Earth Week Signals Start of Agricultural Jug Recycling Again

Moose Jaw, SK (April 19, 2021) – This week, April 19 to 25, is Earth Week and with it comes a reminder to Canadian farmers that the annual agricultural plastic jug recycling program is about to start again, says Cleanfarms, the national stewardship organization that recovers agricultural waste like plastic jugs for recycling.

Cleanfarms’ program for empty containers runs from May to October coast to coast, and during that time more than 1,100 collection locations work with Cleanfarms accepting millions of empty plastic containers 23L and under for recycling. The program keeps these resource materials out of the environment and reinvested in the circular economy.

Last year alone, Canadian farmers brought back more than 5.5 million empty containers bringing the total since the jug collection program began more than 30 years ago to 137.4 million containers returned for recycling.

Cleanfarms estimates that, as of 2019, the three-year average collection rate has increased to over 70% of the containers returned for recycling, up from the previous rate of 65%. The recycling rate for 2020 will be released in June.

“We’re challenging Canadian farmers to make a commitment this Earth Week to bring back all of the ag plastic jugs they use in their farm operations. We want 100% of them this year,” said Cleanfarms Executive Director Barry Friesen.

“Our research shows that farmers want ag waste management programs that help them fulfil environmental responsibility goals and to operate their farms more sustainably for themselves and for future generations. They are eager to participate in programs that help them keep their farms and farm communities clean,” he added.

In addition to empty small plastic ag containers for pesticides and fertilizers, Cleanfarms also operates:

  • a nation-wide recycling program for large non-deposit plastic totes and drums for pesticides and fertilizers
  • a nation-wide collection and proper disposal program for unwanted pesticides and old, obsolete livestock and equine medications
  • recycling programs for grain bags and twine on the prairies, and
  • a disposal program for seed and pesticide bags in eastern Canada and fertilizer bags in Quebec

“Cleanfarms works with farmers and farming organizations to set up recycling and responsible disposal programs that give farmers peace of mind that these waste resource materials are managed responsibly when they are no longer needed or wanted,” Friesen said.

Recycled agricultural plastics are manufactured into new products such as farm drainage tile, flexible irrigation pipe and plastic bags.

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, seed, fertilizer, animal health medication and grain bag industries. It has staff located in Lethbridge, Alberta; Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan; Ottawa and Etobicoke, Ontario; and St-Bruno, Quebec.

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

Cleanfarms participates in Agriculture & Agri-Food Canada Announcement re: Managing on-farm plastic waste and growing the bioeconomy

Today the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, the Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, announced funding of more than $4.5 million for five new projects that will improve plastic waste management and on-farm sustainability, and advance bioplastics research. The minister made the announcement alongside Cleanfarms, which will receive up to $1.1 million through the Canadian Agricultural Strategic Priorities Program to develop a strategy to responsibly manage the estimated 60,000 tonnes of plastic waste generated on Canadian farms every year. View the Minister’s announcement and information about Cleanfarms’ Building a Zero-Plastic-Waste Strategy for Agriculture project.

Cleanfarms welcomes Anna Potapova as Senior Coordinator to help expand ag plastics recycling in Quebec

Cleanfarms is proud to welcome Anna Potapova to our team as Senior Coordinator for ag plastics recovery and recycling programming in Quebec. Trained as an agricultural economist and with a commitment to promoting sustainability in agriculture, Anna will provide support to expand a series of pilot programs in Quebec to recover and recycle waste materials from farms across the province.  She will provide support for existing programs and set up new pilots across the province over the months ahead.

She joins the team with over 10 years experience working in the province’s agricultural industry. Most recently, as Agricultural and Agri-Food Development Commissioner with the Regional County Municipality of Maskoutains, she worked closely with Cleanfarms to develop the pilot program to recover bale wrap, twine and netting from at three pilot sites. These operations are in progress now and yielding important insights for development of new pilots in more communities throughout Quebec.

“Managing plastic waste effectively is a priority and Quebec farmers across the province are embracing new opportunities to recover and recycle agricultural wastes through Cleanfarms programs,” said Barry Friesen, Cleanfarms Executive Director. “Anna brings a depth of expertise in agricultural program management in Quebec that will help bring recycling opportunities to many new communities so more materials can be managed safely and kept out of landfill.”

Working closely with Eastern Regional Manager Christine Lajeunesse, Anna will develop plans and work with regions, municipalities, retailers, distributors, recyclers and farmers to establish successful operations.  Her work will focus on strategic planning, budgeting, managing logistics, confirming end markets for recovered materials, working with community members and government representatives to guide the pilots through development to successful operation.

