From May to September 2018, farmers in the Moose Jaw area turned in approximately 600 kilograms of bags through three ag-retailers: Hawks Agro, Nutrien Ag Solutions and Prairie Plains Agro. Farmers were provided with plastic collection bags, which held smaller seed and pesticide bags. The larger tote bags (supersacks) were flattened and tied together in bundles of six or less. (Photos on the page show what it looks like.)
Waste characterization studies were then performed to help identify the types, weights and brands of bags that were brought in for disposal. The bags will now be disposed of through waste to energy recovery.
The response from farmers, retailers and industry was very positive. The most common question came from stakeholders outside of the project area asking when the program would be available closer to their farms.
As Cleanfarms wraps up the 2018 micro pilots, plans are underway to expand the program to a wider area in southwest Saskatchewan and in select areas of Alberta and Manitoba.
These micro-pilots are an extension of Cleanfarms’ industry-funded, Eastern Canadian seed & pesticide bag collection program which has become an important component of end of life stewardship for industry and farmers.
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Cleanfarms Inc. has been named a Canada’s 2019 Clean50 Top Project in recognition of its progressive, innovative and unique programs that promote environmental sustainability through the proper management of agricultural waste in Canada’s farm communities.
Clean50 (www.clean50.com), managed by Delta Management and sponsored by a number of leading companies including the Globe and Mail, screened more than 600 submissions for the 2019 awards program. It aims to recognize champions from the business and non-profit sector that demonstrate innovative approaches and achieve measurable success in environmental responsibility and improvement over the past two years.
At a summit held September 28 attended by Clean50 award recipients and past winners, Cleanfarms won second place in a vote for top place among the five leading winning submissions. The Cleanfarms award highlights just three out of the many programs that the organization operates, including a logistically-challenging program to collect the myriad of large, non-refillable containers from farms across the prairies. With the success of this single, cohesive system, the program has since been rolled out countrywide. Without these programs, the agricultural waste collected such as plastic containers for pesticides and fertilizer under 23Ls; bulk containers larger than 23Ls; grain bags; seed and pesticide bags; and unwanted pesticides and livestock medications might be buried or burned on farms or disposed of unsafely in landfill.
“There are many specialized waste materials generated every day in Canadian farm operations and our job is to make sure these materials come back to the circular economy for infinite recycling or are disposed of safely,” says Barry Friesen, General Manager of Cleanfarms. “We work with farmers and the agricultural community to provide opportunities that enable growers to choose recycling and other safe disposal programs over other disposal options.”
The Clean50 award recognizes the inspiration, innovation and the impact of the work that Cleanfarms’ team brings to establishing new solutions to manage and minimize waste from Canadian farms.
Included in the Clean50 submission was a Cleanfarms’ seed and pesticide bag recovery program that expanded from the Maritimes through Quebec and Ontario, developing a network to recover thousands of bags for recycling and management in waste-to-energy systems. Another project focused on expanding a Manitoba pilot to recover and recycle twine and agricultural film from agricultural operations province wide though a network of municipal collection sites.
The impacts of these three programs show outstanding progress with recovery of nearly 79,000 bulk containers; 924,000 kg of seed and pesticide bags; and 75,000 kg of agricultural film and twine in the last two-years alone.
“This is absolutely a team effort,” says Friesen. “Our staff is inspired by the commitment of Canadian farmers to sustainable and environmentally responsible practices of producing food for families worldwide. It is our privilege to work with industry members to provide opportunities to offer options for cost effective recycling and safe disposal programs to help keep Canadian farms clean.”
For further information: Barbara McConnell, Cleanfarms Communications, email@example.com, 416-452-2373
A multi-phased project aimed at developing a long-term, sustainable plan for managing agricultural plastic waste such as grain bags, bale and silage wrap and twine will begin this fall.
Manitoba Sustainable Development has asked Cleanfarms to lead this project which will include the expansion of a government-funded pilot project and stakeholder consultations. This will build into an implementation plan for a province-wide, industry-funded program in 2020.
Farmers currently have access to 19 collection sites through this pilot project and turned in over 61 metric tonnes of film and twine for recycling in 2016 and 2017. Collections are primarily offered through rural municipalities who strongly support this initiative that helps divert these materials from their landfills.
Manitoba’s ag plastic industry, growers and municipalities will be asked to provide input into a plan that will outline how ag plastics would be managed using extended producer responsibility, the model used to manage many of the province’s existing recycling programs. Cleanfarms will also engage with stakeholders across the Prairies to encourage harmonization.
The final phase of this work will provide recommendations for transitioning the pilots into a program that is regulated under Manitoba’s Packaging and Printed Paper Stewardship Regulation. This will provide farmers with increased access to collection sites and put appropriate measures in place to transfer financing to industry.
Cleanfarms currently operates Saskatchewan’s industry-funded grain bag recycling program, in addition to programs for empty pesticide and fertilizer containers and obsolete pesticide and animal health medications.
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