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.

Cleanfarms Collecting Agricultural Baler Twine in PEI for Recycling

Cleanfarms and Island Waste Management Corporation have launched a pilot project enabling PEI farmers to recycle used agricultural baler twine. – Cleanfarms photo

ETOBICOKE, Ontario (June 8, 2021) – PEI farmers produce an estimated 66 tonnes of used agricultural baler twine annually, according to a Cleanfarms study. Until recently, recycling programs to manage this material when it was no longer needed were not available. But that has changed.

Under a new Cleanfarms project launched in partnership with the Island Waste Management Corporation (IWMC), farmers can now recycle their used agricultural baler twine, and in the process, advance their farm sustainability goals.

Cleanfarms is a national industry stewardship organization that develops and operates programs to collect and recycle waste agricultural plastics giving farmers more opportunities to be stewards of their land for their own farm communities and for next generations.

“By making it possible for PEI farmers to recycle used baler twine, we are helping them keep their farms clean and free of waste ag plastic materials. What’s more, we’re feeding the circular economy by retaining the value of these natural resources and reinvesting it to make new products. It’s a welcome outcome for everyone,” said Barry Friesen, Cleanfarms executive director.

The collection sites are located at six facilities around the province that already collect waste plastic bale wrap from farmers under an IWMC program. Under that existing agreement, Cleanfarms picks up the collected waste ag bale wrap and transports it to North American recycling facilities.

“PEI has a strong commitment to waste management programs that recover waste materials for recycling. IWMC welcomes this new partnership opportunity to work with Cleanfarms to expand recycling options for farmers. Keeping waste ag plastics like used baler twine out of our landfills is another step toward a more effective waste management program in our province,” said Karen MacDonald, IWMC Chief Executive Officer.

Used baler twine not only takes up space in landfill sites, it also can be particularly troublesome because it can wrap around and cause damage to landfill equipment.

“The PEI Federation of Agriculture is eager to see the implementation of a baler twine collection pilot project on PEI,” said PEIFA President Ron Maynard. “This initiative gives Island farmers a new way to demonstrate their commitment to environmental sustainability, and we hope that it will become a permanent and efficient way to recycle a much needed farm input.”

In provinces throughout the country, Cleanfarms operates permanent programs that collect and recycle pesticide and fertilizer small and large 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.

PEI joins Quebec, Saskatchewan, Ontario and British Columbia in collecting baler twine in a series of pilots that Cleanfarms is operating across Canada this year to expand collection of used ag plastics from farms.

The Cleanfarms pilots across the country 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.

“We are excited that this PEI twine pilot is the first Cleanfarms CASPP project to take place in Atlantic Canada. It’s an important inaugural step for Cleanfarms, for IWMC and for PEI farmers because until now, there has been no recycling option for this vital farm operation tool,” Friesen said.

Details for Recycling

To participate in the program, farmers will be asked to get a Cleanfarms recycling bag from their ag retailer or an IWMC collection site. There is no charge for the bag. After shaking to remove as much debris as possible, farmers place the loose twine in the recycling bag, secure the top of the bag tightly with twine or a zip tie and poke a few small holes in the bottom to drain any water. The bags make the twine easier to contain, transport and keep clean. Farmers drop off the bags at a local twine recycling collection site at no charge. Netting is not accepted in this collection program.

Learn more at cleanfarms.ca

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

Karen MacDonald, IWMC Chief Executive Officer, Island Waste Management Corporation
1-888-280-8111
kmacdonald@iwmc.pe.ca

Bruce Farmers Working with Cleanfarms on Ag Zero Waste Strategy

Use baler twine will be collected for recycling in the Cleanfarms pilot program launching in Bruce County. – Cleanfarms photo

ETOBICOKE, Ontario (June 4, 2021) – Farmers in Bruce County are playing a crucial role in a network of farmers from BC to PEI who are working with Cleanfarms in various pilot projects to help develop a leading-edge zero plastic waste strategy for Canadian agriculture.

Participants in these pilots are farmers/producers who operate farms involving livestock where livestock feed such as hay and silage is used. This feed needs to be wrapped and stored, often for months, requiring tonnes of ag plastics such as baler twine, silage bags, bunker covers and bale wrap.

The most common practice across the country is to landfill the plastic or discard it on the farm.

