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Producer responsibility for non-packaging farm plastics announced

Plans to develop statutory producer responsibility regulations to increase the collection and recycling of non-packaging farm plastics were announced by the Government this week.

According to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), the regulations will cover England, Scotland and Wales, developed in collaboration with the devolved administrations. Northern Ireland will consider introducing regulations following a consultation.

As producer responsibility regulations are already in operation for producers of packaging, any collection schemes set up are expected to take both packaging and non-packaging waste.

Estimates put the amount of waste plastic generated on farms in England at 86,000 tonnes a year, with about two-thirds of this being non-packaging.

Environment Minister Ben Bradshaw said Defra had considered carefully whether to introduce a voluntary scheme to deal with farm plastics collection or separate producer responsibility regulations. But responses to a consultation showed majority support for a statutory scheme.

Bradshaw said: “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 regulations will be informed by a £1 million project into the collection of farm plastics waste under a producer responsibility scheme. An advisory group, as part of the existing Advisory Committee on Packaging, will also be set up.

Meanwhile the FarmPlas Network, a national network of regional collection schemes for waste farm plastic, has launched a new website for farmers (www.farmplas.co.uk). It will offer farmers money saving tips, news on legislation, and the opportunity to find out about collection schemes and the recycling process.

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