McBride, BC (August 25,2021) – Farmers in the McBride area of British Columbia’s Regional District of Fraser-Fort George (RDFFG) who use twine, bale wrap, silage bags and bunker covers will be able to recycle these used plastic materials as part of a new pilot recycling project set to officially launch soon.
Plastic materials like baler twine and bale wrap are common agricultural tools but when farmers are finished with them, disposal can be a challenge. Usually, the used materials are either landfilled or stored on farms.
The three-year recycling pilot is being operated by Cleanfarms in partnership with the RDFFG at no cost to participating farmers.
“We estimate farmers in the RDFFG generate about 460 tonnes of these agricultural plastics annually,” said Cleanfarms Executive Director Barry Friesen. “This pilot will help local farmers to move those used materials off their farm properties when they are no longer wanted. Recycling used farm plastics helps keep farms clean and tidy and contributes to sustainable use of natural resources in Canada’s emerging circular economy.”
“The RDFFG has recognized agricultural plastics as an ongoing challenge in our solid waste system. We are eager to join Cleanfarms in this pilot recycling effort. It is our goal to see an extended producer responsibility (EPR) stewardship program for agriculture plastics in BC and this pilot is a good first step,” says Lara Beckett, Vice Chair of the RDFFG.
Local farmers are encouraged to participate in the pilot by picking up large Cleanfarms collection bags at the McBride Transfer Station for each type of material they plan to recycle, and return them when full. Cleanfarms’ contractors will pick up the materials and transport them to recycling facilities in Canada and the USA where they will be processed for reuse in new products such as car parts and plastic bags.
The Cleanfarms recycling project in the RDFFG is one of three recycling projects taking place in British Columbia. The others are in the Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako and the Peace River Regional District. Each pilot is slightly different depending on the most prominent types of local farming. Cleanfarms’ overall goal is to expand pilots into permanent programs across the country to achieve zero ag plastic waste to landfill.
BC joins Saskatchewan, Ontario, Quebec and Prince Edward Island in collecting baler twine in a series of pilots to expand collection of used ag plastics from farms for recycling.
This pilot is funded in part by the Regional District of Fraser Fort-George and the Government of Canada, through Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s Canadian Agriculture Strategic Priorities Program (CASPP). The federal government is investing $50.3 million over five years in a number of projects to help the agricultural sector adapt and remain competitive.
Contact: Barbara McConnell, Cleanfarms Media, 416-452-2373, firstname.lastname@example.org
Materials included in the pilot
- Materials accepted include twine, bale wrap, silage bags and bunker covers.
- Materials not accepted are feed or seed bags, net wrap, nylon rope and sisal twine.
Cleanfarms is an agricultural industry stewardship organization that contributes to a healthier environment and a sustainable future by recovering and recycling agricultural and related industry plastics, packaging and products. It operates permanent programs throughout the country to collect and recycle pesticide and fertilizer containers, seed and pesticide bags in eastern Canada, and grain bags in the Prairies and also collects unwanted pesticides and old, obsolete livestock/equine medications for safe disposal in a program that rotates into regions of Canada every three years.
ETOBICOKE, ON (August 3, 2021) – In an 18-month research project to identify the types and amount of plastic packaging and products used in the agricultural sector across Canada, Cleanfarms has released a first-ever national benchmark report that documents how much of these plastic materials are generated by sector and by region across the country.
The report, Agricultural Plastic Characterization and Management on Canadian Farms, has been posted to cleanfarms.ca
This research provides in depth figures that will help guide the ag sector as it explores how agricultural plastics packaging and products can contribute to Canada’s emerging circular economy.
“This data is available at an important time. There is considerable activity at the global level aimed at changing the ways that plastics are managed,” said Cleanfarms Executive Director Barry Friesen. “Closer to home, we can now measure our progress just as new initiatives are put in place that complement both established and high performing recycling programs and the ongoing commitment in the farming community to do even more.”
