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 |

Cleanfarms’ seed & pesticide bag collection micro-pilots: another first for Moose Jaw farmers and ag-retailers

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.

Want to learn more?

Stop by the Cleanfarms booth at the Canadian Seed Trade Association’s Semi-Annual Meeting in Ottawa.

Email us to join our mailing list.

Long term planning for an agricultural plastics recycling program in Manitoba starts this fall

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.

For more information or to join our distribution list, please email us.

Seed & pesticide bag micro-pilots now available in Moose Jaw

Farmers in the Moose Jaw region now have access to a Cleanfarms disposal program for empty seed and pesticide bags for the 2018 growing season.

Ontario and Quebec farmers have had access to a similar program since 2014. What started as a small-scale project with five sites has grown to an industry-funded, region-wide collection program. In 2017 alone, farmers returned almost 300,000 kilograms of bags.

Cleanfarms has had a number of inquiries from farmers, municipalities and industry about offering similar programming in Western Canada and we are now working with three ag-retailers in the Moose Jaw region to explore this.

This micro-pilot is only available to farmer-customers who use these three ag retailers. Customers will be provided with collection bags to hold their 22.5 kg (or smaller) seed and pesticide bags. Large one-tonne tote bags (supersacks) can be flattened and tied (with twine) in bundles of six or less.

In the near-term, the bags will be sent for energy recovery while other recycling options are explored.

We welcome the opportunity to connect with your account managers in the region to ensure this pilot best meets the needs of farmers in the area. Please email us to ensure that we have your local contacts on our mailing list.

We look forward to sharing our progress with the Canadian Seed Trade Association, seed companies and additional stakeholders as this work unfolds.

CTV News London profiles Ontario obsolete collections

Watch a CTV News London profile of the Ontario obsolete collections program.

CBC Saskatoon talks to Barry Friesen

The following article was written by Eric Anderson for CBC News

Company recycling pesticide and fertilizer containers takes aim at Sask. farms

Barry Friesen wants Saskatchewan farms to be as green as possible, and he’s spreading his message this week at the Farm Progress Show in Regina.

Friesen is the general manager of CleanFARMS, a not-for-profit company from Ontario that specializes in managing agricultural waste.

“We collect both pesticide and fertilizer containers for recycling and we also have an obsolete pesticide and animal health mitigation collection program,” Friesen explained.

The CleanFARMS programs works by having farmers return their obsolete chemicals, which they no longer use, to designated drop-off locations. The company then safely disposes of the products, free of charge.

Friesen sees the company filling an important need.

“Farmers are great hoarders, so to speak. They want to use everything they have and they don’t want to give it away. You find that after a few — maybe even 10 or 15 years — they have this stuff in their back shed that they were going to use but they find out that it’s something that they can’t use. So they want to get rid of it.”

The company gives instructions to those farmers who are returning old containers. (Twitter)

Listening to farmers

It seems Saskatchewan farmers are making the most of this program. In 2015, 90 tonnes of material was returned to drop-off locations throughout the province. In the past two years, the total has grown to 182 tonnes.

The waste is destroyed through high temperature incineration.

Friesen is hoping CleanFARMS — which is funded by farm chemical manufacturers — can improve its business by speaking with Saskatchewan farmers this week in Regina.

“It’s interesting to hear more from farmers and what their needs are. How farming practices are changing, and how we can evolve to better meet their needs.”