IRISH farmers achieved a record 90 per cent recycling rate for farm plastics in 2021 and in doing so recycled the equivalent of plastic from 18 million silage bales.
The vast majority of the plastic was collected at over 200 bring-centres, which the Irish Farm Films Producers’ Group (IFFPG) held during the summer at locations such as marts, coops and agri-merchant premises.
This also represented a boost to circular economy objectives in Ireland as over a third of collected material was supplied to Irish recyclers for processing into a range of new products.
In total, 37,000 tonnes of silage wrap and pit cover waste was recycled in 2021, which was 3,000 tonnes more than in 2020, which was also a record year. Recent record levels of recycling can be attributed to a growing farm plastics market largely due to the abolition of the milk quota, as well as ever-increasing numbers of farmers engaging in recycling.
For the average farmer who produces 300 bales of silage, the total recycling cost is approximately €60, while average distance to his/her local bring-centre is only 11km. These factors, as well as a desire by farmers to be environmentally responsible, have resulted in the recycling rate for farm plastics being consistently the highest for any plastic waste stream in the country.
Farm plastics recycling in Ireland is coordinated by IFFPG, which is the national farm plastics compliance scheme. IFFPG, which is a not-for-profit body, has recycled over 400,000 tonnes of farm plastics waste since its establishment in 1998.
The scheme, which is funded by both the farm plastics industry and farmers and approved by the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications, is an excellent example of what can be achieved when all the key stakeholders in a sector come together to work for the environment.
Ossian Smyth, Minister of State at the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, welcomed this year’s record achievement of 90 per cent recycling of farm plastics.
He said: “The work of IFFPG is an excellent example of the positive impact that a successful Extended Producer Responsibility Scheme can have in enabling Ireland to responsibly manage our waste and transition towards a circular economy.
“The success of this scheme is testament to the effort and continued commitment of the farming community across Ireland to play their part in protecting our environment.
“Using domestic recycling solutions, where possible, to deal with our waste farm plastics is also a very welcome development in this sector and aligns with the core principles of our Waste Action Plan for a circular economy.”
Last year IFFPG supplied a third of what it collected to two Irish recycling facilities – ADN Materials in Carrickmacross and Sabrina Integrated Services (SIS) in Littleton. Ms Ciara Carolan, who is a director with ADN Materials, said that “in 2021 the company recycled 6,000 tonnes of farm plastics waste into pellets for sale to manufacturers of new plastic products such as refuse sacks and garden furniture and are currently upgrading their facility to recycle even more farm plastics waste this year”.
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