The research was funded in part by Environment and Climate Change Canada.
As Canada’s only agricultural industry stewardship organization, Cleanfarms actively contributes to a healthier environment and a sustainable future for Canadian agriculture by developing and operating programs across Canada specifically for farmers to help them manage plastic materials when they are no longer useful.
Cleanfarms currently operates a Canada-wide program that recovers empty 23L and smaller pesticide and fertilizer containers. The program has been in operation for 30 years. In 2020, 76% of the empty containers were recovered for recycling.
One of Cleanfarms’ newer programs that helps Saskatchewan farmers recycle grain bags has seen collection volumes increase substantially since this program was first offered. In 2018 Cleanfarms recovered 1,257 tonnes or grain bags. In 2020, Saskatchewan farmers doubled this, returning 2,536 tonnes of grain bags for recycling.
“Ag plastics like grain bags, bale and silage plastics and containers are central to modern agriculture. They allow for efficient storage and delivery of product on farm,” Friesen noted, adding that, “Our high recovery rate for container recycling, combined with substantial increases in grain bag volumes over a short timeframe demonstrate that farmers want to recycle. It is up to organizations like Cleanfarms to ensure that convenient, customized programs that respond to their needs are made available.”
The research estimates that Canadian farmers use nearly 62,000 tonnes of ag plastic products and packaging annually. More than half of that, about 53%, is generated in the Prairie provinces; Ontario and Quebec combined generate another 37%; BC accounts for about 7%, and the Maritimes produce the remainder at 3%.Different commodities and farming practices impact the types and amounts of ag plastics in use. Field crop production, which includes grain and oilseeds and growing hay and fodder for livestock account for 59% of the total amount generated annually in the form of grain bags, silage wrap, bale wrap, baler wrap and bunker covers. Vegetable production, whether in field or in greenhouses accounts for another 10% of the annual total and include items such as propagation trays and greenhouse films.
Plastic usage in other sectors and by province is detailed in the report.
“Cleanfarms currently collects about 6,000 tonnes of ag plastics annually through its existing programming. This figure is up from about 2,000 tonnes in 2015,” Friesen noted. “With support from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s Canadian Agricultural Strategic Priorities Program program, Cleanfarms is launching six pilot projects that are designed to help recover a greater portion of essential, high volume ag plastics. We anticipate we’ll see the recovery numbers climb year over year,” Friesen said.
Research Study Recommendations
In the report, Cleanfarms noted that a national, multi-phased strategy is needed to enable industry to divert more plastics that can be recirculated in the Canadian economy, including:
- Increased outreach to inform farmers of the opportunities to use existing programs designed for them
- Develop best management practices through pilot projects to establish appropriate preparation procedures to ensure the plastics collected are recyclable, and to transition pilot projects to permanent programs
- Develop technologies that improve the quality of collected materials before they are delivered to end markets
- Develop and allow processes that incorporate used ag plastics in the manufacture of new products
- Provide support, as appropriate, to the development of extended producer responsibility policies to ensure a stable funding source to cover recycling programs and costs long term
“The fact that long-standing plastics management programs have been set up and operated voluntarily by the ag industry in Canada is a testament to how far this sector is ahead of the curve,” Friesen said, “Our efforts will continue to focus on expanding recycling in the ag sector to help farmers achieve their sustainability goals.”
Cleanfarms is an agricultural industry stewardship organization that contributes to a healthier environment and a sustainable future by recovering and recycling agricultural and related industry plastics, packaging and products. It is funded by its members in the crop protection, fertilizer, seed, animal health medication, bale wrap and grain bag industries. It has staff located in Lethbridge, Alberta; Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan; Etobicoke, Ontario; and St-Bruno, Quebec.
- Etobicoke (ON)
- Lethbridge (AB)
- Moose Jaw (SK)
- St-Bruno-de-Montarville (QC)
- Winnipeg (MB)
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