Canadian farmers are continuing to show their commitment to sustainability on the farm by returning agricultural plastic waste, such as empty pesticide and fertilizer containers and grain bags for recycling, to Cleanfarms’ Ag-Waste Environmental programs.
Cleanfarms released its 2019 Annual Report for its five permanent collection programs. The programs available are:
- single-use plastic pesticide and fertilizer containers that are 23 litres and under;
- non-deposit bulk pesticide and fertilizer totes and drums;
- grain bags;
- unwanted or old pesticides and livestock and equine medications; and
- seed and pesticide bags collected in Eastern Canada.
In 2019, farmers returned nearly 5.5 million containers in 2019, bringing the total number collected since the program began 30 years ago to 131.5 million jugs. Plastic containers are recycled into new products such as farm drainage tile.
The collection of empty agricultural seed, pesticide, and fertilizer bags in Eastern Canada climbed 17 per cent by volume in 2019 compared to 2018. Recycling grain bags under the Saskatchewan provincially-regulated program posted another successful year in 2019 with 2,256 tonnes of used bags recycled, which is a 44 per cent increase in volume over 2018. A pilot program in Manitoba to collect used grain bags, bale and silage wrap and twine recovered 51 tonnes for recycling, up from 34 tonnes in 2018.
The program rotates to all regions of Canada every three years. In 2019, farmers in the British Columbia and Alberta Peace Region, Northern Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario, and Newfoundland returned more than 214,600 kgs of unwanted pesticides and 5,840 kg of obsolete farm animal medications for safe disposal.
Cleanfarms general manager Barry Friesen says that although plastic products and totes are essential tools on Canadian farms, they become ag-waste when farmers are done with them. “Cleanfarms’ industry-funded programs give farmers options to manage this non-organic waste, helping them steward their land for present and future generations,” he explains, adding “our goal is to keep expanding our programs to offer farmers convenient and effective environmentally sustainable options to manage ag-waste on their farms.”