Developing an ag plastics recycling roadmap
Throughout 2020, Cleanfarms conducted consultations at the request of Manitoba Conservation and Climate, to help the province evaluate transitioning the government-funded ag plastics pilot projects into a permanent, industry-funded stewardship program. The consultations resulted in a stewardship program plan, which was approved under the Packaging and Printed Paper Stewardship Regulation by Manitoba Conservation and Climate in the spring of 2021.
This webpage provides some background to the consultation and the stewardship program plan (the plan) development process. The final, approved stewardship program plan is available here.
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View more information at First Sellers: Grain Bags & Twine (MB)
How the plan was developed
The plan was developed based on data collected through multi-year, government-funded pilot projects that took place in Manitoba and best practices in agricultural plastics recycling. The plan also prioritizes harmonization with initiatives underway across the Prairies.
A draft of the plan (version 01) was made available for comment in late 2020. Cleanfarms engaged with producer groups, industry and municipal associations to get feedback on the plan. Individual producers and Manitobans were welcome to provide feedback as well.
Version 02 was submitted to Manitoba Conservation and Climate at the end of January 2021.
A final version was submitted on April 8, 2021.
Summary of the recommendations and the stewardship program plan
The stewardship program plan outlines detailed recommendations that form the basis of the operational plan that is in process now. Four key recommendations include:
- A phased-in approach to a permanent, industry-funded stewardship program targeting ag-plastics that can be recycled at this time. This means that the permanent, industry-funded program will allow farmers to recycle grain bags and twine during Phase 1.
- Phase 1 excludes materials like silage/bale film and netting because recycling markets are not currently available for them.
- Approval of MAPP in March 2021 to allow sufficient transition time.
- Launch of the Environmental Handling Fee associated with MAPP in December 2021.
The government-funded agricultural plastics recycling pilots have been in place since 2013. In 2018 the Manitoba government asked Cleanfarms to develop a plan to transition the pilots. The following is a summary of the work completed throughout the consultation process.
2018 – 2019
- Preliminary discussions with producer groups (late 2018) to inform stakeholders about learnings from the pilot projects, key challenges faced (limited recycling markets) and the benefits and financial implications of a permanent, industry-funded stewardship program
- Completed an ag waste study to estimate the volume of ag plastics used on Manitoba farms. This data is used to estimate program costs and establish targets
- Fielded a producer survey (2019); producers weighed in on key aspects of the program and provided input to help assess existing pilot projects
- Pilot projects continued throughout the province (2018-2019) with a focus on increasing producer accessibility to collection sites (which is key to participation) and to continue to evaluate the availability of recycling markets. Manitoba farmers turned in 51 tonnes of ag plastics in 2019, surpassing the 34 tonnes that was collected in 2018
- Pilot projects continue
- Development of The Manitoba Ag Plastic Plan (MAPP)
- Consultations on MAPP, delayed due to COVID-19, restarted in the fall of 2020
- Consultations took place online/remotely and focused on engaging producer groups, collection sites, municipalities and key government officials
- Consultations with key stakeholders continued until mid-January
- Stakeholder feedback was incorporated into version 02 of the MAPP which was submitted to Manitoba Conservation and Climate Change on January 29, 2021
- Government-led consultations were undertaken through Engage MB.
- Plans to transition existing collection sites to the MAPP collection criteria (targets grain bags and twine for collection only) begin
Cleanfarms received approval on May 10, 2021. Efforts shifted towards:
- steward education, outreach and onboarding
- promotion and education to producers/farmers
- collection site recruitment & signing of agreements
- further roll out of MAPP
For more information:
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I supply twine and/or grain bags into Manitoba. What is my next step?
Companies that supply twine and/or grain bags into Manitoba are now required to support/finance a government approved program to recycle these items. Learn more about your obligations here.
What regulatory obligations apply to grain bag and baler twine stewards in Manitoba?
Grain bag and baler twine stewards/first sellers are required to support a government approved program for these two materials. This includes financial responsibilities. Stewards can meet their regulatory requirements through their membership in Cleanfarms.
The links below provide more details:
What is the cost to Manitoba growers?
MAPP is fully financed through an Environmental Handling Fee (EHF) that is paid when growers purchase these items. These funds are remitted to Cleanfarms by companies that supply producers with grain bags and twine. The fees are strictly dedicated to managing the program, with operational activities that include providing an incentive to collection sites to participate (which helps increase convenience for growers), transportation costs, promotion and education, administration and accounting. In years where fees exceed costs, they will be placed in a reserve fund to cover years where sales are lower but recycling costs remain. View: Manitoba grain bag and baler twine EHF
Why were pilots and other studies necessary to develop the plan?
Pilots are critical to effective program planning as they permit farmers, collection sites and program designers time to test different approaches and to seek cost-effective mechanisms for delivery. In this case, it’s become clear that Manitoba producers use a wide variety of ag plastics and in relatively small quantities compared to other Prairie provinces. Multi-year pilots that have scaled up, an ag waste study and additional work enabled program designers to develop a robust and thoughtful path forward for the province.
What is an ag waste study and why was it included in this process?
There’s an old adage in waste management, that you can’t manage what you can’t measure, and ag waste studies provide just the information that’s needed for effective program development and management. They are desktop studies used to estimate waste composition and generation, typically based on:
- Units of production – e.g. head of cattle, acres per crop, which are available through Statistics Canada and other sources, and
- Waste generated per unit of production – taken from various farm level activities waste and reviewing how these inputs are packaged.
Why isn’t netwrap accepted through the ag film and twine recycling program?
At present, viable recycling end markets for netting or netwrap aren’t available so it isn’t accepted.
The pilot also included ag plastics like bale wrap, silage bags and bunker covers/tarps. Why aren’t they included in the program?
Markets for these materials are also somewhat weak and unpredictable at this time. However, we hope to be able to continue recovering these materials through pilots (to be announced). If/when markets expand we would seek to reassess to determine if they can be included a longer term program.