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May 13, 2019 / Apley Estate - Hamiltons

Becoming plastic free

Apley Farm Shop is a member of The Farm Retail Association (FRA) & their latest press release is below* about how farm shops are helping their customers become plastic free.

I think the real answer is to massively REDUCE plastic consumption because going plastic free will increase food waste so we’d just be swapping one problem for another.  With that in mind, here are some measures Apley Farm Shop & on the Apley Estate [farming & property] has taken since opening in March 2011 (I’ll be updating this list as I think of more!):

Measures already implemented, in becoming plastic free 
In the Food Hall
We use greaseproof paper for wrapping our cheese
We use brown paper bags for fruit & veg
To carry shopping home, we offer cardboard boxes, paper carrier bags or recyclable plastic carrier bags

In the Creamery Cafe
We use biodegradeable paper take away cups
We use paper straws

In the Playbarn
We use biodegradeable paper plates

Our next steps 
Install dried goods dispensers
Encourage customers to bring & refill their own containers

Our concerns
Plastic can help reduce food waste, therefore reducing plastic in food packaging could increase food waste
As glass is heavier, the costs of transporting glass are higher than for transporting plastic, therefore using more fuel which may offset any environmental benefit of using glass over plastic

Other measures we take to protect our environment
On the whole site
We recycle 90% of our waste which is sorted at our local recycling site, with 4% is used for generating energy
Since opening, we installed a wood chip boiler to heat the whole site & our hot water
We have bike racks & support local walking groups
We plant a tree every year down our exit drive
We use LED bulbs wherever possible

In the Food Hall
We source our products as locally as possible thereby reducing food miles (from the Apley Estate, Shropshire & surrounding counties)

In the Playbarn
We installed solar panels on the playbarn roof

On the Skylark Nature Trail & our Apley Dog Park
We offer nature guides to inform customers on country issues as they walk round our free Skylark Nature Trail

In our Apley Estate farming operations

  • We’ll soon be part of the Countryside Stewardship Scheme
  • We run a Woodland Management Scheme to improve habitats for wildlife
  • We recycle all plastic (ie. all silage wrap etc) – it gets put into bags & then collected when full. Our local recycling company sorts it at their depot. There are some plastics we can’t recycle, eg the net wrap which goes under the outer plastic & currently there is no alternative
  • We buy 180 tonnes of liquid fertiliser in bulk, which saves bags (which are used for hard fertiliser). Storage & delivery
  • Wherever possible, they buy to reduce packaging
  • We use our own seed corn
  • 80% of the [plastic] seed corn bags get reused then recycled

Other ways we make our farming operations ‘greener’

  • We practice ‘Precision’ farming which means lower quantities of pesticides & fertilisers are required – they’re applied only where necessary
  • We use digestate from a local anaerobic digester, which reduces. They use food waste to generate electricity. Whatever is left over (ie their by products) after they’ve generated their electricity is then used by us as fertiliser.
  • We fertilise our arable & grasslands fields with manure from our own cattle herd
  • Our parkland is 100% grassland which is never ploughed. It acts as a huge carbon sink.
  • We practice crop rotation to avoid the build up of pests & diseases, thereby reducing the amount of chemicals we need to apply to our fields
  • We invest in land drainage to improve the soil quality & therefore productivity
  • ‘Min till’ (minimum tillage) saves fuel & reduces machine usage. It’s cheaper & keeps our soils healthier & therefore more productive
  • We use ‘cover crops’ (mixtures of different species – legumes, cereals) in the winter to ensure the maximum possible acreage of ground is covered in the winter months.  As roots decay, they feed the soil fungus & soil microcrobes. These crops also capture nutrients preventing them from being washed away with rainwater. Some deeper rooting species (eg radish) help prevent soil compaction by opening up root courses which then help the next crop to root more easily.
  • Whenever the soil is disturbed, the carbon is oxidized  & released back into the atmosphere

*Press Release: Your local farm shop can help you become plastic free

The Farm Retail Association (FRA) is encouraging the public to shop at Farm Shops and Farmers’ Markets to help them reduce their waste.
Rob Copley, owner of Farmer Copleys in Pontefract and Chair of the FRA said: “A huge number of these farm-to-fork businesses have traditionally had less plastic produce packaging than supermarkets, and many have made an increased effort over the last 12 months. Customers can just choose the produce they want and use paper bags rather than plastic. By reusing produce boxes and egg boxes as well as moving to paper bags, one of our members Minskip Farm Shop in North Yorkshire estimate they have reduced their own waste by 45% since 2017.”

Customers are encouraged to bring their own containers to many farm shops, and some have dried goods dispensers for customers to use. FRA member Milly Stokes at Farndon Fields Farm Shop in
Leicestershire says, “We reuse all our produce boxes for customers to carry their shopping home. We also buy bulk dried goods and display them loose in glass jars, our customers can re-fill their own containers. All our deli counter items are wrapped in brown or greaseproof paper. We have had an overwhelming positive response from customers for our recent changes to 100% eliminating single use plastic.”

Rob Copley agrees: “It is up to retailers to lead the way in reducing waste in store, which makes it easier for customers to reduce their own waste at home. As farmers and retailers, we are all about getting our produce from the field to our customers as quickly as possible and reducing waste along the way is part of our mission.”

For more information visit

For the latest on climate change 

Click HERE to watch (on BBC iplayer) the very alarming BBC programme on Climate Change, the facts, presented by David Attenborough on 19 April 2019. It’s 58 mins & available until 15 May.

Read the article praising the programme HERE.

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