Dáil Éireann - Volume 626 - 07 November, 2006

Written Answers. - Farm Waste Management.

Mr. Crawford asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food the action farmers, who signed up for REPS, are supposed to take regarding the plastic on their farms; if her attention has been drawn to the fact that these farmers had already paid for collection of the waste plastic as part of the original purchase price; if her further attention has been drawn to the implications for farmers under the good farming practice; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [36285/06]

  Mary Coughlan: The disposal of waste materials generally is covered by the Waste Management Acts 1996 to 2005, which apply to all sectors of society including the agricultural sector, and is a matter for the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government. Under the Waste Management (Farm Plastics) Regulations 2001, manufacturers and importers of farm plastics, that is, silage bale wrap and sheeting, are required to take steps to recover farm plastics waste which they have placed on the market, or alternatively to contribute to and participate in compliance schemes to recover the waste in question. The Irish Farm Film Producers Group (IFFPG) is currently the sole approved body in Ireland for the purposes of implementing a compliance scheme for the recovery of farm plastics waste. Under the IFFPG scheme, producers apply a levy on the sale of farm plastics that in turn is transferred to the IFFPG for use in funding the collection and recovery of farm plastics waste. The Waste Management (Farm Plastics) Regulations are a matter for the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, and my Department has no involvement in the running of the IFFPG scheme.

I am aware that the IFFPG scheme has lacked sufficient resources to satisfy the demand that existed for collections of farm plastics. Therefore, following discussions with the IFFPG, farming [2062] organisations and local authorities, last May, the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, Deputy Roche, announced amendments to the scheme to support improved services to farmers. Under the new arrangements, the scheme is being funded by a combination of the existing levies paid by the producer members of IFFPG who run the scheme and funding from weight based collection charges to be paid by farmers availing of the service. I have been informed that the effect of the new arrangements will be to ensure that the farm plastics collection service provided by the IFFPG to farmers can match the demand on an ongoing basis.

I understand from my colleague, Minister Roche, that, to address the issue of accumulated backlogs of farm plastic, designated facilities are being provided on a temporary, once-off basis by local authorities where farmers may deposit stockpiled farm film plastic and silage wrap. This service, which operated on a pilot basis in some counties during the summer, is free to the farmer and funding to assist the local authorities is being made available from the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government through the Environment Fund. The scheme is being rolled out to other counties on a staggered basis and I have been informed that announcements regarding further extensions of collections to other areas will follow completion of the collections in those counties taking part in the recently announced second phase of the scheme.

Participants in REPS are required to avail of a recycling collection facility (such as the IFFPG scheme) where one exists, and to store such waste plastics neatly and safely on the farm pending disposal. This advice is applicable to all farmers, whether they are in REPS or not. Officials of my Department who carry out on-farm inspections have been made aware that some farmers, for reasons outside their control, do not currently have access to the IFFPG scheme.