Anna can be reached 450-641-4948 | potapovaa@cleanfarms.ca

Cleanfarms Predicting 2020 a Successful Year for Collecting Ag Waste for Recycling and Safe Disposal

By Barry Friesen, Executive Director, Cleanfarms

(Etobicoke, ON – December 23, 2020) – As the final days of 2020 wind down, we can look forward to the new year with optimism that we will wrestle COVID-19 into submission. However, we cannot let 2020 go into the history books with only the COVID story to mark it. We can celebrate memorable achievements, too.

For one thing, at Cleanfarms, we celebrated our 10th anniversary. In the decade since 2010, we’ve gone from operating two programs to collect empty pesticide jugs and obsolete pesticides to operating five permanent programs to capture small pesticide and fertilizer containers and grain bags for recycling; recover non-deposit drums and totes; and collect seed and fertilizer bags in eastern Canada and unwanted and old pesticides and farm animal health medications nationally for safe disposal.

In addition, we have been operating pilot programs in Quebec, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta to point the way to recover more ag plastic waste for products like used twine, grain bags and silage wrap. Giving farmers opportunities to recycle plastic waste not only ensures that it stays out of the environment but also reinvests the raw materials and energy into a circular economy, creates green jobs, inspires innovation in agricultural packaging and contributes to greater sustainability in agriculture.

2020’s COVID challenges did create a delay in getting our container collection programs underway in many areas of Canada to ensure we minimized the spread of the virus; however, once social distancing protocols were properly in place, all collections began. Despite the delay, we are optimistic that farmers may have set a new record for returning small pesticide and fertilizer containers (23 litres and under) for recycling.

Final results will be calculated in the new year, but it appears that farmers were eager to return more empty containers than ever before, helping Cleanfarms get past the 65% return rate we’ve been holding at over the past few years. In 2019, farmers brought back nearly 5.5 million containers so we have a big number to top. Similar positive results may be true for the return of non-deposit pesticide and fertilizer drums and totes, too.

It looks like grain bag recycling across the Prairies enjoyed a stellar year, as well. Through its Saskatchewan office, Cleanfarms has been running the government-regulated grain bag recycling program in the province since 2018. In 2019, Saskatchewan farmers recycled 2,256 tonnes of used plastic grain bags, a 44 per cent increase in volume over 2018. So far in 2020, we know SK farmers have recycled just over 2,700 tonnes, a 20% increase over last year!

And it keeps getting better.

The unwanted pesticide and old livestock and equine medications program is another success story. Preliminary results show that this program, which collected materials in British Columbia’s Vancouver Island and Fraser Valley, Southern Saskatchewan, Quebec and Prince Edward Island, enjoyed excellent participation from farmers.

What’s ahead for 2021?

I’ve been in the business of resource recovery and waste management for more than 25 years and this year feel more optimistic than ever about the innovation, new developments and opportunities for plastics used for packaging and one-way products. The degree of effort that ag industry stewards of plastic packaging have been putting toward finding solutions to contribute to the sustainability of plastics is phenomenal. In the agricultural sector, the 70 plus member companies of Cleanfarms want to ensure that the products they market are safe, reliable and meet product standards, both for the products and for the packaging.

Farmers want the assurance that when they use these products, options are available to manage the packaging or the used product at end-of-life, too.

Cleanfarms members are at work now figuring out how to transition packaging to more sustainable options. Fewer jugs, more totes and reusable containers, greater use of post consumer recycled materials will be part of the strategy. Many of these circular economy improvements won’t be obvious. Farmers won’t see the changes, but they’ll be there. What they will see is more opportunities to recycle, expanding their ability to leave their land as good or better than they got it.

Barry Friesen is the executive director of Cleanfarms and has led the organization since its creation in 2010. 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, seed, fertilizer, animal health medication and grain bag industries. It has offices 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

Farmers and Other Stakeholders Invited to Comment on Manitoba Plan to Transition to Permanent Ag Plastic Waste Recycling

MOOSE JAW, SK (December 16, 2020) – A pilot project in Manitoba that collects and recycles plastic agricultural waste such as grain bags and baler twine is set to transition to a permanent, province-wide, industry-funded ag recycling program in 2021. The organization that operates the provincially-funded pilot, Cleanfarms, has been asked by Manitoba Conservation and Climate (MCC) to develop and consult on a stewardship transition plan

Cleanfarms has developed a first draft of the plan, Manitoba Ag Plastic Plan, and is inviting farmers, companies that supply ag plastics to farmers and other stakeholders to comment on it. Written comments on this version can be submitted until January 12, 2021. They should be sent to Cleanfarms’ Manager of Stakeholder Relations, Kim Timmer at timmerk@cleanfarms.ca

Comments are encouraged from producer groups, industry and municipal associations, as well as Manitoba farmers.

