Alberta pilot project aims to recycle agricultural plastic

A three-year pilot project aimed at reducing plastic waste within Alberta agriculture will soon roll out. Alberta Agriculture and Forestry have approved $750,000 in funding for the Agricultural Plastics Recycling Group’s (APRG) pilot program to recycle grain bags and twine.

“Making agriculture more efficient and environmentally sustainable is a win for everyone,” says Oneil Carlier, Minister of Alberta Agriculture and forestry. “Not only are we tackling the longstanding problem of wasted twine and agricultural plastics, we’re working with partners to find policy solutions that really work. This pilot program is shaping a move toward an environmentally sustainable future for our province.”

The APRG, which is comprised of more than 20 stakeholders, will now look to implement the three year pilot project. In the coming weeks, the group will hire a program operator to collect and recycle materials such as grain bags and twine. Included in the project is the opportunity for municipalities to host collection sites.

“We commend the government for their leadership in this area. We are thrilled to receive news of the pilot approval and know that we are now working toward viable solutions to collect and recycle grain bags and twine across the province,” says APRG Chair, Al Kemmere in a news release. “Our group of over 20 stakeholders has been focused on gaining traction on agriculture plastics management for two years and we’re happy to be moving ahead.”

The pilot also includes market research for all types of agricultural plastics, a waste characterization study to determine plastic volumes and materials, surveys to producers, and education about the program. Back in 2012, an Alberta government study found approximately 50 per cent of agricultural producers were burning their agricultural plastics on-farm. Sending plastics to a landfill was also a common method of disposing of agricultural plastics.

“There is strong support for this program from the agriculture sectors in Alberta. We look forward to the rollout of this much-needed initiative and appreciate the speedy response and support from the Alberta government,” says Neil Gorda, director, region four, Alberta Barley, and executive member of the APRG.

The pilot project is expected to start in the Fall of 2019.

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