A unique partnership between an environmental research charity, an industry forum and a multi-national corporation has solved a major waste recycling problem for European agriculture. In recognition of this simple but extremely effective innovation the group was presented with a prestigious Environmental Leadership Award from the Chemical Industries Association last week.
The award winning partnership, comprising the GWCT Allerton Project in Leicestershire, the Pesticides Forum and BASF had encountered problems with recycling existing five-litre pesticide containers, which are used widely by the agricultural industry. Working together the group decided to re-design the product so that it would be quicker and safer to recycle, saving both energy costs and landfill space.
When the Eco-Pac was launched across Europe by BASF, it was an immediate success among environmentally-aware farmers and stakeholders. To date 1.2 million containers have been sold in the UK saving 144 tonnes of plastic and making a further 336 tonnes suitable for recycling. The Eco-Pac is used on a wide scale in European markets resulting in considerable savings of plastic and increasing the plastic available for recycling by several thousand tonnes.
Dr Alastair Leake from the GWCT’s Allerton Project, explains how the project came into being, “There was a sudden change in waste law in 2007, which prevented farmers from burying or burning their plastic waste. In response and as an environmental research charity, we offered a greener solution to local farmers by offering them a local recycling centre for a range of plastic farming waste. Unfortunately, there were problems recycling the pesticide containers and as they stood they posed a significant waste issue.”
In response, the GWCT’s Allerton Project, joined forces with the Pesticide Forum and BASF to tackle this issue head-on.
Graham Hartwell, Environmental Stewardship Manager from BASF said, “Existing pesticide containers had numerous problems for those responsible for recycling them and so we set about creating a new design. New technologies meant that the entire container – the handle, screw cap and foam seal and even the label could all be made from recyclable materials without separation. Eco-Pac not only makes it easier for the user it also makes recycling it simpler, faster and safer.”
Chief Executive of the Chemical Industries Association Steve Elliott said, “The 2015 Chemical Industry Awards celebrated the very best of our industry and I believe the very best of business and workforce achievement throughout the UK. All who entered have great stories to tell. Our winners should be very proud of their outstanding achievements.”
The award to BASF, the GWCT Allerton Project and the Pesticide Forum was made in recognition of the company or operating unit that demonstrated excellence in environmental leadership through the development or use of innovative clean technology or products that help reduce the environmental footprint of chemical manufacturing.
Alastair Leake said, “We are delighted to have won this award. It is a huge accolade and shows what can be achieved when three entirely separate organisations work collaboratively to drive European-wide change through the agricultural supply industry and in the process reduce carbon emissions and plastic waste. It has been an absolute privilege to work with both BASF and the Pesticide Forum, whose thirst to get this right was a terrific driving force.”
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Photocaption: Steph McGovern (left) the BBC’s business reporter and Steve Elliot (right), CEO of the Chemical Industries Association presented their Environmental Leadership Award to Dr Geoff Mackey, Sustainable Development and Communications Director BASF Europe North (2nd right) for solving a major waste recycling problem for European agriculture.
Notes to editors
The Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust is an independent wildlife conservation charity which carries out scientific research into Britain’s game and wildlife. We advise farmers and landowners on improving wildlife habitats. We employ 22 post-doctoral scientists and 40 other research staff with expertise in areas such as birds, insects, mammals, farming and statistics. We undertake our own research as well as projects funded by contract and grant-aid from Government and private bodies. The Trust is also responsible for a number of Government Biodiversity Action Plan species and is lead partner for grey partridge and joint lead partner for brown hare and black grouse.
The GWCT’s Allerton Project: The GWCT’s Allerton Project is an 800 acre commercial farm business attached to a Research and Educational charitable trust. The Project was established in 1992 with the objective of demonstrating how modern efficient farming and environmental conservation can co-exist. The development of the education objectives of the Trust has expanded substantially to several thousand visitors a year including school groups, politicians and farmers, thus necessitating the construction of a larger visitor centre. The challenge of converting a disused brick cowshed into a sustainable building was given to architect Sylvester Cheung from Melton Mowbray. 60 per cent of construction costs were obtained as a grant from the Rural Development Programme for England.