“The common thread linking the participating farmers in Bruce County with the others in pilots across Canada is a desire to manage these materials when they are no longer needed. Used ag plastics can be hard to deal with on the farm yet we know farmers welcome solutions for managing these materials in environmentally responsible ways,” said Cleanfarms Executive Director, Barry Friesen. “The objective of our pilot programs is to work with farmers to identify and develop efficient systems to recover these materials so they are recycled, fueling the Canadian circular economy.”

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 is a national industry stewardship organization that develops and operates programs to collect and recycle waste agricultural plastics giving farmers more opportunities to be stewards of their land for their own farm communities and for next generations. These programs also help farmers keep their operations clean and tidy.

Ag plastics like most plastic products and packaging can be recycled into new products. The challenges are two-fold: how to store it on the farm until it can be taken to recycling collection sites and ensuring stable recycling end markets that want the materials as feedstock for new plastic products.

Ag plastic is used to make new products such as farm drainage tile, flexible irrigation pipe and plastic bags.

As part of the three-year pilot project that is launching next week in Bruce County, Cleanfarms is giving farmers an essential tool in the way of large plastic collection bags.  Farmers are encouraged to place each material type – twine, bale wrap or bunker covers – in separate collection bags, tie them shut, then transport them to a recycling collection location. The plastic bags will hold up to 15 kg of material. The collection bag program is open to everyone who uses this material in Bruce County.

Collection bags are available from any of four participating municipal pilot collection sites:

  • Eastnor Waste Disposal Site, 1252 West Road, Lion’s Head
  • Arran Landfill, 671 Sideroad 20 Arran, Tara
  • Brant Landfill, 57 Concession Road 8, Elmwood (Brockton residents)
  • Greenock Landfill, 564 Concession 10, Chepstow (Brockton residents)

In a separate part of the pilot in Bruce County, Cleanfarms is providing an ag plastic press to four farm locations. The press enables farmers to compress between 200 and 250 loose plastic silage and bale wrap into dense bales weighing an average of 450 kg. Farmers who use the ag press report positive results noting it is easier to handle the plastic, the plastic stays cleaner and therefore more recyclable, and the press saves time. For example, on-farm presses reduced the number of trips farmers have to make to the collection locations. Pre-baled plastic also helped reduce transportation costs.

The Cleanfarms pilots across the country 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.

Netting is not accepted in this Cleanfarms collection program.

Learn more at this Cleanfarms webpage.

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 Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan; Lethbridge, Alberta; Etobicoke, Ontario; and St-Bruno, Quebec.

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

 

Canadian Farmers Set Record Recycling Rate for Ag-Plastic Jugs –76% in 2020

In 2020, the recycling rate for empty ag plastic pesticide and fertilizer containers surged to 76% from 71% in 2019.

ETOBICOKE, ON (May 31, 2021) – Every year for the past 32 years, Cleanfarms has calculated the rolling three-year average recycling rate of agricultural pesticide and fertilizer containers that are 23L and smaller. The great news is that the 2020 recycling rate just calculated shows another major surge in recycling these containers in 2020 at 76% compared to 71% in 2019. This sets an all-time record for recycling empty ag plastic jugs in Canada.

The recycling rate measures the percentage of containers collected for recycling compared to the number of containers sold into the market in that year. The three-year rolling average recovery rate evens out the rate over three years taking into consideration factors which could cause variations such as differing needs due to weather. The rolling average rate in 2018 was 64%.

“Canadian farmers deserve huge credit for these unparalleled results,” said Cleanfarms Executive Director Barry Friesen. “They are bringing back rinsed, empty containers in increasing numbers year over year, which means more of these ag plastic jugs are getting recycled into new products in a circular economy.”

In total, farmers returned more than 5.5 million pesticide and fertilizer jugs 23L and smaller in 2020. Placed end to end, that number of containers collected in one year would stretch from Montreal, Quebec to Brandon, Manitoba.

Canadian farmers typically purchase crop input products such as fertilizers and pesticides in easy-to-handle 23L jugs. The crop protection industry started a volunteer stewardship program for empty containers in 1989. In 2010, Cleanfarms took over the program and expanded it nationally. Until four years ago, the recycling rate hovered annually between 60% and 65%.

In addition to farmers, Cleanfarms attributes the increased recycling rate to the more than 1,200 ag-retail and municipal operations across the country that run recycling collection sites and that work with farmers to get the empty, rinsed containers back. Cleanfarms is also developing incentive programs like offering free recycling collection bags that make it easier for farmers to collect, store and transport empty containers.

