While debate rages about the long-term effects, and even the existence, of climate change, one thing that cannot be ignored or denied is the negative impact waste plastic is having on our planet. And, although single-use plastic bottles, straws, food packaging and other domestic plastics are all too often used to highlight the dangers posed to ocean environments and wider pollution issues, he part played by farming and other large-scale industry consumers of single-use plastics cannot be ignored.

Before we chastise ourselves too harshly, and to put things into perspective, the 44,000 tonnes of agricultural plastics sold into the UK market every year represents less than 4% of the nation’s total consumption of plastics. Nonetheless, it plays a significant role in the production of crops, livestock, and feed storage and preservation which together contribute to at least 60% of all agricultural production. Yet how to dispose of agri-plastic waste efficiently, ethically and affordably is a dilemma facing many farmers on a regular basis.

Now however, a new UK national collection scheme has just launched giving farmers and growers access to a network of collectors and drop-off centres from which all non-packaging agricultural plastic will be sent for reprocessing, including silage wrap, silage sheets, side sheets, bale nets and twine, greenhouse and tunnel film. The scheme will soon be extended to include silage protection sheets, crop fleece and other non-woven products.

The body behind the scheme is Agriculture, Plastic & Environment UK (APE), a non-profit organisation made up of producers and distributors of agri-plastic products representing some 80% of the UK market. It is being funded initially by an Environmental Protection Contribution (EPC) of 2p/kg
included in the product price across all product categories. Once the scheme is fully established the EPC will be subject to review based on collection rates and the consequential financial needs to ensure its continuation.

IT’S GREEN FOR A REASON

It’s the world’s first silage clamp sheeting and vacuum combination, and farmers already using O2 Barrier 2 in 1 silage protection sheets from Kelvin Cave Ltd, have chosen a product that is not only recognisable by the distinctive green hue of the top layer of its two-part construction, but is also the only oxygen barrier sheet that is 80% recyclable.

Easy to lay as a single sheet which transforms into two on the clamp, O2 Barrier 2 in 1 offers up to a tenfold decrease in oxygen permeability compared to conventional sheeting systems and better preserves the quality and nutritional value of feed within the clamp, minimising spoilage and wastage.

Furthermore, our original ClampFilm silage protection sheet and range of heavy-duty side sheets are also 100% recyclable, so disposal issues are fast becoming a thing of the past.

Until now, UK farmers have had limited options available to them beyond landfill or incineration, with less than 35% of used agri-plastics being collected for recycling. In other European countries operating similar national APE collection schemes, more than 70% of used agri-plastics are collected, resulting in a significant reduction in landfill or potentially polluting incineration.

There is little doubt that, for the time being at least, alternatives to plastics in agriculture are limited. But, by making informed choices and specifying products with a high recyclable content, it should now become a lot easier to go green and be part of a circular economy that reduces on-farm plastic waste.

You can find out more at apeeurope.eu

The 9-stage circular economy for recovery of agri-plastic waste

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