Ag recycler marks 10 years

CleanFarms, the industry-funded agricultural materials recycling entity, has collected 51,600 tonnes of plastic and other non-organic waste over its 10 years of operation.

That’s the weight of about 65,000 cows. Or 7,000 elephants.

The group announced its collection total today to mark its 10th anniversary. The materials include plastic jugs and containers, used grain bags, empty seed and fertilizer bags and old or unwanted pesticides and livestock medications. All are recovered for recycling or proper disposal.

“We recognize that we have a moral obligation to farmers and other Canadians to leave our world as good or better environmentally, than when we began,” said general manager Barry Friesen, in a news release that included launch of an anniversary logo.

Clean farms is also launching a research project this spring to quantify type and volume of on-farm plastic and find facilities to manage or recycle it.

That research will be funded by the federal environment department.

“The work will advance our understanding of the scope of agricultural waste and drive on-the-ground solutions to help manage plastics and other waste materials to increase recycling rates and improve our ability to incorporate higher levels of recycled content in plastic products,” said Friesen.

Spring purchases of pesticides and fertilizers tend to generate plastic waste and CleanFarms figures indicate an average 65 percent recovery rate on empty jugs and containers used on the farm. It wants to increase that to 100 percent.

“Why? We know farmers want sustainable farm operations. So, we are doing everything we can to work with our partners in ag-retail and municipalities to improve convenience and collection. Now we need more farmers to work with us to get every one of those containers back,” Friesen said.

The weight breakdown of materials collected by CleanFarms over 10 years, as of Dec. 31, 2018, is this:

• 45,722 tonnes of empty ag-plastic jugs and containers for recycling

• 1,400 tonnes of used grain bags, film and twine for recycling

• 1,300 tonnes of empty seed, pesticide and fertilizer bags for proper disposal

• 3,242 tonnes of old, unwanted pesticides and livestock/equine medications

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