• Farming

What do farmers do with their plastic?

Monday, 12th August, 2019 10:05pm

Story by Emma Connolly
What do farmers do with their plastic?

Part of the huge pile of plastic wrappings collected from local farms and brought to the central collection point at Skibbereen Mart, as farmers do their bit for recycling. From there, the plastic is taken to a recycling centre.

WEST Cork farmers turned out in their droves to the Irish Farm Film Producers Group’s (IFFPG) recent collections in the area, despite increased levies imposed this year.  

During July the collections took place over two days in Lisavaird, Skibbereen, Dunmanway, Bantry, Macroom, Schull and Castletownbere. 

In June collections took place in Barryroe and Bandon with Belgooly and Cloghduv GAA clubs to host collections later this month.

Chris Hayes, a Rosscarbery farmer and vice-chair of the IFA national environment and rural affairs committee and West Cork representative, said the response every year to the collections was growing, which is hugely welcome.  And he said the benefits were clear – there’s the obvious environmental one; secondly as farmers get a certificate of disposal it helps with cross compliance inspections, and of course there’s also been a marked reduction of plastic dumped in the countryside in recent years. 

IFFPG were set up a number of years ago as a result of talks at IFA and government level.  It describes its role as providing ‘cost effective compliance to our members (companies that place farm film products on the market) and a comprehensive recycling service for farmers nationwide to ensure that we exceed national recycling targets as set by the government.’

Last year the not-for-profit body collected 28,000 tonnes, and it looks like it will be in excess of that this year. 

In June, when the majority of their collections were made, they announced an 88% increase in the number of bags of farm plastic waste collected, compared to last year. 

Farmers can recycle fertiliser bags, feed bags, plastic drums (once triple rinsed), netting, twine, plastic wrap and sheets and silage wrap.

Plastic collected is taken to Europe where it’s recycled into things like refuse sacks, piping, garden furniture and damp-proofing products. 

Earlier this year, IFPPG manager Liam Moloney announced an increase to both farmer collection charges and the recycling levy as a result of the Chinese market closure to plastic waste. 

This meant European recyclers were charging gate fees which Mr Moloney said would cost them in the region of €1.3m. As a result the charge of €15 for a half tonne has gone to €20 (with the label code) and from €40 to €45 for a half-tonne at the farm yard. 

Chris acknowledged that the disposal system was one which had taken a little while to get used to, but was now well established and streamlined, with 235 collection points around the country. 

So far this year, the Listowel bring centre collected the most waste with 421 tonnes of plastic deposited.  

For further information on the August collections in West Cork phone: 1890-300444 or see www.farmplastics.ie.