A Skipton-based charity is working with a leading tree shelter manufacturer to make positive changes to the environment and help local landowners to remove and re-cycle plastic tree guards from their woodlands.

The Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust has partnered with a leading tree shelter manufacturer, Tubex, to reduce plastic pollution and collect and remove thousands of tree shelters from the area.

So far, the charity has collected 20,000 tree guards from local landowners but says they want to reach 40,000 by the end of the year.  

Tree shelters are used on 10 to 20 percent of newly planted trees each year and are vital to protect them from bad weather and from browsing animals that might destroy them, however, they are often made from plastic products. 

Mike Appleton, Plastic Free Woodlands Officer at Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust said: “They are a needed product. If you stick 10,000 trees up on a hill it’s like a salad bar for a deer, they’ll eat anything. In the uplands you do need a tube otherwise the trees just aren’t going to grow.”

Research has also found that trees grow up to 25per cent bigger whilst wearing a guard, as it creates a microclimate that stabilises wind, light, and temperature to allow the young sapling to prosper.

The partnership is hoping to come up with an efficient way for landowners to remove their plastic tree guards, and for them to then be recycled and re-used, to minimise the effects of single-use plastic.

They are setting up collection points to make it is easier for landowners to dispose of their used guards, which will then be transported to a recycling facility in the UK.

Mike Appleton added:” Ourselves and Tubex are trying to do something that’s never been done before. It’s having the option at the end of the tube's lifespan to recycle, that has never been done.”

Mike Hill, Director of Customer Care for Berry Global, Owner and Manufacturer of Tubex products and Tree shelters said: “The aim is to bring the tree shelters that are out in the environment bring them back into our organisation where we can sort, clean, and recycle them and put them back into new tubes.

We recognised that people have perceptions about plastic, and what we want to be able to do is show that plastic in terms of other options is not all bad, it provides protection, it can be recycled and that means we can create a product that’s sustainable and can keep being re-used.”

The tree shelters are made from poly-propylene, which is the same material as what is put in domestic recycling bins.

Mike Hill added: “We don’t have recycling bins in the forest, so we need to sort them out, they get washed, and then we have our own recycling facilities in the UK so it will get mechanically processed again and it creates pellets ready to go again.”

“One of the reasons we are delighted to be working with the millennium trust is that we need to get the message out that this is a different way of thinking about looking after our forest.

 It’s an extension of what we need to do to think about the environment and they’ve been great at driving that message, that it is possible to collect through many different means and get it back so we can recycle.”

Tubex is also launching a ‘nature product’ that will be an entirely biodegradable shelter that aims to help farmers who have trees in remote places.

Local volunteers and charity groups such as the Friends of the Dales have been helping The Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust with the collection process.

The Trust has said that any Craven-based landowners should get in touch at tubes@ydmt.org if they need help removing tree guards.

The project will also help to aid the government’s pledge to plant 30,000 hectares of trees by 2025 by ensuring that newly planted trees grow sufficiently.