'The Birch family are now in their 25th year in providing a collection service for waste farm plastics'
In 1989, Peter & Marilyn Birch read an article in the Farmers Weekly magazine regarding a new national scheme for free collection of waste silage film, crop film etc. from farms for recycling by British Polythene Industries (BPI) in Scotland.
On contacting the company to have waste taken from their farm in the Swansea Valley, Peter was told there was no collection agent in the area and was given the opportunity to meet with BPI to discuss becoming an agent.
As a result of that meeting, P & M Birch became agents for the Glamorgan & Gwent area. In 1994, they were then offered the additional area of Dyfed (Carmarthenshire, Cardiganshire and Pembrokeshire) and in 1995 also took over the Powys area. By 1996 the business had also extended into the border counties of Herefordshire & Worcestershire.
In 1997, the national UK scheme ended and collection of waste farm plastics for recycling came to an end. But not in Wales!
Due to the success the Birch family had achieved from the scheme – supplying BPI with half of the total tonnage collected from the whole of the UK – the Environment Agency Wales wanted to see a scheme continuing in Wales. As a result of a meeting with relevant bodies such as the farming Unions, National Parks, Countryside Council for Wales, Environment Agency Wales, Welsh Office, CLA and BPI, a decision was taken to set up a scheme for Wales with the aid of Welsh Office and European Funding.
Christine Gwyther officially launched the scheme in 1999 and with funding available for a two year period, welsh farmers were in a position to have their waste collected for recycling at a subsidised rate, as the scheme covered the whole of Wales.
Despite the disruption of collections due to the foot & mouth outbreak, the business continued to expand and was basically the only company in the UK collecting farm plastic for recycling.
In 2005, Brian & Cheryl Birch (Peter & Marilyn’s eldest son and daughter) took over the helm and Birch Farm Plastics now cover the whole of the UK and Ireland through a network of local collection agents, waste transfer sites, skip hire companies and landfill sites.
Birch Farm Plastics is a selected supplier to BPI. The waste is recycled into a pellet, which is then distributed through various BPI companies for recycling into pit liners, refuse bags etc. It is also recycled into a plastic lumber, which Cheryl Birch’s company, Second Life Products Wales Ltd, uses to manufacture street and garden furniture for sale to Local Authorities, schools and hotels throughout the UK.