News and blog News stories [16.02.22] Dorset Tree Guard recycling scheme pilot – sign up today! This March (2022), FWAG SW can help you recycle your used tree guards. The initiative is supported by the Preventing Plastic Pollution team at Queen Mary University of London. The pilot is funded by the Tree Council Network Rail Community Tree Planting grant and the INTERREG funded Preventing Plastic Pollution project. This pilot is open to FWAG SW members and non-members. The service will be available on the 19th March, and the 26th April 2022. Register your interest here. Only by registering will your tree guards be accepted on the day of collection. Those further afield please use the standard FWAG SW Farm Plastic Recycling Scheme. Why pilot a tree guard recycling scheme? Tree planting is being widely adopted to help tackle climate change. Trees can reduce and store greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide) and naturally slow the flow of water and reduce the risk of flooding. To protect trees from herbivores, plastic tree guards are commonly used to ensure the survival of saplings (see advice on use below). However, if they are not removed from the environment once they have served their purpose, plastic tree shelters can become a problem, as they will start to breakdown, eventually turning into microplastics (5mm or smaller). Once tree guards have become microplastics removal becomes near impossible, leading to the permanent contamination of soils posing a potential risk to soil function and wildlife. Furthermore, as many trees are planted to alleviate flooding, microplastics from tree guards have a high likelihood of contaminating water bodies such as ponds, ditches, streams, and rivers eventually making their way into the ocean. By removing tree guards from the environment, the risks of microplastic contamination are avoided and they can even be reused if removed carefully (see advice below). Furthermore, taking steps to recycle tree shelters means they can be converted into new plastic products such as outdoor furniture, plastic containers and even new tree shelters. What we recycle Only shrub nets and tree guards can be recycled, hedge spirals are not recyclable and will not be accepted. Canes/Stakes must be removed from the tree guards Cable ties can be recycled with the guards Guards must be free of soil and vegetation Guards from different manufacturers must be separated into different dumpy or solway bags If we find evidence of contamination, we will not be able to accept the material for recycling. Accepted Accepted NOT Accepted What do you do with your spent tree guards? We understand that dealing with used tree guards is difficult. We, therefore, want to ask how people are currently disposing of their used tree guards. By understanding the demand and need for recycling schemes within Dorset and beyond, we hope to secure future funding to continue the FWAG Tree Guard Recycling. Please fill out this short Q&A, to help us gather this information by following the link. If you have any questions or require further information, then please contact . Additional Resources and Guides The Forestry Commission provide a handy guide on appropriate use and management of tree shelters here. To access information on how to care for trees in the short, medium and long-term, the Woodland Trust provide advice here. To remove a tree guard correctly to prevent shattering and enable reuse take a look at Andrew Gray’s how to video here. Please get in touch with Neve Bray via [email protected] or 07428106140 to discuss further.