“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


Cleanfarms Posts Increases in 2018 Ag-Plastic Recovery Programs

Cleanfarms continues to demonstrate that Canada’s agricultural community is committed to managing farm waste responsibly.

In its 2018 annual report just released, Cleanfarms recorded an increase in recovery of its Canada-wide empty small plastic container collection program of 14% by volume over 2017. In total, farmers brought back nearly 5.8 million empty containers (23L and under) for recycling into new products such as farm drainage tile.

Cleanfarms is a national non-profit industry stewardship organization that is funded by the Canadian crop protection, fertilizer, seed and agricultural plastics industries. The collection and recycling of empty agricultural pesticide and fertilizer containers is the best known and longest running of its ag-waste recovery programs. Overall, Cleanfarms’ mandate is to contribute to a healthier environment by recovering agricultural and related industry plastics, packaging and products for recycling or safe disposal.

“Despite the challenges of shrinking overseas markets for recycled commodities, Cleanfarms continued to meet its goal of sending all materials collected for recycling to end markets to be remanufactured into new products. This is a prime example of the circular economy at work in the agricultural community,” said Cleanfarms General Manager Barry Friesen.

Other Cleanfarms programs also posted increases in recovery. The collection of empty agricultural seed, pesticide and fertilizer bags in Eastern Canada climbed by 22% by volume over 2017. The largest increase occurred in Quebec where recovery numbers jumped to nearly 194,000 kg from about 110,000 kg in 2017.

Fueled by the success of this program in Eastern Canada, Cleanfarms is pilot testing the collection of seed, pesticide and fertilizer bags in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta in 2019. Empty bags are recovered for proper disposal instead of being buried in landfill sites.

At the core of Cleanfarms’ commitment to help farmers manage agriculture packaging and products responsibly is its unwanted pesticides and livestock medications collection program. Operated in partnership with the Canadian Animal Health Institute, the program provides an essential service to farmers allowing them to take old, obsolete and unwanted pesticides and livestock/equine medications to Cleanfarms drop-off locations. These materials are transported by a licensed waste hauler to specialized facilities where they are disposed of safely. The program rotates to all regions of Canada every three years. In 2018, 74 ag-retail partners in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Northern Saskatchewan, Southern Alberta and British Columbia collected for safe disposal a total of about 181,000 kg of unwanted commercial pesticides and nearly 2,500 kg of unwanted and obsolete livestock/equine medications.

2018 also marked the first year of the provincially-regulated grain bag recycling program in Saskatchewan. Though this program is just getting underway, it has already collected nearly 1,260 tonnes of grain bag plastic for recycling. The primary use for this recovered material is in the manufacture of garbage bags.

“Thanks to our industry members, Cleanfarms operates in the Canadian agricultural community as an important partner in helping farmers manage their farm operations responsibly and sustainably. That’s what drives us to develop and expand programs that offer continuous improvement in access and convenience,” Friesen said.

About Cleanfarms

Created in 2010, Cleanfarms is a Canadian non-profit industry stewardship organization committed to environmental responsibility through the proper management of agricultural packaging and product waste. It is a leader in developing, implementing and operating programs to recover agricultural non-organic products and packaging for recycling or proper disposal. Emulated internationally, Cleanfarms’ programs are available across Canada.

Recovered agricultural plastics are recycled into new products like farm drainage tile and garbage bags.


Contact: Barbara McConnell, Cleanfarms Communications
613-471-1816 | 877-622-4460 #4


Cleanfarms Calling for Farmers to Recycle 100% of Plastic Ag Jugs to Mark 30th Anniversary

Thirty years ago, the crop protection industry in Canada planted the seeds of a voluntary stewardship program in Prairie communities to collect empty agricultural plastic jugs for recycling.

The idea took root and since then, Cleanfarms has expanded the program across Canada bringing in a total of about 126 million plastic jugs that have been recycled into new products instead of disposed in landfill.

During Earth Week, April 22 to 28, Cleanfarms is celebrating the 30th anniversary of collecting plastic jugs 23L and under for recycling. As this foundational agricultural waste collection program grew, it cleared the path for Cleanfarms to introduce a broader range of programs to collect plastic farm waste materials such as empty seed, fertilizer and pesticide bags; silage wrap; large pesticide and fertilizer drums and totes; twine; and grain bags.

“We’re excited that we’ve been able to increase the recovery of empty containers thanks to Canadian farmers and more than 1,000 ag-retail and municipal collection sites across the country. In 2018, we recovered nearly 5.8 million containers, a 14% increase by volume over 2017,” said Barry Friesen, Cleanfarms general manager.

Currently, Cleanfarms recovers about 65% of the smaller plastic containers that are placed on the market each year.

“Our success in 2018 set us up to go after 100% recovery to celebrate our 30 thanniversary in 2019. We’re asking farmers who use these products to follow best practice and recycle every one of the empty containers when they’re finished with them. It’s a big ask but we know Canadian farmers are keen stewards of their land and are committed to environmental responsibility when it comes to how this packaging is managed,” Friesen said.

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

2018 Number of Small Plastic Containers 23L and under Recovery for Recycling by Province

2018 Number of Small Plastic Containers 23L and under Recovery for Recycling by Province


For further information: Barbara McConnell   |  877-622-4460  #4 | bmcconnell@cleanfarms.ca

Three takeaways from Aggie Days

Canadian farmers’ commitment to ag waste management highlighted in “Agricultural Innovation” special feature