Farm plastics piling up as China shuts doors

A COLLAPSE in the export of waste to China has seen “gigantic piles” of farm plastics build up in several locations around the country, with the situation worsening daily.

Tánaiste Simon Coveney conceded last week that the build-up is as a result of the inability of Irish companies to export the plastic to China.

Having imported almost half of the planet‘s plastic recyclables for three decades, China barred the import of most residential waste in 2017, for environmental reasons.

Independent Tipperary TD Michael Lowry warned that a combination of the closure of the exports to China and the non-viability of transfer to other European recycling centres has left alarming stockpiles of plastic in the hands of Irish Farm Film Producers Group (IFFPG) and private businesses.

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He said it is now inevitable that such plastic will have to be exported for recycling, at a considerable loss.

“No Irish recycling facility is equipped to deal with such significant levels of farm plastic recycling,” he said.

“We now have, therefore, an enormous amount of plastic sitting in gigantic piles in several locations around the country. These mountains of plastics are growing daily and have become a threat to the environment. They must be seen to be believed.”

According to Lowry, the classification of farm plastic as amber waste material, which attracts stringent transport requirements and charges, is a key part of the problem.

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Lowry also called on the Government to ensure the equitable distribution of the producers‘ levy among all licensed assemblers and shippers of plastic.

He said IFFPG benefits from 100pc of the levy on all farm plastic, even though it collects only 70pc of the plastic.

Responding to questioning in the Dáil last week Minister Coveney praised farmers and the group that they pay into, the IFFPG.

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“One does not see much in the way of farm plastics being disposed of inappropriately any more,” he said. “The collection hubs and the collections from farm yards work well.

“What has changed in recent months is the ability to export large volumes to China, resulting in large amounts of farm plastics being in storage.

“We need to manage that at home in terms of an increased capacity to recycle the plastic appropriately, which is a viable business.”

Indo Farming

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