LONDON (Aug. 10, 10 a.m. ET) — Partners in a European Commission-funded project designed to solve problems relating to the recycling of used agricultural film have described its results as “promising.”
The project, whose partners included the United Kingdom's Packaging and Films Association (PAFA), recently completed a research and development program linked to the prototype testing of a new cleaning device which has cut contamination by 65 percent – on the farm or at a collection hub – without the need for washing.
“This could not come at a better time,” said Barry Turner, PAFA's chief executive. “We are just about to start a project in the UK for producers of agricultural film aimed at finding ways to improve the collection rate for these products.
“Agricultural film performs an essential function in modern farming, but we need to resolve the collection and recycling to get a second life out of the polyethylene film,” he said.
The EC funded project has identified how new technology can assist in an area of recycling that has historically high levels of contamination and helped bring together parties across Europe together to share and develop best practice.
It also offers logistical software that can help optimize the efficient collection of used film by agents.
Turner said the next phase would be to exploit the technology. “This will involve selecting the right partners to work with who are capable of taking it to the next stage so we can ensure full commercial exploitation of this breakthrough.”
He added that the project and others would be critical in getting the best utilization of agricultural films, which are playing an increasing role in improving food yields for the future.
Major applications include crop, vegetable and soft fruit protection through greenhouse and crop covers, all of which help to efficiently feed the world's ever-growing population.
A recent survey of farmers revealed what PAFA described as “far too many” still sending their used films to landfill, rather than using existing collection schemes.