“For the last few years in our promotion and education materials we’ve been asking farmers to bring back 100% of their empty containers. We want to recycle every one of them and it looks like we’re getting closer to that goal,” Friesen said. “We know Canadian farmers are committed stewards of their land and that they want to be environmentally responsible when it comes to how they manage this plastic ag packaging on their farms. We are grateful that they are responding positively to these programs,” Friesen said.

Recovered agricultural plastics are recycled 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, fertilizer, seed, animal health medication, bale wrap and grain bag industries. It has staff located in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan; Lethbridge, Alberta; Etobicoke, Ontario; and St-Bruno, Quebec.

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

Cleanfarms Releases 2020 Annual Report Highlighting Gains in Collecting Ag-Waste for Recycling

Farmers/producers across Canada returned more than 5.5M empty pesticide and fertilizer jugs to Cleanfarms for recycling in 2020 bringing the total since the program began to 137.4M recycled. – Cleanfarms photo

ETOBICOKE, ON – Cleanfarms released its 2020 Annual Report last week highlighting the performance of its permanent programs and pilot projects that recover used agricultural products and packaging for recycling or environmentally responsible disposal.

The recovery numbers reflected in the report show clearly that Canadian farmers will use environmental programs that help them manage ag waste like pesticide and fertilizer containers, grain bags, baler twine, unwanted and old pesticides, livestock and equine medications, seed and pesticide bags, and more when they have access to them.

Despite the challenges of a year restrained by the COVID-19 pandemic, farmers/producers returned more than 5.5 million pesticide and fertilizer jugs 23 litres and smaller, on par with 2019 numbers when there was no pandemic to interfere with the open dates of collection locations. The 2020 collection brought the total number of jugs recovered for recycling since the beginning of the program in 1989 to more than 137.4 million.

Placed end to end, that number of containers would stretch around the world at the equator 1.3 times. Plastic containers are recycled into new products such as farm drainage tile.

In the Prairie provinces, a growing number of farmers/producers are using grain bags as temporary storage for cereal grains. In Saskatchewan, where recycling grain bags is regulated under a provincial program, the amount returned has doubled to 2,536 tonnes since inception of the regulated program in 2018. Of the farmers who use grain bags, 59% report they recycle them.

The combination of grain bags, baler twine and ag-film collected in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta added up to about 6,900 tonnes since these materials started to be collected in Cleanfarms-operated pilot projects.

The collection of empty agricultural seed, pesticide and fertilizer bags in Eastern Canada stayed fairly constant in 2020 with a little less than 421,000 kgs collected in 2020, down about two percent from 2019 numbers. Eastern Canada’s ag retail collection sites opened in July instead of May due to COVID-19 safety precautions, which likely contributed to the slight drop. Seed, pesticide and fertilizer bags are collected for environmentally responsible disposal.

At the core of Cleanfarms’ commitment to help farmers manage agriculture packaging and products responsibly is its program to collect unwanted pesticide and old livestock/equine medications. Operated in partnership with the Canadian Animal Health Institute, the program provides an essential, no-cost service to farmers allowing them to take old, obsolete materials to Cleanfarms drop-off locations. The program rotates to all regions of Canada every three years. In 2020, farmers in the British Columbia’s Vancouver Island and Fraser Valley, southern Saskatchewan, Quebec and Prince Edward Island took materials to collection events.  In total, more than 298,000 kgs of unwanted pesticides and 3,380 kg of obsolete farm animal medications were collected and transported by a licensed waste hauler to specialized facilities where they are disposed of safely.

Pilot projects in Alberta, Manitoba and Quebec focused on collecting grain bags, bale and silage wrap and baler twine as a means of collecting information about participation levels, collection systems and end-market development. This information will aid Cleanfarms in expanding these programs to regions across Canada where they can have the largest impact on effectively managing agricultural non-organic waste generated on Canadian farms.

“Cleanfarms’ industry-funded programs give farmers options to manage ag waste in ways that help them steward their land for present and future generations,” said Cleanfarms General Manager Barry Friesen. “Our goal is to help farmers reduce the amount of waste generated behind the farmgate, and to offer programs that help farmers fuel the circular economy by recycling instead of having to landfill these materials.”

Information about Cleanfarms programs is available at cleanfarms.ca

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 Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan; Lethbridge, Alberta; Etobicoke, Ontario; and St-Bruno, Quebec.

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

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 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)