End-market Study for Used Ag Plastics Helps Cleanfarms Plan Future Farm Recycling Programs

Agricultural plastics such as empty pesticide and fertilizer containers that are recycled through Cleanfarms’ stewardship programs contribute to the organization’s goal to send zero ag plastic waste to landfill. – Cleanfarms photo

Etobicoke, ON (Oct. 1, 2021) – As part of its goal to develop and implement a comprehensive Canada-wide Zero Plastic Waste Strategy for agricultural plastics, Cleanfarms has released the results of an assessment of ag plastics recycling end markets based on existing North American capacity and market pressures such as supply and demand changes.

The study established a benchmark of the scope and capacity available in end markets that could accept certain ag plastics for recycling. Its results will inform potential next steps for the ag plastic recycling programs and pilots that are in place across Canada.

“Our job at Cleanfarms is to build on the successes of the recycling programs that we have in place so that we progress toward our goal of zero plastic waste in Canadian agriculture,” said Cleanfarms Executive Director Barry Friesen. “The availability of viable end markets is key to the longevity and efficiency of recycling programs and our team is committed to ensuring that the materials collected for recycling through Cleanfarms programs can be reprocessed in North America for manufacturing into new products and packaging.”

The study rates end-markets based on their level of stability in late 2019 and throughout 2020 and represents a snapshot of the market situation at the time this report was completed. It serves as a jumping off point for ongoing market analysis by the Cleanfarms team.

Friesen also notes that farmers want reassurance that the material they turn in to recycling programs is, in fact, being made into new products. This study helps address these questions and explains why Cleanfarms recommends a measured approach to program development that is, in part, based on indications that end markets are viable, providing for long-term stability.

The study also outlines the various market forces that influence end market availability. It notes that numerous private sector and government-led initiatives are underway with an aim to improve demand for recycled content which will help drive consistent requirements for recycled ag plastics as feedstocks in manufacturing.

Cleanfarms released the end-market study as a follow-up to a related report, Agricultural Plastic Characterization and Management on Canadian Farms, released in early August. It was a first-ever national waste characterization benchmark report that identified the types and amount of plastic packaging and products used in the agricultural sector by sector and region across Canada.

Combined, these two reports provide key information that will help guide the ag sector as it explores how agricultural plastics packaging and products can contribute to Canada’s emerging circular economy, identify areas for development, and provide a benchmark measure against future success.

Cleanfarms undertook the dual study with the financial support of the Government of Canada through Environment and Climate Change Canada.

About Cleanfarms

Cleanfarms is a national not-for-profit organization that delivers industry-funded, end-of-life stewardship programs to the agricultural sector across Canada. It works collaboratively with more than 70 members in the pesticide, fertilizer, seed, ag plastic and animal health medication sectors, as well as partner agencies, and governments to ensure that Canadian farmers can actively contribute to a healthy environment and a sustainable future.

Cleanfarms has over ten years’ experience identifying and helping to develop North American markets for agricultural plastics through the ongoing development and management of farmer focused recycling programs. It has staff located in Lethbridge, Alberta; Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan; Etobicoke, Ontario; and St-Bruno, Quebec.

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Contact: Barbara McConnell, Cleanfarms Media
416-452-2373
bmcconnell@cleanfarms.ca

Twine Recycling is Taking off in Saskatchewan

September 21, 2021 – Tammy Shields writes about Cleanfarms’ twine recycling program in Rural Councillor’s 2021 Agriculture & Environment edition (p. 21)

Cleanfarms Launches Pilot Project to Recycle Used Farm Plastics in B.C.’s Regional District of Fraser-Fort George

Silage bale wrap used to store livestock feed will be part of a Cleanfarms pilot program to collect agricultural plastics for recycling in the Regional District of Fraser-Fort George. – Cleanfarms photo

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.

Learn more at Cleanfarms.ca/building-a-zero-plastic-waste-strategy-for-agriculture/

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Contact: Barbara McConnell, Cleanfarms Media, 416-452-2373, bmcconnell@cleanfarms.ca

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.

Cleanfarms Releases Findings of Benchmark Research Detailing On-Farm Generation of Agricultural Plastics

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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.

Plastic bale wrap is used to store livestock feed such as silage until it is needed. In the Cleanfarms pilot program this used ag plastic now can be collected for recycling. – Cleanfarms photo

“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.

