2019 Saskatchewan Grain Bag Recycling Rate Already Surpasses 2018 by 25%

MOOSE JAW, SK – Halfway through 2019, and with one of the busiest periods of grain bag recycling still ahead, Saskatchewan farmers have already recycled 25% more grain bags in 2019 than they did in all of 2018, recycling program operator Cleanfarms announced today.

Cleanfarms is a non-profit industry stewardship organization established 10 years ago to help Canadian farmers recycle or properly dispose of waste agricultural plastic and other waste materials generated on farms.So far this year, Saskatchewan farmers have turned in almost 1,580 tonnes of used, empty grain bags for recycling. During the whole of 2018, the first year of the government-regulated program, the total collected for recycling was 1,265 tonnes.

“With 2019 only at the mid-way point and with a full harvest season ahead of us, we are expecting that we’ll see the year end with a very successful recycling program for grain bags in Saskatchewan,” predicted Cleanfarms’ general manager Barry Friesen. “We have Saskatchewan farmers to thank for that. We are very grateful they are getting on board so enthusiastically with this recycling program.”

Across the province from Carievale to Meadow Lake, 34 municipalities and businesses are set up as Cleanfarms collection locations that accept grain bags under the recycling program.

To date this year, Cleanfarms has shipped 84 semi trailer loads of grain bags to a recycler in the southern U.S. where the bags are washed, shredded and the plastic pelletized so it can be used to make new products such as plastic bags. Each trailer load holds about 120 rolled grain bags meaning that more than 10,000 grain bags have been shipped for recycling so far this year.

As an example, the collection site at the Unity municipal landfill site – one of the busiest in the province – has already collected about 281 tonnes (281,000 kg) of grain bags so far this year. This translates into 16 semi trailer loads. An additional three loads are set to go in the next few days.

The recycling program for grain bags in Saskatchewan was established in July 2016 under The Agricultural Packaging Product Waste Stewardship Regulations, the first regulation of its kind in Canada. Through it, the province set the groundwork for a regulated recycling program similar to many other of Saskatchewan’s stewardship programs for products such as tires, electronics, paint and oil containers. The regulation transfers financial responsibility for proper disposal from the tax payer to businesses that supply grain bags into the market.

The recycling program applies an environmental handling fee (EHF) – in place since November 2018 – at the time of sale to help cover the cost of recycling the used grain bags. Specifically, the EHF is used to compensate collection sites for collecting the 113 kg plus, one-time-use bags; for loading and transporting them to end markets; and for administration. At 25 cents a kilogram, the EHF amounts to about $50 on a 10-foot by 300-foot grain bag, which can weigh close to 200 kgs and cost more than $1,100 dollars.

Cleanfarms operates the extended producer responsibility (EPR) grain bag collection and recycling program on behalf of the obligated industry.

Cleanfarms has developed a series of successful programs to recover and recycle or properly dispose of plastic ag waste and other farm waste materials including:

  • Empty pesticide and fertilizer containers under 23 litres in size (Canada-wide)
  • Empty pesticide and fertilizer containers over 23 litres in size (Canada-wide)
  • Obsolete pesticides and animal health products (Canada-wide)
  • Empty seed and pesticide bags (primarily in eastern Canada with pilots operating in the prairie provinces)
  • Empty grain bags in Saskatchewan (along with operating a pilot program to start soon in Alberta)

Barbara McConnell, Cleanfarms Media, 613-471-1816, bmcconnell@cleanfarms.ca

View Saskatchewan Grain Bag Collection Locations

Quebec farms produce tonnes of unrecyclable plastic waste, study suggests (Montreal Gazette)

Article by Daniel Sucar in Montreal Gazette

“Phil Quinn, owner of Quinn Farm, does maintenance on one of his tractors.” Photo by Pierre Obendrauf, Montreal Gazette

This article points out that there’s a high volume of ag plastic in province, but also that there are several solutions for diverting it from landfill.

Included also: “Government regulation doesn’t have to be complicated,” CleanFarms general manager Barry Friesen said. “If you give the farmers the tools to do the job, they’ll do it. They all want to do the right thing, because the land is how they make their living.”

View the full article

“Cleaner every year”: Cleanfarms featured in Ontario Grain Farmer Magazine

An update on the Cleanfarms program featured in Ontario Grain Farmer Magazine.

Single Use Plastics Bans Not Targeting Ag-plastics: Cleanfarms

Moose Jaw—This week’s federal government announcement on the ban of some single use plastics by 2021 have left many Canadian farmers wondering if single use plastics for agricultural products such as grain bags, pesticide and fertilizer jugs and seed bags are included.

Cleanfarms, the national organization that operates programs throughout the country to collect empty and used agricultural plastics for recycling and proper disposal says farm plastic products such as grain bags and packaging like jugs and bags are not on the list of single use plastics targeted for bans.

Cleanfarms General Manager Barry Friesen says that even though farm plastic waste will not be affected by bans the impact could see increases in regulations for agricultural products through government industry responsibility programs.

