The following is a Press Release published in Farmers Weekly on 5th February 2016:
Farmers should be careful to dispose of their waste plastic in accordance with the law or risk huge fines, following the conviction of a business in Oxfordshire.
Since 2006 farmers have been required to dispose of their waste plastic through a licensed business, yet many are still illegally burying or burning waste on-farm, or unwittingly using unlicensed carriers, says Mark Webb, director of recycling firm Farm XS.
“By flouting the rules, farmers lay themselves open to fines of up to £50,000, plus legal costs,” he warns. “In addition, they may have to cover the costs of any environmental clean-up, which could be astronomical.”
Mr Webb’s warning comes after a business in Oxfordshire was fined £20,000 plus costs for illegally storing, treating and burning waste at Chowle Farm, Faringdon. The firm was prosecuted for operating a skip hire business illegally from the site, and allowing the disposal of large quantities of tyres.
“All farmers have a duty of care to ensure the person they give their waste to is licensed and deals with it properly,” says Mr Webb. “Make sure you see a copy of the license and receive a waste transfer note – this will be checked by farm assurance schemes.”
Farmers dealing with their own waste require a farm waste exemption, and if they are transporting it will also need a lower tier waste carriers license, adds Mr Webb. “The Environment Agency is clamping down on unregistered waste carriers, and stopped 71 vehicles in Operation Salamandar in the South East of England in just one day last month. Of those, 26 face possible prosecution for duty of care offences.”
Although farmers’ margins are under intense pressure right now, the cost of waste disposal does not have to be prohibitive. Farm XS charges a membership fee of less than £1/acre for an average size farm for plastic recycling, with no weight fees on top, says Mr Webb. “Taken in context of a possible £50,000 fine – on top of the environmental damage caused by illegal activities – it’s madness for farmers to risk falling foul of the law.”