Farmers warned to dispose of agricultural waste responsibly – or face legal action

Over 135,000 tonnes of waste plastic is generated by the UK agricultural sector each year – and farmers could face legal action if they’re found to be disposing of it improperly.

The Environment Agency has warned that farming companies who fail to follow efficient, ethical refuse management guidelines will be fined: even if they’re relying on a third party to get rid of unwanted materials.

As the regulator clamps down on bad disposal practices, it’s vital that farmers work with a commercial waste management company they can trust to do the job properly and can prove their operational credentials.

Illegal agricultural waste export is on the rise

Farming waste is a major national issue. Around 1.5% of the UK’s plastic refuse comes directly from agriculture, and unwanted packaging from this sector is often contaminated with dirt, chemicals and animal matter.

While many farmers dispose of their waste responsible, the Environment Agency is intercepting an increasing volume destined for illegal export.

Some agricultural companies may not even be aware that their refuse is being handled improperly, as they’re handing it over to a waste management company who is failing to follow best practice guidelines. For example, some service providers have been fraudulently claiming packaging export recovery notes against non-packaging materials.

The Environment Agency is warning that farmers have a legal duty to make sure their commercial waste management partner is acting responsibly – or they could face a severe financial penalty. It has even set up a Waste Compliance Taskforce (WACT) to tackle the UK’s illegal waste export issue.

So, how can farmers avoid running the risk of being fined? The answer lies in forming a trusted partnership with an expert in ethical commercial and environmental waste disposal.

Choosing a responsible waste management provider

If you’re an agricultural company concerned about the way your waste is being managed, there are some simple steps you can take for greater peace of mind.

The first is to look at how your agricultural refuse is currently being managed. Are you doing it in-house? Now might be the time to start outsourcing it. Are you working with a third-party waste management company? Then you need to check they’re following government guidelines.

The second step is to speak to your waste management partner about how they manage and document waste disposal processes.

Whether you’re starting from scratch or validating your waste management company’s current practices, make sure whoever you partner with is:

  • Registered to broker, deal or carry waste
  • Has obtained advance permission from the Environment Agency and relevant overseas authorities before exporting agricultural waste
  • Manages waste in a way that protects natural habitats
  • Has documentation to show they are disposing of waste legally, responsibly and with due care for the environment

A market-leading commercial waste management service provider will be able to demonstrate well-coordinated disposal processes and show you a clear audit trail, to prove they are following government guidelines. And they could even help you to lower the cost and carbon footprint of agricultural waste management, by coordinating the process through online software.

Companies rely on Whitespace for commercial waste management

Up and down the country, Whitespace is helping companies improve the way they dispose of unwanted materials through our commercial waste management software.

We empower commercial waste organisations to simplify waste management processes, drive efficiencies from end-to-end, and provide clear visibility over when, how and where agricultural refuse is disposed of.

Companies using our software are able to show in real-time how waste management services are progressing, and plan collection routes and disposal methods that are both ethical and cost-effective. Plus, the whole process is paperless, proving much better for the environment.


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