MANY farmers remain unconvinced that the issues impacting on the collection and storage of farm plastics will be addressed in the short to medium term, according to Independent TD for Cork South-West Michael Collins.
Deputy Collins was speaking after he directed a number of questions to the Irish Farm Film Producers Group CLG (IFFPG) during a meeting of the joint committee on agriculture, food and the marine.
Farm plastics recycling in Ireland is co-ordinated by the IFFPG, a not-for-profit body, funded by both the farmers and approved by the Minister for the Environment.
‘My main priority was to highlight a number of critical concerns impacting farmers such as compliance levels, the retention of a significant tonnage of unrecycled plastic in IFFPG storage yards,’ said Deputy Collins.
He also highlighted the recent increase from €160 to €240 per tonne for the group’s producer members who place farm plastics products on the market.
‘The storage issue obviously affects the level of trust that farmers who are paying to have their plastics disposed of responsibly can have in the IFFPG,’ he said.
‘I simply do not accept that the IFFPG as an organisation with an annual turnover of €6m and a reserve of approximately €3m cannot do better by farmers who have an obvious interest in seeing the integrity of the farm plastics recycling regime being maintained. This is why I think we need to develop a greater role for independent farm plastic collection operators who are at the moment being frozen out of the process,’ he claimed.
However, ceo of IFFPG Liam Moloney pointed out that the price hike for its members (eg Dairygold and Kerrygold) came during a period when the recycling market was expensive and difficult.
‘It’s up to members if that price trickles down to farmers, but the price for farmers bringing plastic to our bring centres remains the same at €35 per half tonne, that would be bale wrap from 250 bales,’ he said.
He also said that it was normal for them to carry plastics in their yards: ‘Everything we collect is ultimately recycled – 45% goes to Tipperary, but there’s not sufficient capacity in Ireland so the rest goes to the UK and mainland Europe.’
In response to Deputy Collins, he said the group had no problem with independent collectors: ‘But they have the responsibility for what they collect.’
Last year Irish farmers recycled plastic from the equivalent of 18m silage bales in 2022 and in doing so achieved 88% recycling rate.
The vast majority of the plastic was collected from farmers at over 200 bring-centres, which the Irish Farm Films Producers’ Group (IFFPG) held throughout the summer at locations such as livestock marts, coops and agri-merchants, including points in West Cork.