He may have been one of the first to offer a farm plastics collection service, but Ian Kitson has never taken his client base for granted, continuing instead to focus on delivering the most customer-focused and cost-effective service in the South East.
Kitson Recycling collects waste plastics of all kinds from farms across the region, offering a bespoke, competitive service to the customer while helping the industry turn the waste materials back into new products.
The service helps farmers comply with legislation and meet increasingly important Farm Assurance criteria without the time-consuming need to deliver their waste plastics to a collection point.
And since Kitson Recycling also collects old tyres as well as other hazardous waste – a rare service these days – Ian and his team can be seen as a one-stop-shop for keeping farms safe, tidy and compliant.
Ian, whose background is in farm contracting and recycling, spotted the business opportunity in 2006 while managing the agricultural operations for a company that was spreading sewage sludge.
“I saw legislation that was coming into force the following year that would require farmers to dispose of their plastics in a responsible way and keep an audit trail of what happened to them. With a background in recycling and farming I decided to set up a company that would help farmers comply with the new legislation and meet Farm Assurance standards. The rest is history,” he explained.
“The market has matured and there are now two or three national organisations doing something similar, but they don’t all collect from the farm, some of them levy an annual charge and none of them collects tyres and the range of other waste material that we are happy to pick up at the same time.”
Kitson Recycling works with Solway Recycling to keep waste material out of landfill and see it reused in new products. Farmers buy a Solway bin and liners, fill individual liners with sorted plastic waste – silage wrap, polythene feed bags, baler twine and the like – and ring Ian when they need it collected.
There is no annual fee and after buying the Solway bin clients simply pay a fee for each liner collected, in many cases once a year. A recent addition to the materials that can be recycled is old polytunnel plastic and polystyrene, again something that sets Kitson Recycling apart.
Other materials that the team will also collect at the same time include workshop and hazardous waste, oils and oil filters, redundant agrochemicals, shotgun cartridges and old veterinary medicines and syringes.
“We offer the complete service because that’s what farmers are looking for,” Ian explained. “They are busy people and if we can help them tackle several jobs at the same time, it makes life easier for them and also protects the environment by ensuring these waste products are dealt with responsibly. Getting that waste transfer note is increasingly important when buyers are looking closely at the environmental credentials of farmers and growers.”
Apart from the fact that sending waste plastics to landfill would cost farmers more, using the recycling service means they know that they are contributing to a better world. The collected plastics are baled, reprocessed back into raw material and used by Solway Recycling and other UK-based plastics manufacturers to create new, useful products.
Kitson Recycling operates two collection lorries and can usually reach customers within a week. The company also has a four-by-four vehicle and trailer for accessing more difficult locations. “The service works for farms of all sizes,” Ian stressed.
Ian was also one of the driving forces behind the Green Tractor Scheme, a national organisation set up in 2020 that brought together UK farm plastic collectors with the aim of keeping standards high and providing assurance to farmers.