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Cleanfarms posts increases in 2018 Ag-Plastic Recovery Programs

Cleanfarms posts increases in 2018 Ag-Plastic Recovery Programs

Cleanfarms continues to demonstrate that Canada's agricultural community is committed to managing farm waste responsibly.

In its 2018 annual report just released, Cleanfarms recorded an increase in recovery of its Canada-wide empty small plastic container collection program of 14% by volume over 2017. In total, farmers brought back nearly 5.8 million empty containers (23L and under) for recycling into new products such as farm drainage tile.

Cleanfarms is a national non-profit industry stewardship organization that is funded by the Canadian crop protection, fertilizer, seed and agricultural plastics industries. The collection and recycling of empty agricultural pesticide and fertilizer containers is the best known and longest running of its ag-waste recovery programs. Overall, Cleanfarms' mandate is to contribute to a healthier environment by recovering agricultural and related industry plastics, packaging and products for recycling or safe disposal.

"Despite the challenges of shrinking overseas markets for recycled commodities, Cleanfarms continued to meet its goal of sending all materials collected for recycling to end markets to be remanufactured into new products. This is a prime example of the circular economy at work in the agricultural community," said Cleanfarms General Manager Barry Friesen.

Other Cleanfarms programs also posted increases in recovery. The collection of empty agricultural seed, pesticide and fertilizer bags in Eastern Canada climbed by 22% by volume over 2017. The largest increase occurred in Quebec where recovery numbers jumped to nearly 194,000 kg from about 110,000 kg in 2017. 

Fueled by the success of this program in Eastern Canada, Cleanfarms is pilot testing the collection of seed, pesticide and fertilizer bags in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta in 2019. Empty bags are recovered for proper disposal instead of being buried in landfill sites.

At the core of Cleanfarms' commitment to help farmers manage agriculture packaging and products responsibly is its unwanted pesticides and livestock medications collection program. Operated in partnership with the Canadian Animal Health Institute, the program provides an essential service to farmers allowing them to take old, obsolete and unwanted pesticides and livestock/equine medications to Cleanfarms drop-off locations. These materials are transported by a licensed waste hauler to specialized facilities where they are disposed of safely. The program rotates to all regions of Canada every three years. In 2018, 74 ag-retail partners in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Northern Saskatchewan, Southern Alberta and British Columbia collected for safe disposal a total of about 181,000 kg of unwanted commercial pesticides and nearly 2,500 kg of unwanted and obsolete livestock/equine medications.

2018 also marked the first year of the provincially-regulated grain bag recycling program in Saskatchewan. Though this program is just getting underway, it has already collected nearly 1,260 tonnes of grain bag plastic for recycling. The primary use for this recovered material is in the manufacture of garbage bags.

"Thanks to our industry members, Cleanfarms operates in the Canadian agricultural community as an important partner in helping farmers manage their farm operations responsibly and sustainably. That's what drives us to develop and expand programs that offer continuous improvement in access and convenience," Friesen said.

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