Press release

Summary of responses to consultation on proposals on non-packaging agricultural plastics published

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Summary of responses to a consultation on a possible producer responsibility scheme for non-packaging agricultural plastics (NPAP) published.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, along with the Welsh Assembly Government and the Scottish Government today published the summary of responses to a consultation on a possible producer responsibility scheme for non-packaging agricultural plastics (NPAP) and announced that they will not be proceeding with a statutory collection scheme.

Each year 45,000 tonnes of NPAP, such as silage wrap fleece plant jackets, mulch film and polytunnel and horticultural covers, is sold in the UK. Once used it creates around 85,000 tonnes of waste plastic, mainly due to contamination by soil which makes it more difficult to recycle. In 2004/2005, as part of the work on introducing the Agricultural Waste Regulations, Defra consulted on how best to increase the amount of waste non-packaging agricultural plastic that is recycled, and the responses supported work to develop a statutory producer responsibility scheme for the collection of this waste for farmers.

In developing these options, Defra worked closely with Advisory Group on Farm Plastics (AGFP) and the Agricultural Waste Programme, who were set up in 2005 to look at the costs and benefits of a scheme and the structure of a possible system.

In December 2009, Defra published a consultation jointly with the Welsh Assembly Government and the Scottish Government, which sought views on whether a statutory producer responsibility scheme was required, and if so, which of the options was preferred. The options from this consultation included;

  • no Government intervention was needed;
  • that a statutory producer responsibility on-farm collection scheme would be introduced
  • an introduction of a statutory producer responsibility scheme with free-at-the-point-of-use collection points.

The consultation closed last February and took account of current market developments, varying views on the levels of recycling levels of this waste stream, the awareness of farmers and the levels to which they dispose of this waste legally and the increasing availability of collection services throughout the UK. Ministers have decided that no Government intervention is needed, a view supported by the majority of responses to the consultation as the scheme would cover only a small waste stream and the costs and administrative burden on businesses of any scheme could be disproportionate to the environmental benefits that would be achieved.

To view the publication of the summary of responses please use the following link archive.defra.gov.uk/corporate/consult/agri-plastics/index.htm

Notes

The consultation attracted 41 responses from businesses and trade associations and local authorities.  The vast majority of respondents (28) did not wish to see any Government intervention.

  • 28 responses supported Option A: Business as usual, no Government intervention
  • One supported Option B: Introduction of a statutory producer responsibility on-farm collection scheme;
  • Nine supported Option C: Introduction of a statutory producer responsibility scheme with free-at-the-point-of-use collection points.
  • One supported producer responsibility in principle, and opted for both option B and C
  • Two did not state a preference.

Prior to the introduction of the Agricultural Waste Regulations (AWR) in 2006, approximately 80% of agricultural plastic waste products were disposed of by burning or burying on farms.

Farm plastics is a generic term used to describe a variety of plastics used by agricultural businesses.  There are two sub-groups of farm plastics: Plastic Packaging, and Non-Packaging Agricultural Plastics (NPAP).

The full membership list for the industry-led Advisory Group on Farm Plastics (AGFP) include representatives from; the National Farmers’ Union (NFU), Norvic/Unterland/Mondi, British Polythene Industries, Total Polyfilm Ltd, Tubex Ltd, Singleton Agriculture, Agritel, Norvic, UAT Ltd, UPU Industries, Capatex, Linpac, Biffpac, CIWM (EB), Defra, Scottish Government, Welsh Assembly Government, Department for Business, Industry and Skills, Department of Environment Northern Ireland, VALPAK, Environment Agency, Scottish Environment Protection Agency.

On 15 June 2010, the Secretary of State for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs the Rt Hon Caroline Spelman MP announced that the Government would undertake a full review of waste policy. It will cover all aspects of waste policy and delivery in England.