Cleanfarms Names Regions for Unwanted, Old Ag Pesticides and Livestock/Equine Medications Collection this Fall

Containers of unwanted pesticides and old livestock and equine medications being returned at a Cleanfarms collection event. – Cleanfarms photo

(Etobicoke, Ontario) July 12, 2021 – Cleanfarms has named the locations of its next regional events to collect unwanted, old agricultural pesticides and obsolete livestock, equine and poultry medications so that farmers can dispose of these agricultural materials safely and in an environmentally responsible way.

In the fall, the Cleanfarms program will run more than 70 events in five regions:

  • Northern Saskatchewan –October 4 – 8, at 20 locations
  • British Columbia – Okanagan, Interior, Kootenay,
    October 12 – 22, at 11 locations
  • Southern Alberta – October 25 – 29, at 20 locations
  • New Brunswick – November 1 – 12, at 11 locations
  • Nova Scotia – November 1 – 12, at 11 locations

“We run this program at no cost to farmers so they can remove unwanted, old and obsolete agricultural chemicals such as ag pesticides and ag animal medications from storage on their farms. The program is designed to help farmers keep their farms clean and sustainable. When they use our program, farmers have peace of mind that Cleanfarms will dispose of the materials safely,” said Cleanfarms Executive Director Barry Friesen.

The crop protection industry, in partnership with the Canadian Animal Health Institute (CAHI), covers the full cost of operating the program and disposing of the materials responsibly. All of it is managed safely through high temperature incineration.

“CAHI and its members are proud to support the Cleanfarms collections,” said CAHI President and CEO Dr. Catherine Filejski. “As a sector, the Canadian animal health industry is committed to innovative and sustainable practices, both within our supply chains and after products are sold to end-users.”

Since the collection and safe disposal of unwanted pesticides and old livestock/equine medication began, the program has safely disposed of 3.7 million kg of old pesticides and 47,800 kg of obsolete farm animal health medications.

Cleanfarms rotates the collection program so that events return to regions every three years, based on participant feedback. Collection events are scheduled at local agricultural retailers’ locations for ease of access. Information will be continuously updated on Cleanfarms’ website under “what to recycle & where”. COVID-19 precautions will be in place, as appropriate, based on regional public health requirements.

Materials accepted in the Cleanfarms program include:

  • old or unwanted agricultural pesticides (identified with a Pest Control Product number on the label)
  • commercial pesticides for golf courses and industrial and commercial pest control products (identified with a Pest Control Product number on the label)
  • livestock/equine medications that are used on-farm for livestock, poultry or horses (identified with a DIN number, serial number, notification number or Pest Control Product number on the label).

The program does NOT accept:

  • fertilizer, diluted solution, large quantities of unopened product, and treated seed
  • needles or sharps, medicated feed, aerosol containers, premises disinfectants and sanitizers, veterinary clinic waste and medications, ear tags, or aerosols
  • any other household hazardous waste.

Cleanfarms is a Canadian, non-profit stewardship organization funded by members in the crop protection, crop storage and animal health industries. It works with agricultural organizations, associations, agencies, governments and many partners to ensure that Canadian farmers have opportunities to manage agricultural waste responsibly. Cleanfarms delivers recycling and disposal solutions for non-organic waste generated on farms. In addition to the collection program for unwanted pesticides and old livestock/equine medications, Cleanfarms collects empty plastic agricultural pesticide and fertilizer containers, grain bags and twine for recycling. In eastern Canada, Cleanfarms collects seed bags and fertilizer bags (Quebec only) for responsible disposal. Cleanfarms has staff located in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan; Lethbridge, Alberta; Etobicoke, Ontario; and St-Bruno, Quebec.

Questions about which products are accepted in this collection program can be directed to 877-622-4460 or email Cleanfarms at info@cleanfarms.ca.

cleanfarms.ca

Peace River Regional District Farmers Can Now Recycle Used Grain Bags and Baler Twine at No Cost in Cleanfarms Pilot

MOOSE JAW, SK (June 25,2021) – With the prevalence of canola, grain and forage seed crops as well as beef cattle farming in the Peace River Regional District (PRRD), it is no surprise that plastic grain bags and baler twine are important agricultural tools for farmers/producers who call this part of northern British Columbia home.

Important as grain bags and baler twine are in many farm operations, managing the used materials when farmers are finished with them can be a challenge. Until now, the used material has been either landfilled or stored on farms. But that’s about to change.

Beginning this week, Cleanfarms, with the support of the PRRD, is launching a pilot to enable local farmers to recycle the baler twine and grain bags at no charge by taking them to one of eight collection sites located throughout the district.