“For example, in Saskatchewan, grain bag recycling is now required under a provincially-regulated industry stewardship program,” Friesen says. “To cover the cost of recycling the bags, which weigh hundreds of kilograms, an environmental handling fee is applied at purchase. Like the fee on the electronics that we’ve had for years, purchasers of grain bags, in this case Saskatchewan farmers, pay the handling fee when they buy or import grain bags.”

The Saskatchewan grain bag handling fee, the first of its kind in the Canadian agricultural industry, has been in place since November 2018. Saskatchewan farmers who use grain bags for storage will see it on sales receipts as they purchase grain bags for the coming harvest. The fee is 25 cents a kilogram which can amount to about $31 on a 9-foot by 200-foot grain bag that can cost several hundred dollars.

“The ban on single use plastics the government proposed this week largely focuses on residential packaging and products. But governments are also concerned about overall waste reduction and diversion to help reduce plastic litter, landfills and the carbon footprint of packaging of all types. This means that non-durable products and packaging that don’t currently have programs or that have low recycling recovery rates may be regulated down the road,” Friesen says.

Cleanfarms is a not-for-profit stewardship organization established 10 years ago to manage agricultural plastic and other wastes generated on farms across Canada. Cleanfarms has developed a series of successful programs to recover and recycle or properly dispose of plastic ag waste. It continually looks for opportunities to expand existing programs and create new ones that incorporate all agricultural single use plastics to help keep Canadian farm communities clean and environmentally healthy.



Barbara McConnell, Cleanfarms Media

Alberta Agricultural Recycling Group Names Cleanfarms as Recycling Pilot Program Operator

Calgary, AB – The Agricultural Plastics Recycling Group (APRG) through the Alberta Beef Producers (ABP) announced that they have selected Cleanfarms as the program operator for a three-year pilot program to collect agricultural grain bags and twine for recycling.

Cleanfarms was successful in meeting the qualifications set out in an expression of interest for the provincial program. Cleanfarms will handle program logistics including collection and transportation to recycle the materials. Other responsibilities include market research for all types of agricultural plastics, a waste characterization study to determine plastic volumes and materials, surveys to producers, and education about the program. Cleanfarms is a Canadian non-profit organization that delivers recycling and disposal solutions that help farmers and their communities safely manage farm waste. 

The success of Cleanfarms’ programs highlights the commitment of farmers, manufacturers, retailers, distributors, municipalities, and provinces to agricultural environmental responsibility and sustainability. Cleanfarms draws on over 30 years of experience implementing programs to collect and divert agricultural waste from landfills, waterways, and on-farm burning.

“We look forward to our engagement with Cleanfarms as an experienced leader in agricultural plastics recycling,” stated Al Kemmere, APRG Chair. “We have had an extremely positive response from municipalities across the province who want to participate in this program. Our next step will be to engage those groups to determine the site locations with the goal to start material collection by early Fall.”

The program was announced on January 21, 2019 with funding from Alberta Agriculture and Forestry to establish an environmentally sustainable program to recycle agricultural plastics.

“Our team is keen to be involved in these pilots. Our experience working with hundreds of collection sites across the Prairies from retailers to municipalities, combined with the insight the APRG offers will help build a made-in-Alberta recycling program that provides producers with an efficient and convenient recycling program,” said Barry Friesen, general manager of Cleanfarms.

Funds for the pilot project were granted by the Government of Alberta and are administered by Alberta Beef Producers.

About the Agricultural Plastics Recycling Group

The APRG is a group made up of over 20 stakeholder organizations from sectors across the province representing municipalities, producers, non-profits, recyclers and retailers among others. For a full list of members and more details please visit www.aprg.ca.


Al Kemmere APRG Chairman and RMA President

About ABP

Alberta Beef Producers (ABP) is the democratic and representative organization that speaks and works on behalf of close to 18,000 cattle and beef producers in Alberta.  It is an organization of producers, run by producers, working for producers in all sectors of the cattle and beef industry and all areas of the province.  The mission of ABP is to strengthen the sustainability and competitiveness of the beef industry for the benefit of beef producers in Alberta.

Rich Smith, Executive Director
(403) 451-1183

About Cleanfarms

Cleanfarms is a Canadian non-profit industry stewardship organization committed to environmental responsibility through the proper management of agricultural packaging and product waste. Emulated internationally, Cleanfarms develops, implements and operates:

  • Canada-wide programs that collect and recycle empty, single-use pesticide and fertilizer containers, and collect and safely manage unwanted pesticide and old livestock medications;
  • seed and pesticide bag collection programs in eastern Canada with pilots in western Canada; and
  • a regulated grain bag recycling program in Saskatchewan.

Recovered agricultural plastics are recycled into new products such as farm drainage tile, flexible irrigation pipe and garbage bags.

For more information, visit Cleanfarms.ca

Barry Friesen, P.Eng., General Manager
416 622 4460 x 2230