At Recoups conference in Peterborough on 26 September 2019, a national agricultural plastics collection scheme was unveiled Agriculture, Plastic and Environment UK (APE UK). The major producers of non-packaging agriplastics that represent 80% of the UK market have reached an agreement to implement the scheme, which is to be launched before the end of 2019. It will provide farmers with a solution for end-of-life non-packaging plastics used in agriculture.
The principles of APE UK will be
- equal and cost-effective access for agricultural business under an extended producer responsibility (EPR) framework
- collective, collaborative and shared responsibility of the scheme between farmers, distributors and producers
- full coverage throughout the UK for all non-packaging agriplastic products
The scheme is also to provide educational, technical and financial support to improve the quality of the waste collected, thereby improving recycling efficiencies. APE Europe says this will enable manufacturers to integrate more recyclate into products.
Around 44,000 t of agricultural plastics are put on the UK market every year. This makes up less than 4% of the total consumption of plastics in the UK, but plays a significant part in the production of crops and livestock, contributing to at least 60% of agricultural production, says the recycling organisation.
According to APE Europe, the UK is the eighth country that has implemented a national collection scheme for agriplastics among EU member states the others already using the collection system are France, Germany, Ireland, Iceland, Norway, Spain (Andalusia) and Sweden.
APE Europe notes that farmers have limited options available to them beyond landfilling or incinerating plastics waste, with less than 35% of used agricultural plastics in the UK being collected for recycling. In other countries in Europe operating a national scheme, the collection rate of agriplastics waste is more than 70%, and this results in a significant reduction in these plastics going to landfill or being incinerated.