Cleanfarms programs to recycle and manage farm ag-plastic waste contributes to job creation and economic benefit in Alberta

Moose Jaw, SK (September 27, 2019) – According to a newly released study commissioned by the Recycling Council of Alberta, Cleanfarms’ recycling program in Alberta for agricultural plastic waste benefits the province’s economic and employment sectors, including job creation, wages, provincial tax benefit, capital investment and overall contribution to Alberta’s Gross Domestic Product.

Cleanfarms is a non-profit, industry-funded stewardship organization that manages the collection, recycling and safe disposal of certain agricultural plastics materials and old, unwanted pesticides and obsolete animal health products used on Canadian farms in food production. On behalf of members in the crop protection and animal health industries, Cleanfarms operates programs in Alberta that recover:

  • Empty pesticide and fertilizer jugs/containers for recycling (23L and under)
  • Empty non-deposit, bulk pesticide containers (23L and over) for recycling
  • Unwanted and obsolete agricultural pesticides and animal health products for secure, special disposal

The study, Quantifying the Economic Value of Alberta Recycling Programs, shows that Cleanfarms’ existing small container program (23L and under) results in 19 direct jobs which contributes $2.4 million in gross value added and $1.1 million in wages for collection, transportation and processing activities in the province[1]. The longer-term value, however, comes from increasing the number of tonnes recovered for recycling.

The study estimates that as Cleanfarms recovery programs expand, the impact of job growth increases, too. For every 1000 tonnes collected, 16 direct jobs are created that relate to recycling activities[2]. Looking at broader impacts that include direct, indirect and induced employment, not only in Alberta but in other provinces where materials are processed, the impact of Cleanfarms’ programs on employment is appreciable and increasing.

This fall, Cleanfarms, under contract with the Alberta Plastic Recycling Group, is launching a pilot program in 20 locations to collect empty plastic grain bags and plastic twine in farm operations.  Estimates suggest this pilot program, projected over 10 years in this study, could generate nearly eight tonnes of recovered used ag-plastic resulting in more than a significant number of additional jobs. (More information on Alberta pilot.)

Cleanfarms is best known in the agricultural community for its longest running and highly successful small container (23L and under) recycling program. Last year, Alberta farmers recycled 1.36 million containers.

The program has been operating in Alberta for the better part of 30 years…and over those years, $30 million has been directly invested in helping Alberta farms create sustainable, clean farm communities by managing their plastic waste and unwanted and obsolete pesticides and animal health medications.

The report was funded by Alberta Economic Development and Trade, Alberta Recycling Management Authority, Beverage Container Management Board and Cleanfarms.


[1] Quantifying the Economic Value of Alberta Recycling Programs, Table 4.10, page 83

[2] Quantifying the Economic Value of Alberta Recycling Programs, Table 4-3, page 86

Recovered containers awaiting baling and shipment to a recycling processor