Cleanfarms’ contractors will pick up the material from the collection sites and transport it to recycling facilities in Canada and the USA where it will be processed for reuse in new products such as car parts and plastic bags.

“We estimate farmers in the PRRD generate about 70 tonnes of used agricultural baler twine and grain bags annually,” said Cleanfarms Executive Director Barry Friesen. “By taking the used ag plastic to collection sites to be recycled, local farmers can keep their farm properties clean and tidy, and contribute to sustainable use of natural resources. It is a solution that meets the challenge of managing the used materials today and contributes to a cleaner environment for tomorrow’s farm families.

“Every tonne of grain bag plastic and kilometer of baler twine requires natural resources and energy to manufacturer. By recycling these materials, we ensure that we use their full value which fuels a circular economy for agricultural products in Canada. That’s something we can all get behind,” Friesen added.

Cleanfarms plans to expand pilots like this, which target used agricultural plastic across the country to achieve a goal of zero plastic waste to landfill in agriculture.

“We are very proud of the way residents in our community participate in the recycling programs offered through various stewardship programs. This is a special new program for farmers and for the agricultural community that addresses ag plastics and we are pleased to partner with Cleanfarms to make it happen. We look forward to seeing excellent results from PRRD farmers that will lead to a better understand of how to achieve zero plastic waste in the agricultural sector in years to come,” said PRRD Board Chair Brad Sperling.

The collection sites are located at the Cecil Lake, Prespatou, Tomslake, Rolla and Buick Creek Transfer Stations, and at the Bessborough, Chetwynd and North Peace Regional Landfill sites.

To recycle the ag twine, farmers must place it loose and free of debris in large Cleanfarms collection bags that are available free of charge at any of the collection sites. Grain bags must be machine rolled and securely tied. Both can be dropped off at the designated collection sites free of charge.

Cleanfarms 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. In addition to the recycling programs, Cleanfarms collects unwanted pesticides and old, obsolete livestock/equine medications for safe disposal in a program that rotates into regions of Canada every three years.

BC joins Saskatchewan, Ontario, Quebec and Prince Edward Island in collecting baler twine in this series of pilots to expand collection of used ag plastics from farms for recycling.

The Cleanfarms pilots are funded in part by the Government of Canada through Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s Canadian Agricultural Strategic Priorities Program (CASPP). The government is investing $50.3 million over five years in a number of projects to help the agricultural sector adapt and remain competitive.

Process for Preparing Materials for Recycling in the PRRD

Taking care to prepare materials properly helps ensure that they can be accepted for recycling; here’s how.

Twine

Use a collection bag to contain used twine, and return full bags to a nearby collection site.

  1. Shake the twine to remove debris. This works best when it is dry.
  2. Run a gloved hand along the twine to remove clumps of dirt and/or snow in winter.
  3. Place twine directly into a collection bag.
  4. Secure the bag closed with a zip tie or twine and return to your closest collection site.

Note: do not include net wrap in the bag with the twine. Mixing net wrap with twine will make the whole bag unrecyclable.

Grain Bags

Grain bags need to be tightly machine rolled to be accepted for recycling. In general, preparation involves these 3 steps:

  1. Shake – Remove debris and as much organic material (spoilage, dirt, etc.) before or during rolling. Excessively dirty or loose/unrolled bags may be rejected.
  2. Roll – Prepare grain bags by rolling with a grain bag roller. Please contact Cleanfarms for information about accessing a grain bag roller.
  3. Return – Return your well-rolled plastic bale to a collection site.

Old Used Plastic Materials Stored on Farms

Farmers in the PRRD may have collected various types of old, unusable plastic twine and grain bags over the years. If these materials cannot be separated and prepared according to the procedure, farmers are advised to dispose of them through regular landfill or transfer stations. Free disposal of legacy material that is not recyclable is available through the PRRD’s spring and fall cleanup days. Only material that is prepared for recycling will be accepted as part of the pilot.

Not Accepted in this Pilot

Materials that are not accepted in this pilot project include: bale wrap, feed or seed bags, net wrap, nylon rope, sisal twine, silage bags or silage tarps.

Learn more at this Cleanfarms program page.

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Contact: Barbara McConnell, Cleanfarms Media, 416-452-2373, bmcconnell@cleanfarms.ca

The producers, the MRC Haut-Saint-Laurent and AgriRÉCUP/Cleanfarms join forces to achieve a “Zero Ag-Plastic Waste” strategy for Quebec

Saint-Bruno-de-Montarville, QC (June 21, 2021) – Over the past few months, the MRC (regional county municipalities) Haut-Saint-Laurent, in conjunction with Cleanfarms (Agrirecup in French), have been working to implement a pilot project to recover ag plastics in the region.  The MRC’s farmers are playing a leading role in the pilot, helping to implement a “zero ag-plastic waste” strategy in Quebec’s agricultural sector.

