Canada’s Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Marie-Claude Bibeau, learned firsthand how Canadian farmers/growers are adopting practices to expand the return of used agricultural plastics so these resource materials can be recycled, helping to feed Canada’s emerging circular economy.
Hosted Wednesday, June 7 by AgriRÉCUP, Minister Bibeau met with Executive Director, Barry Friesen to tour the Écocentre de Sainte-Scholastique, in Mirabel, Quebec. AgriRÉCUP is Cleanfarms’ operation in Quebec. The ecocenter works as a partner of AgriRÉCUP by operating a collection site where farmers can take used agricultural packaging and products so they can be recycled. AgriRÉCUP consolidates the materials and transports them to recycling facilities as part of our mandate as an industry stewardship organization to recover used plastic products and packaging for recycling or safe disposal on behalf of ag industry brand owners.
Also on hand to welcome the Minister were Patrick Charbonneau, Mayor of Mirabel; as well as other Mirabel representatives; Stéphane Michaud, General Manager, Corporation for the Protection of the Environment; Danny Laramée, Division Head, Corporation for the Protection of the Environment; and Jérôme Duguay, Director of Environmental Services.
Ag plastics are important tools that help farmers store feed for their livestock, bring crop inputs to their farm, and control moisture.
Cleanfarms/AgriRÉCUP and the federal Agriculture Ministry, under the leadership of Minister Bibeau, have worked collaboratively in several Canadian provinces since 2019 in a multi-year project aimed at increasing farmers’ access to recycling programs and exploring ways to deliver long-term, permanent programs. The pilots will help Canadian farmers continue to improve the sustainability of their operations. The 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.
Developing better management options for ag plastics recovery and recycling is central to Cleanfarms/ AgriRÉCUP’s goal of “Building a Zero-Plastic-Waste Strategy for Agriculture”. Cleanfarms designs the pilots to ground-proof concepts and practical operations to recover the ag plastic materials that farmers regularly use. The aim is to increase the amount of ag plastic collected so that less of it is disposed of in landfills or burned or buried behind farm gates. Burning and burying plastics releases toxins into the environment.
The agricultural industry in Quebec generates about 11,000* tonnes of agricultural plastic waste annually. AgriRÉCUP has been operating comprehensive, multi-material pilot programs for three years to recover these plastic resources for recycling in the circular economy.
Used ag plastics collected at the ecocentre include livestock silage bags, bale wrap, twine and tarps. When recycled, these products are remanufactured into new products such as plastic bags, construction sheeting, composite dimensional lumber, and agricultural fence posts.
Minister Bibeau represents the Riding of Compton-Stanstead in Quebec. Appointed the federal Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food in 2019, she is the first woman in Canadian history to hold the position.
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, ag plastics industries. It has staff located in Lethbridge, Alberta; Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan; Winnipeg, Manitoba; Etobicoke, Ontario; and St-Bruno, Quebec.
*Quantity based on Recyc Québec 2019 Ag plastics study