Pioneering Sustainability: Yorkshire’s Revolutionary Plastic Tree Guard Recycling Initiative

in Yorkshire Dales

In an innovative push towards environmental sustainability, Yorkshire Dales National Park has seen the expansion of the UK’s first plastic tree guard recycling project. Launched by the Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust (YDMT) alongside the Forest Plastics Working Group, this initiative addresses a critical waste issue in forestry by recycling plastic tree guards used in woodland management.

A Circular Approach to Environmental Conservation

Plastic tree guards, widely used in reforestation efforts to protect young trees, pose a significant environmental problem once they outlive their utility. Historically, these guards would degrade into microplastics, contaminating soil and water systems. Recognising this, the YDMT, with various stakeholders, devised a plan not only to remove these plastics from the environment but also to repurpose them for future use.

In its inaugural year, the initiative successfully reclaimed nearly 100,000 tree shelters from 48 woodlands across the Yorkshire Dales. The success of this program is evident in its expansion from two to 22 recycling hubs nationwide, signaling a robust commitment to sustainable forestry practices.

Local Hubs Drive the Recycling Effort

The strategy is simple yet effective. Landowners, organizations, and the public are encouraged to bring used plastic tree guards to designated recycling hubs. The first of these hubs will open at the Craven Auction Mart in Skipton, with other locations scheduled throughout the year.

Mike Appleton, YDMT Woodland Officer, highlights the importance of this initiative:

“Participating in this scheme helps prevent the eventual disintegration of these plastics into harmful fragments. Moreover, it aligns with the UK Forestry Standard’s requirements to clear out all types of shelters at their end of use.”

Partnerships Pave the Way

The scheme’s success is largely due to the collaborative efforts of the Forest Plastics Working Group and various partners including Tubex, which specializes in recycling these materials. This group comprises diverse stakeholders like the Woodland Trust, National Trust, and governmental bodies across the UK and Ireland, all united by a common goal to mitigate the environmental impacts of plastic used in forestry.

Continuous Growth and Future Goals

The recycling hubs have become a cornerstone of this initiative, offering multiple opportunities for community involvement and environmental stewardship. “Last year, we collected 350,000 shelters, and while that’s a significant number, there’s still more work to be done,” adds Mike.

As the initiative grows, the ultimate aim is to foster a more sustainable, circular economy that not only protects the young saplings but also preserves the broader environmental integrity for future generations.

Final Points

parThe YDMT and its partners continue to work tirelessly to promote sustainable practices in woodland management. By turning a critical environmental problem into a sustainable resource, they are setting a benchmark in ecological and community stewardship. The continued expansion of this recycling initiative not only helps preserve the natural beauty and biodiversity of the Yorkshire Dales but also serves as a model for environmental responsibility nationwide.

Important Dates and Locations for Recycling:

  • Craven Auction Mart, Skipton: 23-25 May & 5-7 Sept
  • Metcalfe W & Sons Ltd Hauliers Yard, Appersett: 26-28 Sept
  • North West Auctions, Crooklands: 28-29 Aug

For more information or to participate in the recycling initiative, please contact Zephie Begolo at

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