MOUNTAINS of plastic waste are building up on UK farms, and the problem is only going to get worse.

It is estimated that 85,000 tonnes of plastic is used every year in UK agriculture, and since 2006, farms in England and Wales have been banned from burning or burying their waste.

But a recent ban on imports for plastic recycling in China has led to a bottleneck for many exporters, with a knock-on effect for farmers, who aren’t having their waste collected.

The Far East usually imports 40% of the UK's farm plastic waste, but recycling companies there are instead choosing to import cleaner non-farming waste.

Compounding the problem, earlier this month Scotland legislated its own farm plastics burning ban, and without the means to shift this material, it is now building up on farms throughout the country.

Talking about the issue on the BBC's Countryfile programme, farmer Jonathon Jones, who runs a mixed arable and dairy farm in South Wales, said: “We've had a really good system in place since the 1990’s, where a company would come in and remove all of our waste, but now they have stopped coming and have said they have too much in their own yard.

“I’ve enquired with two other local companies who said if they picked it up, it would end up in land fill, which is just a step backwards,” he stressed.

Farmers have a legal duty to dispose of their waste but with recycling companies bringing in material quicker than they can export it, a bottle neck is being created. The need for a new waste management regime could mean a tax on plastic producers or a levy scheme for farmers who use plastic in their operations.

The Scottish Conservatives have called for action to avoid stockpiling of plastic waste on Scottish farms. Peter Chapman MSP has written to government agency Scottish Environment Protection Agency to ask what advice and policies are in place to help farmers.

Mr Chapman said: “England and Wales are 13 years ahead of Scotland with the ban on burning plastic – and it is clear to see that plastic is being stockpiled because there is no market.

“The ban in China has led to a bottleneck for many exporters, while countries like Malaysia and Vietnam want cleaner plastic for recycling – not the dirty, foul smelling waste from farms,” he explained.

“It is imperative that Scotland puts a plan in place to prevent the same build-up of farm waste in our countryside. I have written to SEPA and tabled parliamentary questions at Holyrood seeking clarity on behalf of farmers,” he continued.

“They need to know what the advice is, what policies are in place and how Scottish recycling firms can be supported to process this waste rather than exporting it. This is a big issue that needs to be addressed urgently,” he stressed.