Good conversations at the SARM convention

Author: Tammy Shields

A couple of weeks ago, I spent some time in Regina at the annual Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities (SARM) convention.

I’ve been to a number of these conventions, but this is the first year that I was there in my new role with Cleanfarms; one of the 7-plus industry-led stewardship organizations that help our residents and businesses safely manage and recycle variety of products.

This year’s event coincided with the announcement of our province’s new grain bag recycling program, so I had lots of conversations about how this long-anticipated program will roll out.

Over the next few weeks, I will be following up with communities to determine if their facilities are suitable for this type of collection program. In short, here is what we are asking collection site to provide:

  • A large enough area for trucks and trailers to maneuver
  • Space to consolidate a minimum of 140 rolled and secured grain bags
  • Human resources to facilitate phone calls and drop off

This will ensure the program runs smoothly and efficiently for municipalities and farmers.

Once a site has accumulated 18 tonnes, or roughly 120 to 140 grain bags, my priority is to make sure that the material is shipped out for recycling as quickly as possible. Stockpiling grain bags is not only an eyesore, but when not managed properly, it may lead to infestations and significantly impact logistics and recyclability if bales break open and ice/snow accumulates around them.

Grain bags are currently being shipped to overseas markets. In these facilities, you’ll often find consistent, large volumes of similar plastic which helps create economies of scale, a must in the recycling business. They are washed and then pelletized and recycled into new film products like garbage bags.

My colleagues and I are excited that there are a number of Saskatchewan entrepreneurs who have expressed interest in setting up local processing facilities. We look forward to working with them when their facilities are in place and meet the appropriate standards.

For the municipalities who I didn’t get the chance to chat with at the convention, our checklist outlines our requirements. Better yet, call me to chat.


Tammy Shields is Cleanfarms’ Western Canada Program Coordinator. Tammy managed Saskatchewan’s first grain bag recycling pilot in 2010. An agrologist by training and an avid nature lover, Tammy finds time to coach competitive swimming and volunteer in her hometown of Moose Jaw.