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Report: A behavioural approach to supporting farmers in the disposal of agricultural plastics

bales wrapped in black plastic

It is estimated that 135,500 tonnes of farm plastic waste (also known as agri-plastic) is produced every year in the UK, but only some of this is recycled and given a new lease of life.

Some agri-plastic is illegally burnt, releasing toxic chemicals and greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.  And some isn’t stored and secured properly (a legal requirement), eventually making its way into the soil, rivers and seas. All of this contributes to the climate emergency.

In 2021 a Defra behavioural project, part-funded by the Environment Agency as part of the Interreg Preventing Plastic Pollution project, was launched to investigate the reasons behind the statistics and find helpful waste management solutions for farmers.

A full report of the findings is now available to view online

Farmers favoured two interventions. They were:

  1. Recycling Amount Calculator, providing an estimate of how much plastic waste is produced per year
  2. Online Centralised Quotation Form, providing recycling quotes from nearby collectors

Thank you to the many stakeholders (including farmers, NFU, Red Tractor, waste collectors, LEAF, FWAG Southwest and EA and Natural England environment officers) who contributed their time, ideas and evidence.