It’s winter on the prairies, so it’s time to empty grain bags to move last fall’s harvest to dryers and then to market. For growers who use grain bags, that means recycling them instead of landfilling, storing or worse, burning them. For some Alberta farmers, this year could be the first time they’ve had an option to recycle. That’s where Cleanfarms comes in.
Under the newly minted ‘Alberta Ag-plastic. Recycle It!’ program led by the Agricultural Plastics Recycling Group (APRG) and operated by Cleanfarms, farmers will find it more convenient to locate places that will take empty grain bags and twine for recycling.
For year one of this three-year pilot, Cleanfarms has established 20 collection sites throughout the province. Most are currently taking rolled, tied grain bags of any size, and twine for recycling. Some, however, just take grain bags and a few take only twine. The full roster of collection locations and what they take can be found on Cleanfarms.ca
According to a recent survey conducted for Cleanfarms, 92% of Alberta farmers (growing crops or livestock) would be very (68%) or somewhat (24%) likely to participate in a recycling program for grain bags if a collection site was in their area. Similarly, 86% said they would be very (56%) or somewhat (30%) likely to participate in a twine recycling program if a collection facility was in their area.
Farm plastic waste studies undertaken by Cleanfarms estimated Alberta farmers generate as much as 2500 tonnes of low-density polyethylene grain bags and up to 3000 tonnes of polypropylene twine annually, and all of this is available for recycling.
“Alberta farmers are ready and willing to recycle used grain bags and twine, and with approximately 5500 tonnes of viable agricultural plastic available to be recycled, that’s an unbeatable combination for a successful program. Plus, those recovered resources will be made into new products for farm use. This new Alberta recycling program is a win for everyone,” said Cleanfarms General Manager Barry Friesen. Recycled twine is used in many different applications, including roofing tiles and new twine.
Farmers preparing to recycle grain bags should know they need to shake them to remove debris, roll and tightly secure them with twine. Some collection sites have rollers and compactors available so farmers should contact sites for information beforehand.
Twine should not be mixed with any other plastics and needs to be shaken to remove debris, placed loose in a Cleanfarms recycling bag and tied closed. Cleanfarms recycling bags are available at rural municipalities and ‘Alberta Ag-plastic. Recycle It!’ collection sites.
Farmers should contact collection sites for hours of operation and to schedule a drop-off time if assistance is required for unloading. Information is provided at Cleanfarms.ca
The pilot is being funded through a grant from the Government of Alberta and administered by Alberta Beef Producers.
Cleanfarms is a non-profit industry stewardship organization committed to environmental responsibility through the proper management of agricultural plastic packaging and product waste. Recycled agricultural plastics are made into new products such as farm drainage tile, flexible irrigation pipe and plastic bags. Cleanfarms.ca
About the Agricultural Plastics Recycling Group
The APRG is a group made up of over 20 stakeholder organizations from sectors across Alberta representing municipalities, producers, non-profits, recyclers and retailers among others. For a full list of members and more details please visit www.aprg.ca.