Tightening Legislation on Plastic Waste Poses Major Challenge

With tens of thousands of tonnes of plastic waste being generated by the farming industry every year there is an increasing pressure, from the supply chain and consumers, for the industry to take immediate action to address the issue.

 “Under current legislation, farmers are required to minimise waste and ensure it is collected by registered waste carriers, as well as ensure any waste that is contaminated is received by a permitted facility. However, more can be done, and needs to be done if farmers are to meet tightening legislation concerning waste plastic,” advised Chris Vasey, Transfer Operations and Polymers Divisional Director, for Avanti (a Tradebe Company), who presented in the Innovation Hub at this year’s Dairy Tech event, at Stoneleigh Park in Warwickshire on 6 February. 

Avanti processes a variety of farm waste plastics including chemical containers

Avanti processes a variety of farm waste plastics including chemical containers

Avanti (a Tradebe Company) recently announced a partnership with Deosan, the UK’s leading hygiene company, to be the first company in the UK to introduce a national scheme that will offer a one stop collection service to any farm location for all plastic waste.

“There’s a tremendous will from farmers to be more proactive in terms of responsible waste management, however often they are not aware of changing legislation and the options available to them to manage the waste. The support is out there!

“A combination of approaches is recommended if the most effective solution is to be achieved.  First and foremost, reduce use. We have seen efforts made on this, however, understandably many farm supplies require plastic packaging for safe and efficient handling. So, the next action is to look at ways to reuse on farms. By extending the life of your plastic waste, you reduce the greenhouse gas emissions by reducing your plastic demand.

“Recycling technology has improved in recent years, and this continuing investment is where we see the most potential for waste from UK farms. There is a demand from the marketplace for plastics to recycle, however, to ensure this is efficient two actions are needed. First, sort your plastic at the farm. Segregating your plastics on the farm makes the collection service much more viable and minimises the cost to the farmer. On a practical note, this could be bulk bags (also known as flexible intermediate bulk container, or FIBC), drums or small poly bags – keep them separate to add value.

“In addition, consider using a national collection service. By carrying out a ‘milk round’ collection scheme, Avanti can utilise their network of local licensed sites, therefore reducing miles of empty loads and hence reduce the carbon emissions created through handling. Avanti also ensure you comply with all current legislation and the waste is handled legally, professionally and in a cost-effective manner.  

“Recovery is a growing industry, as we look as producing energy without reliance on fossil fuels. This is clearly a marketplace to watch as facilities come on line requiring low value or more typically non-recyclable waste plastic.

“Currently, there is still a proportion of plastic types that are disposed of in landfills.  Huge efforts are being made to reduce this, which will potentially bring future opportunities for recycling companies to market.

“To summarise, UK farmers are strongly advised to adopt the most sustainable approach to farm plastic waste management. That is reduce, reuse, recycle and recover.

“By working together, we should aim to be self-sufficient in recycling plastics in the UK, over the next 20 years which would obviously be a major step in reducing our carbon footprint and would be an incredible achievement for the industry.”


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