UK farm plastics scheme to be launched

APE UK (Agriculture, Plastic & Environment UK) launch a National Collection Scheme for used non-packaging agricultural plastics.

The objective is to provide farmers with a sustainable solution for the end-of-life management of their non-packaging agri-plastics.

44,000 tonnes of agricultural plastics are put on the UK market every year and whilst this represents less than 4% of the total consumption of plastics in the UK, it nonetheless plays a significant part in the production of crops and livestock, contributing to at least 60% of agricultural production.

Agri-plastics are vital to increasing the productivity of agriculture through the efficient control of essential crop and livestock parameters such as temperature, light, hygrometry, irrigation, weeds, pests, crop and fodder protection, whilst also reducing the use of resources such as water and chemicals. Agri-plastics therefore reduce the environmental impact of agricultural production whilst increasing the quality and quantity of food produced and the health of livestock.

Today, farmers have limited options available to them beyond landfill or incineration, with less than 35% of used agri-plastics in the UK being collected for recycling. In other European countries operating a national collection scheme, more than 70% of used agri-plastics are collected, resulting in a significant reduction in the landfill or incineration of these plastics.

The major manufacturers of non-packaging agri-plastics, representing 80% of the UK market, are pleased to announce that they have reached an agreement for a voluntary initiative to implement a National Collection Scheme called APE UK, to be launched before the end of 2019. The principles behind the scheme will be:

  • equal and cost-effective access for all agricultural business under the principles of an Extended Producer Responsibility (ERP) framework
  • collective, collaborative and shared responsibility of the scheme between all stakeholders: farmers, distributors and producers
  • full coverage throughout the UK for all non-packaging agri-plastic products

The scheme will also provide educational, technical and financial support through research and development to improve the quality of the waste collected so as to improve the efficiencies of recycling it. This will enable producers to integrate more recycled feedstock into the production of new products, thereby improving the efficiency of the Circular Economy.

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