Scottish farmers no longer allowed to burn farm plastics under exemption

The move will affect silage wrap, crop covers, fertiliser bags and containers
The move will affect silage wrap, crop covers, fertiliser bags and containers

Burning farm plastics and most types of agricultural waste will not be allowed in Scotland under exemption from 1 January 2019.

The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) has announced steps to stem the plastic tide by confirming it will end exemptions for burning most types of agricultural waste.

Whilst a change in Scotland’s environmental regulations in 2013 meant farmers could continue burning plastics only under an exemption, SEPA is moving to reduce the environmental impacts of farm waste.

The move will affect silage wrap, crop covers, fertiliser bags and containers. SEPA has worked with NFU Scotland to roll out the change.

NFU Scotland Vice President, Martin Kennedy visited RPC bpi recycled products in Dumfries, one of the largest polythene film recyclers in Europe, which will help farmers as they join the global challenge to reduce plastic use.

The company has the scope to recycle up to 120,000 tonnes of plastic each year across Europe with plastics, including silage wrap and fertiliser bags, being recycled into refuse sacks and Plaswood lumber, made from 100% recycled plastic.

Plaswood can then be fabricated into products such as boardwalks, fencing, gates and garden furniture as part of a circular economy.

Speaking at RPC bpi recycled products’ site in Dumfries, SEPA’s Gary Walker said: “From 1 January 2019 farmers will no longer be able to burn plastic and most types of agricultural waste and, whilst many farmers have been recycling this type of waste for years, it is important that all farmers take steps now to ensure they are ready.

“By recycling farmers are once more doing their bit for the environment, supporting their local community and helping ensure that plastic materials are kept in use for as long as possible by maximising the value that can be extracted from them.

Mr Walker added: “We will continue to work with farmers over the coming months as we move towards 1 January and SEPA officers are always here to help if farmers have any questions.”

The agency has engaged with NFU Scotland and Zero Waste Scotland to support farmers through a set of online resources, including a list of recyclers who can help farmers get plastic waste sorted.