Up to 50,000t of farm plastics are lying in yards at five or six locations around the country and it is not being recycled, the chair of the Oireachtas agriculture committee Jackie Cahill has said.

“There is a significant stockpile of uncollected plastic in farmyards. We know there are yards with a significant tonnage of plastic piled high that has not been collected, even though the farmer has paid a levy on it at the point of purchase and the point of collection,” he told the committee last week.

He added that the committee feels that “this is a serious environmental issue”.

Minister of State with responsibility for the environment, climate and communications Ossian Smyth told the committee meeting that the Irish Farm Films Producers Group (IFFPG) are in compliance as “they meet the [terms of the] permits issued to them as waste collectors”.

IFFPG is adhering to environmental law and local authority conditions, the minister said.

“There may be unsightly piles of plastic,” he said. However, the minister added that “the question is about whether they are in compliance within the context of what they are legally permitted to do”.

Local authorities

Minister Smyth also mentioned that the relevant local authorities said that “all the relevant yards are in compliance” as of Wednesday 15 May.

“Department or Government is not keeping track of exactly how much plastic is in each yard every day of the year. What we are looking at is how much plastic has been produced and how much has been recycled,” Minister Smyth said.

Scheme changes

The minister also highlighted that the IFFPG recycling scheme “needs to be regularly reviewed” and that his Department is “doing a midterm review of where that organisation is”.