Farm film collection schemes ’on track’ 

The two rival farm film plastic collection schemes which launched at the start of this year have said their respective schemes are both running well and are “on track” to deliver collection schemes for farmers. 

The UK Farm Plastic Responsibility Scheme (UKFPRS) and the Agriculture, Plastic & Environment UK (APE UK) are voluntary schemes that were both announced towards the end of 2019.

Farm plastics are vital for farmers, but difficult to recycle

Both systems look to increase the amount of non-packaging agri-plastics, commonly known as farm films, collected in the UK.

These materials play “a hugely significant part in the production of crops and livestock”, according to APE UK, but can be damaging if not disposed of correctly.

They are also difficult to recycle, with many farmers reporting that while they used to be paid for the material, they now have to landfill it as end markets have dried up.

UKFPRS

When speaking with letsrecycle.com, both schemes said their initial focus would be on the collection of material, and then work would move to ensuring it is recycled.

Mark Webb, director of Farm XS and founder of UKFPRS, confirmed that 2020 has been a year for “underpinning” and “internal’ work”.

Mr Webb added that the scheme is in the process of changing its name to the Green Tractor Scheme.

“2020 is a year where the world didn’t hear a lot from us, but a lot of underpinning work has been done”

Mark Webb, Farm XS

Mr Webb said: “I’d say it’s been more of an internal year rather than an external year. The website is up and running, and I think we see 2020 is a year where the world didn’t hear a lot from us, but a lot of underpinning work has been done.”

Once clean, the material can be shredded and turned into pellets, but as a non-packaging material it wouldn’t benefit from any PRN money.

Mr Webb added that the scheme has been “extremely busy” in terms of collecting the material and are in the process of overcoming any “hiccups” in the recycling process, but didn’t give any further information.

“We are busier than they we were before. However, it’s a bit hard to judge as this industry has seen its hiccups. But we are moving forward at the moment.”

UKFPRS work by adding no additional cost to farmers and no levy on new products, and works on a ‘business as usual’ basis, in terms of collection. The organisers of the scheme have previously warned that adding a levy is “dangerours”, and it has risen greatly in countries, such as France, where such a scheme has been introduced.

APE UK

In contrast to UKFPRS, APE UK is funded by adding a £20 per tonne fee on material such as greenhouse and tunnel film, mulch film, silage sheets and bale net and twine, when it is purchased by farmers.

“We are on track, the scheme is collecting the money, and the modality of it will be announced in the autumn”

Carl Banchero, APE UK

The money then goes to a not-for-profit company which will arrange for its collections.

Consultant for APE, Carlo Banchero, said that the scheme has been working with producers of the material and many have added the levy onto their products.

Mr Banchero added that at the end of September, they will “lay their cards on the table” and more details about the scheme will be published,  and full collection operations should start January 2021. All contributing products put on the market during 2020 will contribute to the cost of their recycling after use next year.

Mr Banchero said: “We are on track, the scheme is collecting the money, and the modality of it will be announced in the autumn.”

He added that APE are also looking for new ways to collect the material, such as looking into getting farm plastic ‘bring banks’ into household waste and recycling centres (HWRCs).

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