Plastic containers help to ensure that plant protection products are delivered safely to the end user and also help to protect the user during application. But in Lithuania, there is still no unified system for collecting and handling the containers. This means that plastic pesticide and biopesticide containers are neither systematically collected nor then recycled.
CropLife Europe and its members have committed to establishing dedicated container management systems in all EU countries by 2025. To work towards this objective, the Lithuanian Plant Protection Association recently organized a stakeholder conference, bringing together decision-makers from the Lithuanian Ministry of Environment and Ministry of Agriculture, national parliamentarians, scientists, farmers, waste operators, and external consultants.
"A small but very important part of the plastic waste pie"
The EU has set a target of 55% recycling of plastic waste by 2030. Meanwhile, our industry aims to go further and faster by establishing an average 75% collection rate of plastic pesticide containers across the EU by 2025.
Welcoming the industry's commitment to and leadership in driving forward solutions, Lithuanian Vice Minister of the Environment Raminta Radavičienė said: "Plant protection product packaging constitutes a small but very important part of the plastic waste pie." She continued: "Collecting packaging waste generated on the farm is complex as it depends on the cooperation of different interest groups, producers, and policymakers."
While the contamination of properly rinsed containers with pesticide residues is only 0.01%, this still means that their secondary use is specific. With recycling rates across EU countries with a dedicated container management scheme above 83% in 2021, used plastic pesticide and biopesticide containers are being transformed into road barriers, traffic cones, nozzles, wire and cable sheaths, and other items.
A global initiative
Dedicated container management systems for plastic pesticide and biopesticide packaging have been set up in every corner of the world. In more than 50 countries worldwide, from Argentina to South Korea, South Africa to Finland, programs of varying levels of maturity are currently in place.
In the EU, Lithuania is one of only seven countries to not have established a container management system. CropLife Europe Consultant, Steven Byrde, told participants: "It takes time to get a program up to speed. In France, the level of collection of containers is already 90%. Their goal is to reach 100% within the next decade. Lithuania's goal, once a system is set up, could be 75% in 10 years time."
There are exceptions. In Bulgaria, collection rates reached 80% within three years of the system being established. "We saw an exceptional level of motivation and collaboration in Bulgaria," said Mr. Byrde. "Collection operators, policymakers, manufacturers, and of course, farmers all worked together to make this happen. Bulgaria also has predominantly large farms, which helps logistically with the collection."
CropLife Europe and its members aim to organize and support Container Management System conferences and workshops over the coming years to drive forward a more circular economy for plastics.
Find out more about CropLife Europe's 2030 commitments here.
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