CleanFarms program to expand reach

A major agricultural recycling organization has joined Recycle Sask-atchewan.

CleanFarms, best known for collecting empty pesticide and fertilizer containers, becomes the sixth program to join the umbrella organization.

However, it is the first voluntary program to join; the province regulates the other five.

Kim Timmer, manager of stakeholder relations for CleanFarms, said the organization has collected more than 100 million containers since it began in 1989.

It collects at more than 1,000 sites across the country, including 400 in Saskatchewan.

“Last year, our program diverted over 800,000 kilograms of plastic out of Saskatchewan’s municipal landfills,” she said.

It goes to a processor in Wisconsin and is remanufactured into farm drainage tile. Timmer said becoming partners with Recycle Saskatchewan allows CleanFarms to reach out to more people and help build the culture of recycling.

“Our programs don’t just benefit farmers; they benefit the communities that they operate in,” she said.

Joan Meyer, program manager at Recycle Saskatchewan, said all the organization’s members work to keep more products out of municipal landfills.

“Many products have a residual effect not suitable for landfills.”

Others can be a resource to make new products.

For example, the Saskatchewan Scrap Tire Corp. has recycled more than 21 million tires into playground surfaces, paving stones and other products since 1996.

Ray Orb, acting president of the Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities, said rural residents support efforts to reduce landfill use.

“The onus for collecting waste materials for residents has always fallen on municipalities,” he said.

“Landfills weren’t always the best option, but sometimes they were the only option.”

Meyer said landfills used to be called nuisance grounds.

“They have become the catching basin for so many products that are just not suitable,” she said.

All Recycle Saskatchewan members have noticed an increase in the amount of material they collect, she said. People are demanding better recycling services, and industry has to step up, she added.

Grain bag collection remains an issue in rural areas. The province has been funding pilot programs.

Timmer said CleanFarms works with the crop protection and fertilizer industry, but hasn’t yet worked out an arrangement with the grain bag industry.

“When the manufacturers of those plastics are willing to come forward, we’d be happy to explore working with them,” she said.

Meyer said the provincial government is focused on launching its multi-material recycling program Jan. 1.

“We hope the next one is the grain bags,” she said.

Household hazardous waste is also a concern.

Members of Recycle Saskatchewan are affected because people want to recycle such products but don’t know what to do with them. They end up leaving them on the doorsteps of other recyclers.

“People will step up and they will do the right thing if they’re given the option,” Meyer said.

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