Full ban set for burning plastics

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The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) has announced its next steps to stem the plastic tide by confirming it will end exemptions for burning most types of agricultural waste from January 1 2019.

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

The move, which will affect silage wrap, crop covers, fertiliser bags and containers, follows extensive engagement between SEPA and Zero Waste Scotland. Ending the exemption will not only align with the legal requirement for all Scottish businesses to present plastics and other items separately for collection, but will help boost the Scottish market for recycled plastics.

One Scottish company is recycling 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.

SEPA, NFU Scotland and Zero Waste Scotland have developed a simple set of resources for Scottish farmers, including a list of Scottish recyclers who stand ready to help farmers get plastic waste sorted. Further information is available from www.sepa.org.uk/farmplastics.

SEPA’s Gary Walker said: ‘From January 1 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.’