Cleanfarms developed the plan based on data collected in the Manitoba pilots and on best practices honed over years of running similar ag waste recycling programs across the Prairies. Part of the goal is to harmonize ag waste recycling programs in the Prairie provinces.

Once comments are received and processed, a second version of the plan will be submitted to MCC on January 30, 2021. Cleanfarms hopes to receive final plan approval from the provincial government by the end of March so that it can begin transition to the industry-funded model in early spring.

Funding for the permanent program will be managed through an Environmental Handling Fee (EHF) collected by companies that supply farmers with grain bags and twine at the time these items are purchased.

“Grain bags and twine are valuable tools that farmers use to grow food and to operate their farms more efficiently. However, these materials can be difficult to manage effectively at end of life. The Cleanfarms stewardship program would see them recycled into new products, such as plastic bags,” noted Cleanfarms Executive Director Barry Friesen.

Estimates suggest that approximately 1,400 tonnes of non-organic ag plastic waste are generated by Manitoba farms annually.

In 2019, Manitoba farmers returned 51 tonnes of ag plastic waste in the pilot program, up from 34 metric tonnes the year before.

“Studies have shown us that Manitoba farmers want recycling programs. We’re anticipating that should a permanent program move ahead, we’ll see the number of recovered tonnes start to climb steadily. And that’s good for Manitoba’s sustainable agriculture sector and the environment,” Friesen said.

About Cleanfarms

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, seed, fertilizer, animal health medication and grain bag industries.

A list of pilot collection sites is available on the Cleanfarms/Manitoba page on the Cleanfarms website.

Cleanfarms Launches Saskatchewan Pilot to Collect Baler Twine for Recycling

– Part of Cleanfarms’ Zero Plastic Waste Strategy for Farms-

MOOSE JAW, SK – (December 10, 2020) — Cleanfarms took a giant step closer to its goal of helping producers achieve zero plastic waste in farming operations today, as it launches a pilot program in Saskatchewan to collect baler twine for recycling.

Baler twine is an essential agricultural tool to wrap and store hay, straw and silage, but at the end of its useful life, plastic twine is challenging to manage. Disposal in landfill can result in the twine twisting around the wheels of landfill equipment and disposal by burning or burying is detrimental to the environment. In Saskatchewan alone, an estimated 1,100 to 1,300 tonnes of twine are used in farm operations.

“Beyond collecting empty grain bags for recycling, the next most important item for us to focus on is twine. Getting it out of landfill and burn piles and into recycling bags has been a Cleanfarms goal for the past few years,” said Cleanfarms Executive Director Barry Friesen.

He said that this Saskatchewan pilot, which will involve more than 30 collection locations will lay the groundwork for permanent programs for twine and other agricultural plastic wastes that will be implemented in farm communities throughout Canada.

“Saskatchewan farmers’ participation in this program will help us understand how to create a circular economy for the recovery of twine once farmers are finished with it,” Friesen added.

He pointed to the Cleanfarms program, ‘Building a Zero-Plastic Waste Strategy for Agriculture”, which is partially funded by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s Canadian Agricultural Strategic Priorities Program (CASPP)* as the catalyst that has made this pilot possible.

The Cleanfarms project has three broad-based objectives:

  • to build consensus on the appropriate management of non-organic agricultural waste;
  • to survey farmers to establish current patterns of disposal before and after pilots and education programs; and
  • to demonstrate best practices in ag waste management through pilot programs conducted throughout Canada.

Already underway is the grower survey component which is targeted for completion in December. The survey asks growers about current practices and attitudes toward disposal options for various types of agricultural plastic waste generated in their operations. The results will inform the development of additional pilot projects that will be conducted throughout the agriculture sector.

Some pilots in Quebec are already operating; others, like the Saskatchewan twine pilots are getting underway now. Pilots are also expected to roll out in the northern interior of British Columbia as well as in specific areas of Alberta, Ontario and Prince Edward Island in 2021.

