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How Can Producers Divert Plastics from the Waste Stream into Recycling?

By Richard Wilkins, Provincial Specialist, Pesticide Regulatory, Regina

October 2020

Empty Pesticide containers
Empty Pesticide containers being unloaded
at a collection depot.

The agriculture sector, like the rest of society, generates a lot of waste, a lot of plastic waste in particular. Producers are looking for ways to remove this material from the waste stream and divert it into recycling. The question then becomes, what can producers do with this waste and how can they dispose of it in an environmentally sound manner?

Cleanfarms is a leader in Canadian agricultural recycling initiatives. They are an industry sponsored, non-profit stewardship organization dedicated to helping producers solve plastic waste issues. They deliver environmental stewardship programs on behalf of Canada’s crop protection industry.

The organization has been involved in a number of agricultural waste projects in the province. Through their work on waste characterization studies, stakeholder consultations and the evaluation of processing and collection options, Cleanfarms has developed a number of programs to help producers. 

Many of these programs have been piloted in Saskatchewan. Cleanfarms has developed and implemented collection programs that manage the collection, recycling and safe disposal of certain agricultural plastics materials.

used grain bags
Rolled grain bags read to be transported for recycling.

On behalf of members of the crop protection sector, the organization operates programs in Saskatchewan that recover and safely dispose of:

  • Empty pesticide containers: both 23L plastic jugs and the bulk plastic and metal containers and totes;
  • all pesticide and seed bags;
  • grain bags and silage bags used to store grain, and;
  • unwanted and obsolete agricultural pesticides and animal health care products.

Cleanfarms is probably best known for their pesticide container recycling program. Last year, in all of Canada, 5.3 million containers were recovered and recycled. In Saskatchewan alone, nearly 1,900,000 containers of all types were diverted from the waste stream. It is not too hard to believe considering Saskatchewan has approximately 40 per cent of the cultivated land in Canada.

Saskatchewan is a leader in recycling pesticide containers, the province recycles over 70 per cent of the pesticide containers generated. To locate a pesticide collection site near you, visit the Cleanfarms website.

In 2019, approximately 9,000 grain bags, representing 2,300 tonnes of plastic, was removed from the waste stream and recycled. Grain bag collection site locations are also available on their website. 

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