Bord na Móna has opened a new plastic recycling facility at its disused briquette factory in Littleton, Co Tipperary, in association with Chinese company, Sabrina.

Farm waste such as used silage wrap and pit covers will form the bulk of its business when it starts production next month.

The initial capacity of 24,000t/year is an almost exact match for the 28,000t of farm plastics collected last year.

The Irish Farm Film Producers Group (IFFPG), which runs bring centres for farmers around the country, is in talks with Bord na Móna to set a price for recycling at the factory.

“It will improve the competition, it will improve the capacity in Ireland and, as a result, I would expect that the costs will go down,” IFFPG chair Tom Dunne told the Irish Farmers Journal, describing the development as “great news”.

Meanwhile, he added that demand for recycled plastic was forecast to grow.

“That should mean that the plastic is worth more, therefore the cost for recycling and the cost for the farmer should reduce,” he said. “We’re a not-for-profit so if there is a surplus this year, it will be given back next year.”

Minister for Environment Richard Bruton said that seven out of 10 pieces of farm plastic in Ireland are currently recycled.

“Obviously we’re keen to push that up from 70%, but up to now, a lot of that material would have been exported. Now we have a plant here in Littleton,” he said.

It will carry out all operations including washing, shredding and extruding used films.

Sabrina was recycling imported plastic waste in China until the country banned that trade in 2017

“It’s like spaghetti coming out and it is chopped into pellets,” said Bord na Móna director of operations Anthony Brohan.

These can then be used to make a range of packaging products.

Sabrina was recycling imported plastic waste in China until the country banned that trade in 2017 – the same year the Littleton briquette factory closed with the loss of around 100 jobs.

The Chinese company is now moving to treat this waste at source, and 40 people have been re-hired on the two recycling lines already in place pending plans for expansion.

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