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Cleanfarms launches Saskatchewan pilot program to collect bale twine for recycling

cleanfarms grain bag collection at a farm

Cleanfarms took a step closer to its goal of helping producers achieve zero plastic waste in farming operations today, as it launches a pilot program in Saskatchewan to collect baler twine for recycling. 

Baler twine is an essential agricultural tool to wrap and store hay, straw and silage, but at the end of its useful life, plastic twine is challenging to manage. Disposal in landfill can result in the twine twisting around the wheels of landfill equipment, and disposal by burning or burying is detrimental to the environment. In Saskatchewan alone, an estimated 1,100 to 1,300 tonnes of twine are used in farm operations. 

"Beyond collecting empty grain bags for recycling, the next most important item for us to focus on is twine. Getting it out of landfill and burn piles and into recycling bags has been a Cleanfarms goal for the past few years," said Cleanfarms Executive Director Barry Friesen.

He said that this Saskatchewan pilot, which will involve more than 30 collection locations will lay the groundwork for permanent programs for twine and other agricultural plastic wastes that will be implemented in farm communities throughout Canada. 

"Saskatchewan farmers' participation in this program will help us understand how to create a circular economy for the recovery of twine once farmers are finished with it," Friesen added. 

The Cleanfarms project has three broad-based objectives: 

  • to build consensus on the appropriate management of non-organic agricultural waste; 
  • to survey farmers to establish current patterns of disposal before and after pilots and education programs;  
  • to demonstrate best practices in ag waste management through pilot programs conducted throughout Canada.

Already underway is the grower survey component which is targeted for completion in December. The survey asks growers about current practices and attitudes toward disposal options for various types of agricultural plastic waste generated in their operations. The results will inform the development of additional pilot projects that will be conducted throughout the agriculture sector. 

Some pilots in Quebec are already operating; others, like the Saskatchewan twine pilots, are getting underway now. Pilots are also expected to roll out in the northern interior of British Columbia as well as in specific areas of Alberta, Ontario and Prince Edward Island in 2021.

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