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.


  • 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.