Farm plastic at centre of Hogan-Lowry meeting

A new plan for the 20,000 tonnes-plus of Irish farm plastic recycled per year was the topic of the controversial meeting between Environment Minister Phil Hogan and Michael Lowry, TD — which took place six days after the Moriarty Report branded Mr Lowry as corrupt.

The meeting between Minister Phil Hogan and members of his staff with Mr Lowry and representatives of Filmco Ltd took place on Mar 28, 2011. Jack and Edmund O’Reilly of Filmco outlined to Minister Hogan their plans for a project as part of the Government-approved national scheme to recover waste farm plastic. They explained that their company built a premises in 2007 to wash farm plastics, which they assumed would be supplied from farms at a certain gate fee.

Instead, the recycling industry found a less costly way to deal with the waste.

The minister told the Filmco delegation he had no power to direct waste to particular facilities.

He said he was reviewing waste policy, and invited Filmco to make a submission to his department.

In 2011, Filmco has also complained to ex-Environment Minister John Gormley, the Ombudsman, and the Environmental Protection Agency about export of dirty plastic. The O’Reillys warned that 20 jobs at Filmco were at immediate risk, due to exports of dirty farm plastics.

They said the total investment in the Filmco project was €6 million.

They warned that unwashed farm plastic, of which 30,000 tonnes are generated annually in Irish agriculture, could spread contagious animal diseases.

Each year depots are opened in every county where farmers can bring plastic, as part of Ireland’s only government licensed recycling compliance scheme, the not-for-profit IFFPG scheme funded by a levy on all silage plastic that scheme members sell, plus a weight-based collection fee charged to farmers (who could lose EU payments if their farms are deemed untidy).

IFFPG chairman Michael Slattery says one third of Ireland’s recycled farm plastic is partially cleaned here in Ireland, some is recycled fully in Ireland, and he hopes all the plastic can be recycled fully here within the next few years. He said IFFPG prefers recycling within Ireland, but it must be competitively priced. Meanwhile, this year’s IFFPG plastic bring centres will open later this month and will be busy through the summer.

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