All the pilots are designed to demonstrate the best practices critical in successful ag waste management. They will help Cleanfarms determine how to provide farmers with more opportunities to manage plastic waste in environmentally responsible ways.

About Cleanfarms

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, crop storage, ag plastic and animal health industries.

For a list of pilot collection sites go to Saskatchewan Pilot Program: Recycling Twine on the Cleanfarms.ca website.

*This project is funded in part by the Government of Canada through Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s Canadian Agricultural Strategic Priorities Program (CASPP), a $50.3 million, five-year investment to help the agricultural sector adapt and remain competitive.

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

Plastic twine is commonly used in farm operations to bind hay, straw and silage for storage, but at the end of its useful life, twine is challenging to manage. This Cleanfarms pilot aims to develop a stable recycling program for agricultural twine (Photo: Cleanfarms)

 

“P.E.I. farmers dispose of unused farm pesticides and medications despite COVID-19”: Cleanfarms featured in CBC’s PEI News Report

Screen capture from CBC PEI, Nov. 13, 2020Cleanfarms’ Executive Director Barry Friesen had a chance to meet up with CBC’s Nancy Russell in New Perth, PEI, to discuss the collection program for unwanted pesticides & old/obsolete livestock & equine medications that finished up in province on November 13, and a range of other programs in progress or in development.

Visit: P.E.I. farmers dispose of unused farm pesticides and medications despite COVID-19

 

Six Collection Locations Added to ‘Alberta Ag-plastic. Recycle It!’ Grain Bag and Twine Recycling Program

– Number of collection sites across Alberta expanded to 26 – 

Lethbridge, AB (October 21, 2020) – As of early October, six new locations came onboard as collection sites that are open and ready to accept empty agricultural grain bags and used twine for recycling. This increases the total number of collection locations in the ‘Alberta Ag-plastic. Recycle It!’ pilot program from 20 to 26.

The six new sites include:

  • Clear Hills County at the Cleardale Transfer Station
  • County of Forty Mile No. 8 at the Foremost Transfer Station
  • County of Minburn at the Mannville Waste Transfer Station
  • Cypress County at the Hilda Transfer Station
  • Flagstaff County at the Flagstaff Waste Regional Landfill
  • MD of Provost at the Provost Regional Landfill

The list of existing collection sites can be found on the Cleanfarms website on the Alberta Ag-plastic. Recycle It!’ pilot program page. Most existing sites are currently taking rolled, tied grain bags of any size, and twine for recycling. Some, however, just take grain bags and a few take only twine.

“The pilot is on track with plans to expand access to grain bag and twine recycling collection sites. Ensuring Alberta farmers have every opportunity to recycle these plastic ag materials is imperative,” said Cleanfarms’ Executive Director Barry Friesen. “The plastics used in these agricultural tools are valuable resources and should be recovered and recycled in a circular economy.”

Cleanfarms operates the ‘Alberta Ag-plastic. Recycle It!’ pilot on behalf of the Agricultural Plastics Recycling Group (APRG) and started collection in October 2019. The project is being funded through a grant from the Government of Alberta and administered by Alberta Beef Producers.

Lisa Sulz sees this recycling program as a win-win for everyone. She is the agricultural fieldman for Cypress County which surrounds Medicine Hat.

“If we can keep these plastics out of the environment and recycle them, then why not. The more we can keep out of landfill and the environment, the better. Grain bags are bulky and take up a lot of room in landfill cells, and cells are expensive to build,” she said. “There is no question that county rate payers benefit from this agricultural recycling program.”

Stacey Barrows, who with her husband, Brent, farms 4,300 acres in the County of Forty Mile, in the southeast corner of Alberta, said farmers always want to be good stewards of their land.

“If we want our families to be able to stay on the farm, we need to think about the environment as a whole — the land, water, and air. We all need to recycle not only to keep our farms healthy, but also to teach younger generations to be stewards of the land, too,” Stacey emphasized.

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About Cleanfarms

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. Cleanfarms.ca

About the Agricultural Plastics Recycling Group 

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

Media Contacts

Barbara McConnell, Cleanfarms | 416-452-2373 | bmcconnell@cleanfarms.ca
Tammy Schwass, APRG | 403-835-6467 | tammy@albertaplasticsrecycling.com

 

The pilot project is led by the multi-stakeholder Agricultural Plastics Recycling Group; funds were granted by the Government of Alberta and are administered by Alberta Beef Producers.