Cleanfarms is a non-profit industry stewardship organization committed to environmental responsibility through the proper management of agricultural plastic packaging and product waste. Recycled agricultural plastics are made into new products such as farm drainage tile, flexible irrigation pipe and plastic bags.
By the end of 2018, the organization had recovered 51,664 metric tonnes of non-organic, ag waste from Canada’s agricultural sector:
- 45,722 tonnes of empty ag-plastic jugs and containers for recycling
- 1,400 tonnes of used grain bags, film and twine for recycling
- 1,300 tonnes of empty seed, pesticide and fertilizer bags for proper disposal
- 3,242 tonnes of old, unwanted pesticides and livestock/equine medications
Pilot Programs on the Prairies
One of the ways Cleanfarms is making it easier for farmers in Alberta (AB) and Manitoba (MB) to collect and return jugs is by giving them a large return bag when they make their spring pesticide and fertilizer purchases. The bags have been available for awhile in eastern Canada and in Saskatchewan with good results. For example, Quebec farmers return more than 75% of the ag-plastic containers they use on their farms. But in AB and MB, the practice has been to return jugs to collection sites loose or tied together. The large collection bags will give growers in those provinces an easier way to collect and transport empty pesticide and fertilizer jugs from the farm to their municipal collection site and potentially, boost recycling recovery rates.
Pilots and Permanent Programs in Quebec
In Quebec, Cleanfarms is mid-way through a three-year pilot to collect data on recycling agricultural plastics that Cleanfarms hopes will result in the evolution to a permanent industry stewardship program regulated by the province. The program is collecting data on recycling convenience, benefits to the environment and how to achieve low cost operations. Partners in the Cleanfarms pilot include the Montérégie Région and five of its municipal regions, the regional UPA associations and several ag retail collection sites.
And in Quebec, Ontario and the Maritimes, Cleanfarms is running programs to collect seed and pesticide bags for proper disposal. In Québec, this program has just expanded to include fertilizer bags.
Manitoba Transitioning to Regulated Recovery Program
Recovery rates for a range of ag-waste materials should see a lift in Manitoba this year as the province prepares to transition from a government-funded to an industry-funded, regulated stewardship program. Manitoba has been ground zero for testing collection programs for grain bags, bale and silage wrap and twine since 2013 allowing Cleanfarms to gain hands-on recycling experience and to determine what collection and processing options are available. In 2018, Cleanfarms collected 34 tonnes of film and twine for recycling.
Saskatchewan Grain Bag Regulated Recycling Seeing Excellent Results
Cleanfarms is rolling out the Saskatchewan grain bag recycling program under the province’s Agricultural Packaging Product Waste Stewardship Regulations (2016). It is the only government-regulated extended producer responsibility program of its kind in Canada.
Alberta Ag-Plastic. Recycle It! Pilot Recycles Gain Bags and Twine
Taking learnings from Manitoba and Saskatchewan, Cleanfarms launched its newest pilot, the ‘Alberta Ag-Plastic. Recycle It!’ program last fall on behalf of the Agricultural Plastics Recycling Group. The three-year pilot is being funded through a grant from the Government of Alberta and administered by Alberta Beef Producers. Estimates are that 5,500 tonnes of agricultural plastic (grain bags and twine) is available to be collected for recycling each year.
Unwanted Pesticides and Livestock/Equine Medications Program Continues
In 2020, Cleanfarms will be running its long-standing Unwanted Pesticides and Livestock/Equine Medications collection program, in partnership with the Canadian Animal Health Institute. The targeted regions this year will be in BC’s Vancouver Island (October 5 – 9) and the Fraser Valley (October 12 – 16), as well as southern Saskatchewan (October 26 – 30), Quebec (September 21 – October 8) and PEI (November 2 – 13).