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Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane hails from a sixth-generation drystock and specialised pedigree suckler enterprise in Co. Mayo. She currently holds the positions of editor and general manager at That's Farming, having joined the firm during its start-up phase in 2015.
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Farmers recycle plastic from 18m silage bales

According to the Irish Farm Films Producer’ Group (IFFPG), Irish farmers achieved a record 90% recycling rate for farm plastics in 2021.

In doing so, farmers recycled the equivalent of plastic from 18 million silage bales.

The group collected the majority of this plastic at over 200 bring-centres, which it held throughout the summer at marts, co-ops and agri-merchant premises.

Farm plastics 

According to the group, this also boosted the circular economy objectives in Ireland.

It supplied over one-third of collected material to Irish recyclers for processing into a range of new products.

In total, 37,000 tonnes of silage wrap and pit cover waste was recycled in 2021, 3,000 tonnes more than in 2020 which was also a record year.

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The group stated listed the following reasons for record levels of recycling can be attributed:

  • A growing farm plastics market largely due to the abolition of the milk quota;
  • Ever-increasing numbers of farmers engaging in recycling.

According to the group, for the average farmer, who produces 300 bales of silage, the total recycling cost is approximately €60.

Meanwhile, the average distance to their local bring-centre is only 11 km.

A spokesperson said: “These factors, as well as a desire by farmers to be environmentally responsible, have resulted in the recycling rate for farm plastics being consistently the highest for any plastic waste stream in the country.”

IFFPG, the national farm plastics compliance scheme, coordinates farm plastics recycling in Ireland.

The not-for-profit body has recycled over 400,000 tonnes of this waste since its establishment in 1998.

The farm plastics industry and farmers fund the scheme, which has the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications’ approval.

As highlighted above, last year, IFFPG supplied one-third of what it collected to two Irish recycling facilities:

  • ADN Materials in Carrickmacross;
  • Sabrina Integrated Services (SIS) in Littleton.

Ms Ciara Carolan, a director with ADN Materials, said:

“In 2021, the company recycled 6,000 tonnes of farm plastics waste into pellets for sale to manufacturers of new plastic products such as refuse sacks and garden furniture.”

“We are currently upgrading their facility to recycle even more farm plastics waste this year,” Carolan concluded.

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