspended all collections for recycling after 30 years, starting from this month until the end of the year.

The FUW said farmers had been left without the means to recycle their waste.

Circular economy

Welsh rural affairs minister Lesley Griffiths has said she is keen to develop a circular economy for plastics with sufficient facilities so waste farm plastics can be collect and treated.

But Mr Roberts said: “It is obvious that the infrastructure has, for whatever reason, broken down and it appears to be the farming industry that will bear the brunt of this crisis.

He added: “We are facing a major problem that is not of our making and that is not in our control.”

Potential long-term solutions included the use of biodegradable materials and a supply chain that pays to have plastics recycled in Wales, added Mr Roberts.

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