Helping farmers put old plastic to good

Waste plastic from East Anglian farms is now being recycled into new products, without leaving the region.

Waste plastic from East Anglian farms is now being recycled into new products, without leaving the region.

Agricultural engineers and plastic-moulding specialists Techneat Engineering is offering farmers a safe and low-cost disposal route for waste plastics and is recycling some of the material.

It is also looking to recruit more potential suppliers at next month's Cereals 2007 at Wendy, near Royston, to add to the existing 250 farms already signed up to have their waste plastics collected and recycled.

Environmental manager Olibhe Collins said the low-cost collection service was a flexible option for growers and met the waste management regulations with which all farmers now had to comply.

Farmers can also deliver plastics direct to the recycling facility in Littleport, near Ely.

Techneat can handle farm plastics from fertiliser and seed bags to net wrap, plastic packaging and plastic spray containers, along with the cardboard packaging.

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"For the East Anglian cycle to be successful, we are dependent on the plastic sourced from farms being clean and carefully segregated," said Mrs Collins.

"Although growers' spraying operations are increasingly busy to cover large acreages in a short time, operators do need to take time to ensure containers are triple rinsed out and stored correctly."

Mrs Collins said one product made from recycled plastic was Techneat's Can-Drain - a self-contained unit to rinse and drain used pesticide containers.

The washings are collected in the plastic tank to be returned to the spray tank, where they can be safely sprayed back onto the crop.

"Thorough washing out of containers is not only better for recycling but it makes economic sense to use all of the valuable product on the intended target, where farmers will get the best results," she added.

It makes other products to help farmers with plastic recycling, including: the ChipPE, to shred and reduce the volume of plastic containers; a Bag-Boxer, to manage seed and fertiliser bags; and low-cost storage bins and bags.

Techneat boss Tom Neat said the company had been using bought-in recycled plastic for moulding into equipment components for years.

"With the establishment of our own recycling business we have closer quality control on precisely what goes into the blend for remixing," he said.

"We have very exacting engineering tolerances on some of the precision plastic moulding, and will be able to assure a higher quality product using a higher proportion of recycled material.

"Partnership is the key to effective recycling. We want to work with local growers to develop a truly sustainable solution for waste plastics, with the lowest possible environmental impact and the lowest costs for our customers."

Mrs Collins said: "It's a complete circle for East Anglian farmers, where the waste plastics they are producing now can be safely and effectively turned back into useful products, with minimal cost to the environment and at the lowest financial cost to them."

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