A FIRM that recycles waste plastics from farms has called for swift action by the government over what it calls a plastic crisis.

Birch Farm Plastics of Swansea says not enough is being done to produce essential plastics that can then be fully recycled and used in UK recycling plants.

It says the situation has now reached a critical point.

"Despite Welsh Government producing figures to illustrate their excellent world ranking for recycling, the truth of the matter is that waste plastic is being stockpiled all along the waste trail from source to collection sites to recycling plants," said company director Cheryl Birch.

"Aiming for targets for the recycling of general waste is now at the cost of recycling agricultural polythene. With other waste being dealt with as a priority, agricultural polythene is no longer sought after for recycling.

"The issue of waste plastic is now constantly in the news – but the situation is deteriorating, with many concerned with ‘achieving targets’ and ‘ticking boxes’, while not willing to acknowledge the real crisis we are in."

Ms Birch said that over the past 30 years, many farmers had cleaned up their farms and chosen to have their waste plastic collected for recycling or delivering to waste transfer stations ready for recycling.

With technological improvements in the manufacture of silage wrap, manufacturers and farmers have even reduced the amount of plastic used.

However the polythene is being stockpiled on sites as there is now only one company within the UK and Europe that can deal with this waste plastic.

"And now after many years, the agricultural polythene is being stock piled on farms and waste transfer sites as the plants are not in the position to take the material in," she added.

She places the blame on some local authorities and private waste companies who were exporting their waste plastics to China, Malaysia and other countries.

With many of these markets now closed, she says UK recycling facilities are now inundated.

"Household plastics are cleaner than agricultural plastics and therefore cheaper to recycle," she said.

"We constantly hear the value of the circular economy. If local authorities/government would support recycling facilities in the UK through legislation, waste supply and purchase of the end recycled products, the current scenario would possibly not be so critical.

With no sustainable market for recycling the agricultural polythene, she fears disposal costs to farmers will increase as thousands of tons of recyclable plastic revert to going into landfill.

"The agricultural industry is now being penalised for cleaning up their waste, which many began even before the 2006 legislation banning burning and burying on farm.

"The onus of disposal costs and recycling costs should not be placed on the farmers."