The farming industry plays a pivotal role in supporting life on earth, producing food and raw materials that are essential to our survival. However, many of the processes that need to happen to keep the industry operating are having a detrimental effect on the planet, and whilst sustainable agriculture is becoming more prevalent, there is still a lot left to be done.
One area that’s of key importance in the long-term protection of our planet is managing plastic waste – an issue which has only been made worse by the pandemic. With the rapid rise in demand for personal protective equipment, we saw a spike in the levels of plastic waste, with improper disposal of these items exacerbating the planet’s environmental headache.
In addition to any PPE, plastic has many more uses across the farming sector, from the packaging your feed comes to the plastic wrap you use to cover hay bales. And it’s easy for waste to build up over time – but what can you do about it? Reducing your farm’s plastic waste is easier than you might think. In this post, we’ll offer some advice and practical suggestions around how you can manage and ultimately reduce plastic waste on your farm.
Before thinking about how we can better manage the waste that we do produce, it’s important first to consider ways we can reduce the amount we create in the first place. This can be achieved by reducing plastic use and replacing it with other materials.
Firstly, you could consider using recycled plastic products. This includes using recycled plastic fencing, mulch film, and irrigation piping. Another way to reduce plastic use is to choose products that can be reused or recycled. For example, instead of using plastic wrap to cover hay bales, use a tarp that can be reused multiple times.
Finally, consider alternatives to plastic products altogether. For example, use metal cans or glass bottles instead of plastic containers. By making a few simple changes, it’s possible to reduce the amount of plastic waste on a farm significantly.
Whenever possible, you should be looking to use and reuse packaging and shipping materials. This includes everything from plastic bags to bubble wrap. If an item doesn’t need to be shipped in new packaging, why not reuse some that have already been used? If you have leftover bubble wrap or packing peanuts from a previous shipment, hang onto them – you can use them again later. Not only will this save you money, it’ll also reduce the amount of waste your farm produces.
There are also an increasing amount of environmentally-friendly packaging options that could negate the need for plastic packaging altogether. Consider whether you could replace your existing materials with any eco alternatives, and you’ll instantly be helping to reduce your farm’s plastic waste.
Though it will require slightly more effort on your part, there are so many opportunities to recycle any plastic that’s no longer useful on your farm. Plastic feed bags, chemical containers and plastic film can all be recycled using special schemes that target farms to help reduce the impact of single-use plastics in the industry.
However, there are certain laws and regulations to be aware of when it comes to recycling any agricultural products. Before committing to any recycling schemes, ensure you’re clued up on these policies to avoid incurring any penalties.
Reducing your farm’s plastic waste is important not just for the environment – it’s also good for your bottom line. By reusing packaging and shipping materials, recycling what you can, and using alternative materials, you’ll save money and reduce your farm’s impact on the environment. So why not start today? Your farm, and the planet, will thank you for it.
Photo by Lisa Fotios