Building a Canada-wide zero plastic waste strategy for agriculture

Research demonstrates that when convenient, cost effective stewardship programs, like Cleanfarms’ empty pesticide & fertilizer container recycling program, are available, farmers overwhelmingly use them.

We also know that farmers and their local communities want to recycle additional agricultural plastics (ag plastics) like bale/silage wrap, twine and greenhouse film to keep their farms clean and divert these bulky and sometime hard-to-manage materials from landfills.

In addition to on the ground pilot projects in Alberta, Manitoba and Quebec, Cleanfarms is working on additional projects to help ag plastic producers and Canadian farmers boost their ability to recycle and properly steward these materials.

With the financial support of the Government of Canada through Environment and Climate Change Canada, a two-part research project is underway to gather important information that could form the building blocks of future programming:

Agricultural waste characterization

By combining desktop research like census data, insight from manufacturers/distributors and direct input from farmers, this project will identify and quantify the volume of agricultural plastics used on Canadian farms. This data is used for planning, benchmarking and budgeting. 

This is where Canadian farmers can help.

We need to speak with you for about 45 minutes (by phone) to better understand how you use plastics in your operations and its state at end of life. At a later date, we would like to conduct farm visits to see firsthand how ag plastics are used. 

End market assessment

In addition to quantifying the ag plastics that are in use, another key step is to identify facilities that can recycle or recover materials or energy from items which cannot be recycled.

This is first done through an industry scan that focuses on facilities that can presently manage ag plastics, which can be quite different from other plastics streams used in households and other applications. The project team will consolidate data from each facility like the types of plastics a facility can handle, its capacity, pre-processing requirements and end use applications to develop an inventory of currently available and potential options.

This project will support Canada’s comprehensive federal agenda to address plastic waste and pollution and increase our knowledge and evidence base about plastic waste. It will encourage innovative action along the lifecycle of agriculture plastics in order to support Canada’s goal of zero plastic waste.

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