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Defra to develop farm plastics scheme
21/03/06

Defra today announced plans to develop statutory producer responsibility regulations to increase the collection and recycling of non packaging farm plastics.

big bales wrapped

The regulations, which will be developed in collaboration with the devolved administrations, would cover England, Scotland and Wales. Northern Ireland will consider introducing regulations following consultation.

Producer responsibility regulations are already in place for producers that place packaging on the market and it is expected that any collection scheme would be set up to collect both packaging and non packaging farm plastics.

It is estimated that about 86,000 tonnes of waste plastic are generated on farms in England each year. Over 90% of holdings produce plastic waste, with packaging waste estimated to be about 21,000 tonnes and non-packaging plastic waste estimated at about 65,000 tonnes per year.

Local Environmental Quality Minister Ben Bradshaw explained that Defra have carefully considered whether to bring in separate producer responsibility regulations or a voluntary scheme to deal with the collection of farm plastics and that responses to a consultation on this indicated that a majority of responses strongly favoured a statutory scheme:

“We have considered carefully whether to bring in regulations to deal with farm plastics or whether to use a voluntary approach.

“Responses to our consultation on the Waste Management Regulations indicated that the majority of stakeholders were in favour of the legislation including, importantly, the businesses who would bear the cost - the producers of agricultural films themselves. These companies were unanimously in favour of legislation.

“Voluntary schemes are susceptible to free riding, a problem which led to the collapse of a previous voluntary scheme.

“Therefore, in this case, legislation is the right approach. It avoids importers undercutting domestic prices and gaining a competitive advantage. A regulatory regime will also provide the right signal and the certainty to stimulate investment in collection and recycling.”

The development of Regulations will be informed by a £1m project funded under the Business Resource Efficiency and Waste (BREW) programme. The project is looking at how farm plastic waste can best be collected for recovery from farms within the formal structure of a producer responsibility scheme.

The Government is also setting-up an Advisory Group as part of the existing Advisory Committee on Packaging to advise on the development of Regulations.

This group will include producers of both packaging and non-packaging farm plastics, the farming community, the waste industry and the relevant Government Departments and Environment Agencies.

Today's announcement comes as new rules , due to be laid before Parliament shortly, will place controls for agricultural waste in line with those for all other business sectors.

The agricultural waste regulations mean that farmers will no longer able to dispose of waste, including farm plastics, in ‘farm dumps' without a landfill permit. The open burning of plastic waste will also been banned.

Notes:

1. It is estimated that about 85,000 tonnes of waste plastic are generated on farms in England each year. Over 90% of holdings produce plastic waste, with packaging waste estimated to be about 21,000 tonnes and non-packaging plastic waste estimated at about 65,000 tonnes per year.

2. The Agricultural Waste Stakeholders Forum (AWSF) includes representatives from the National Farmers’ Union, Agricultural Industries Confederation, Crop Protection Association, Environmental Services Association, national and local Government and the Environment Agency. The aims of the AWSF include the reduction of agricultural waste by the industry, increased recovery of wastes and the development of practical, integrated systems and infrastructure for the management of waste.

3. The EU Waste Framework Directive requires that waste is recovered or disposed of in ways that do not cause risk to the environment or harm to human health. The Directive has applied to other sectors of industry since 1994. These changes will apply both the Waste Framework Directive's and the Landfill Directive’s requirements to agricultural waste.

4. Defra’s BREW programme, the Business Resource Efficiency and Waste Programme, recycles revenue generated through increases in Landfill Tax to fund a range of free services, targeted support and research to help businesses move to more sustainable waste practices.

5. The Producer Responsibility Obligations (Packaging Waste) Regulations 2005 ("the packaging Regulations") set recovery and recycling targets on businesses that are 'producers', i.e. that manufacture packaging or raw materials for packaging, fill packaging or sell packaging, import packaging or packaging materials or lease packaging to other businesses.

6. A Government consultation exercise in 2004/2005 asked whether the Government
should proceed with the development of a producer responsibility scheme for non
packaging farm plastics and if so, whether such a scheme should be statutory or voluntary. Responses indicated strong support for a regulatory approach. A similar consultation exercise in December 2004 in Scotland produced the same conclusion. The Government has therefore decided to make producer responsibility Regulations to increase the collection and recycling of farm plastics.


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DEFRA
Department for Environment
Food and Rural Affairs