Field Notes: Rubbish or resource?

Skye Conservation Officer Cathryn Baillie reports on a pilot scheme for recycling the local community's agricultural plastic waste

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Every year, tonnes of agricultural plastic waste is buried, burned or blows away in the wind. Not only is this bad news for the environment, but it is also a terrible waste of resources. Much of this plastic can be recycled into re-useable items like park benches and much more.

We estimate that over 20 tonnes of agricultural plastics end up in landfill, each year on Skye. There are currently no realistic alternatives for anyone who wants to have a more ethical approach to their waste disposal.

With this in mind, the John Muir Trust is delighted to take part in a pilot scheme to try and address the issue. A grant of £1,200 from the Scottish Government’s Community Climate Asset Fund has enabled us to buy several recycling bins to help the Sconser, Torrin and Strathaird crofting communities to reduce local carbon emissions through recycling agricultural plastic waste.

The plan is to sort and store the community's plastic at Strathaird Farm until we have enough to merit transporting it for recycling. There are various locations across Scotland where the waste could be recycled and when the time comes. We will research the carbon footprint of each option carefully before deciding how and where it will be transported. It would be even better, of course, if our actions could create opportunities for new businesses, we would encourage and support anyone who could use the resource locally and would welcome a small-scale reprocessing plant on the island.

Solway bins at Strathaird Farm

Our new Solway Recycling bins (pictured above) arrived this week and we are looking forward to making a positive difference to our crofting tenants and the local environment. We hope our small scheme will inspire others to take similar action to help address the climate emergency we are facing.

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Photo by Jen Derr shows baled silage at the Trust's Strathaird Farm on Skye.