“The MRC Haut-Saint-Laurent is proud to help reduce the environmental footprint of farmers by developing, in conjunction with Cleanfarms, ecological solutions for the recovery of agricultural plastics, both here and elsewhere in Quebec,” said Louise Lebrun, Prefect of MRC Haut-Saint-Laurent.

Better manage on-farm plastics disposal

Operating a livestock farm involves growing and harvesting silage and hay for livestock feed. These forages are wrapped and stored, often for months, requiring the use of film, tarps and silo bags, twine and netting. All in all, this represents a significant amount of plastic, calculated in tonnes. Typically, used plastic ends up in landfills or is burned on the farm.

“The common thread linking farmers in the MRC Haut-Saint-Laurent to those already participating in similar pilot projects across the province is the management of these materials when they are no longer needed. Used ag plastics are difficult to process on the farm, but we know that farmers support finding solutions to manage them in an environmentally responsible manner,” said Cleanfarms’ Manager of Eastern Canada, Christine Lajeunesse. “The goal of our pilot projects is to work with MRCs and farmers to identify and develop effective systems to recover these materials for recycling. At the same time, this optimizes Quebec’s circular economy.’’

Recovery: a practice to be integrated

The pilot project offers farmers two management options to recover their ag plastics:

  1. Collection bags

Farmers simply place each type of plastic separately in Cleanfarms collection bags which are available at participating collection sites.

  1. Ag plastic press

This tool allows farmers to compress between 200 and 250 plastic film items such as bale wrap or tarps into bales. When compressed, the bales weigh roughly 450 kg.

Farmers who use the on-farm press report positive results noting that it makes it easier to handle the plastics. Also, the plastics stay cleaner and meet recyclers’ quality criteria. The press also saves time; for example, farmers make fewer trips to the collection sites.

With both methods, it is important that farmers not mix the types of plastic as this is a criterion for success in recycling.

Participating means doing your part!

In addition to MRC Haut-Saint-Laurent’s involvement, other stakeholders contribute to the pilot project. They are UPA of Haut-Saint-Laurent UPA, BMR Unbag in Sainte-Martine and the municipalities of Saint-Anicet and Hinchinbrooke, not to mention the participation of other municipalities in the MRC.

Interested farmers can return full collection bags or compressed bales to the following three collection sites as of June 15.

  • SAINT-ANICET MUNICIPAL GARAGE
    5001 Route 132, Saint-Anicet
    Monday to Friday | 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. and 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
  • UNIAG SAINTE-MARTINE
    195 Sainte-Marie Street, Sainte-Martine
    Monday to Friday | 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. and 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
  • HINCHINBROOKE MUNICIPAL GARAGE
    315, route 202, Hinchinbrooke
    Occasional collections every second Wednesday of the month.

Note that the first collection will take place on Wednesday, July 14, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Cleanfarms collection bags to fill with ag plastics are available to farmers at Hinchinbrooke Town Hall and Garage, Elgin and Godmanchester Town Halls and Franklin Garage. 

About Cleanfarms

Cleanfarms is a non-profit organization dedicated to environmental responsibility through the sound management of agricultural inorganic waste. Ag plastics recovery programs are offered across Canada and emulated internationally.

The MRC Haut-Saint-Laurent ag-plastics recovery project is part of a series of pilot projects conducted by Cleanfarms with a view to implementing a permanent program throughout Quebec. Cleanfarms receives financial support from the MELCC for its projects.

Learn more at: cleanfarms.ca

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Source:

Christine Lajeunesse
Cleanfarms
Lajeunessec@agrirecup.ca
450-804-4460

Emilie Escafit
MRC Haut-Saint-Laurent
emilie.escafit@mrchsl.com
450-264-5411 ext. 225

Cleanfarms Pilot Gives Farmers Access to Free Recycling for Used Ag Plastics

Stacked hay bales wrapped with plastic baler twine

MOOSE JAW, SK (June 18,2021) – Farmers in the Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako (RDBN) in British Columbia will be able to recycle used agricultural plastic materials such as baler twine and bale wrap at no charge in a new Cleanfarms pilot project launching next week.

