Responding to the publication of the Government’s Resources and Waste Strategy, in which the government has laid out plans to make manufacturers pay for the recycling or disposal of all packaging, NFU Vice President Stuart Roberts said: “It is encouraging to see the strategy reiterate that the Government is seeking powers in the Agriculture Bill to protect farmers and growers from exposure to unfair trading practices, such as late changes to product specifications, which can see perfectly good food go to waste.
“Data will play an important part in helping to reduce waste but we have concerns that the powers in the Agriculture Bill are too wide and without proper explanation of what this data will be used for.
“Another major issue is large-scale, industrial fly-tipping. The NFU has been calling for a targeted approach to tackling waste crime and the introduction of a Joint Unit for Waste Crime is welcome news. It is imperative that farmers are involved during the development of this unit to ensure it is fit for purpose.
“If the Government is to tackle waste crime, there need to be effective deterrents and we support the strategy’s proposal to strengthen intelligence-sharing to tackle illegal activity, including tougher penalties for criminals who dump waste on farmland, blighting our countryside.
“Unfortunately, the strategy is very vague regarding agricultural plastic. While the government has committed to explore options, it is time to see solutions. This could be increasing the number of domestic outlets available for farm plastic recycling or investing in cleaning facilities to improve the contamination levels of plastic.
“We remain committed to engaging with the government on its strategy and we will continue to work with Defra, the Environment Agency and others in the supply chain on these issues.”