Cleanfarms: Helping Canadian Farmers One Tube or Container at a Time!

Author: Zaynab Domah, Business Assistant

Canada produces 75% of the world’s maple syrup. Caught your attention yet? Interestingly enough, 92% of the production originates from Quebec. Canadian farmers are also known around the world for wheat and canola, staple ingredients in some of our favourite dishes. Many Canadians probably never considered how certain food items ended up in our local grocery stores… I know I didn’t. Not until joining Cleanfarms for my fall 2022 Co-op term.

What have I learned over the past two months? Farming is incredibly complex. Whether it’s soil health, pest, or disease pressures, maintaining biodiversity, or highly technical equipment… farmers must develop a wide range of expertise to ensure that they can manage the day-to-day realities of their businesses (which was in constant change throughout the pandemic) while delivering high quality, affordable food to consumers.

The plastics that farmers use are equally diverse and complex. One of my major projects at Cleanfarms is to assist the organization in preparing to help its current members, and potentially new ones, meet new regulatory requirements in Quebec. (I have a front-row seat to Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) in action!).

So much goes on behind the scenes before an item, whether it is a fertilizer container or a plastic tube that gets sap to a collection tank before it ends up as maple syrup, even gets to a collection site.

This is exacting work that involves desktop research to determine weights, plastic types, sizing, and dimensions. Some might call it unexciting, but I know it is important and will be appreciated for years to come. Why, you ask? Well, this data is fundamental to the development of recycling programs that work. And this is something that farmers value. They want to recycle ag plastics, divert them from landfills and decrease our collective carbon footprint, one container or segment of tubing at a time.

From my perspective, as a student studying environmental sciences, the objectives, and values at Cleanfarms align very closely with my own and just as importantly, are a key helping hand to Canadian farmers. Although my journey with Cleanfarms has just started, I can confidently say that they have successfully embodied the old saying: “Teamwork makes the dream work” which is critical to almost every aspect of the farming sector. That being said, maybe the next time you visit the produce section of your local grocery store, you will join me in sending bravos to our hardworking farmers and the people working diligently to support them!

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