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.
Contact: Barbara McConnell, Cleanfarms Media