The Cleanfarms pilot, operated in partnership with the RDBN, enables farmers to collect used plastic baler twine, bale wrap, silage bags and bunker covers once they are finished with them on the farm and to take them to one of seven collection sites located throughout the district for recycling.

Cleanfarms will pick up the material from the collection sites and transport it to recycling facilities in Canada and the USA where it will be processed for reuse in new products such as car parts and plastic bags.

“We estimate farmers in Bulkley-Nechako generate about 215 tonnes of these types of used agricultural plastics annually,” said Cleanfarms Executive Director Barry Friesen. “We’re excited that through this pilot, farmers will be able to manage these used materials in a way that is both environmentally responsible and helps them keep their farms clean and free of waste ag plastic materials.”

Until now, farmers either landfilled these materials or stored them on the farm. This pilot gives them options for seeing materials recycled when they no longer have a need for them.

“Every silage bag, bale wrap and bunker cover, and every kilometer of baler twine requires natural resources and energy to manufacturer. By recycling, we ensure that we use the materials to their full extent, which fuels a circular economy for agricultural products in Canada,” Friesen said.

Cleanfarms plans to expand pilots like this, which target used agricultural plastic across the country to achieve a goal of zero plastic waste to landfill in agriculture.

“BC has a strong track record as a leader in waste reduction and recovery programs. By partnering with Cleanfarms to offer this pilot to our farmers, we are helping them to keep these ag plastic materials out of our landfills and out of the environment. This is a positive step toward more effective waste management in our community and our province,” said, Mark Fisher, RDBN’s Area A Director and Chair of the Waste Management Committee. Mr. Fisher is particularly excited to see the development of more local end-market options for materials, and looks forward to agriculture contributing to the circular economy.

The collection sites are located at the Fort St. James, Smithers/Telkwa, Southside, Burns Lake, Vanderhoof and Fraser Lake Transfer Stations, and at the Knockholt Landfill.

To recycle the ag plastic materials, farmers can pick up large collection bags free of charge at any of the collection sites. As much as possible, each material type, e.g., twine, bale wrap and silage bags/bunker covers, should be placed into separate bags to keep the various types of plastic separated. Larger pieces can be bundled and secured with twine, then the full bags and bundles can be dropped off at the designated collection sites free of charge.

Cleanfarms operates permanent programs throughout the country to collect and recycle pesticide and fertilizer containers, seed and pesticide bags in eastern Canada, and large grain storage bags that are used primarily on the Prairies. In addition to the recycling programs, Cleanfarms collects unwanted pesticides and old, obsolete livestock/equine medications for safe disposal in a program that rotates into regions of Canada every three years.

BC joins Saskatchewan, Ontario, Quebec and Prince Edward Island in collecting baler twine in this series of pilots to expand collection of used ag plastics from farms for recycling.

The Cleanfarms pilots are funded in part by the Government of Canada through Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s Canadian Agricultural Strategic Priorities Program (CASPP). The government is investing $50.3 million over five years in a number of projects to help the agricultural sector adapt and remain competitive.

Process for Preparing Materials for Recycling in the RDBN

Taking care to prepare materials properly helps ensure that they can be accepted for recycling; here’s how.

Twine

  • Shake the twine to remove debris. This works best when it is dry.
  • Run a gloved hand along the twine to remove clumps of dirt and/or snow in winter.
  • Place twine directly into a collection bag.
  • Note: do not include net wrap in the bag with the twine. Mixing net wrap with twine will make the whole bag unrecyclable. Net wrap is not accepted in this program.

Bale Wrap

  • Shake the bale wrap to remove debris (hay, ice, mud). This works best when the bale wrap is dry.
  • Place the bale wrap directly into a collection bag; immediately store it in a grassy or gravelled area.
  • Avoid bagging bale wrap which has large clumps of mud or hay.

Silage Bags and Bunker Covers

  • Shake the plastic to remove debris (spoiled silage, mud, ice). This works best when the plastic is dry.
  • If necessary, sweep large pieces of plastic to remove as much debris as possible.
  • Fold and tightly roll large pieces of plastic and secure with twine.
  • Place smaller pieces of plastic in a collection bag.
  • Avoid bagging plastic that has large clumps of spoiled silage or mud.

Old Used Plastic Materials Stored on Farms

Farmers in the RDBN may have collected various types of old, unusable plastic twine, bale wrap, silage bags and bunker covers over the years. If these materials cannot be separated and prepared according to the procedure, farmers are advised to dispose of them through regular landfill or transfer stations. Only material that is prepared for recycling will be accepted as part of the pilot.

Learn more about this Cleanfarms program.