With the prevalence of canola, grain and forage seed crops as well as beef cattle farming in the Peace River Regional District (PRRD), it is no surprise that plastic grain bags and baler twine are important agricultural tools for farmers/producers who call this part of northern British Columbia home.
Important as grain bags and baler twine are in many farm operations, managing the used materials when farmers are finished with them can be a challenge. Until now, the used material has been either landfilled or stored on farms. But that’s about to change.
Beginning this week, Cleanfarms, with the support of the PRRD, is launching a pilot to enable local farmers to recycle the baler twine and grain bags at no charge by taking them to one of eight collection sites located throughout the district.
Cleanfarms’ contractors will pick up the material from the collection sites and transport it to recycling facilities in Canada and the USA where it will be processed for reuse in new products such as car parts and plastic bags.
“We estimate farmers in the PRRD generate about 70 tonnes of used agricultural baler twine and grain bags annually,” said Cleanfarms Executive Director Barry Friesen. “By taking the used ag plastic to collection sites to be recycled, local farmers can keep their farm properties clean and tidy, and contribute to sustainable use of natural resources. It is a solution that meets the challenge of managing the used materials today and contributes to a cleaner environment for tomorrow’s farm families.
“Every tonne of grain bag plastic and kilometer of baler twine requires natural resources and energy to manufacturer. By recycling these materials, we ensure that we use their full value which fuels a circular economy for agricultural products in Canada. That’s something we can all get behind,” Friesen added.
Cleanfarms plans to expand pilots like this, which target used agricultural plastic across the country to achieve a goal of zero plastic waste to landfill in agriculture.
“We are very proud of the way residents in our community participate in the recycling programs offered through various stewardship programs. This is a special new program for farmers and for the agricultural community that addresses ag plastics and we are pleased to partner with Cleanfarms to make it happen. We look forward to seeing excellent results from PRRD farmers that will lead to a better understand of how to achieve zero plastic waste in the agricultural sector in years to come,” said PRRD Board Chair Brad Sperling.
The collection sites are located at the Cecil Lake, Prespatou, Tomslake, Rolla and Buick Creek Transfer Stations, and at the Bessborough, Chetwynd and North Peace Regional Landfill sites.
To recycle the ag twine, farmers must place it loose and free of debris in large Cleanfarms collection bags that are available free of charge at any of the collection sites. Grain bags must be machine rolled and securely tied. Both can be dropped off at the designated collection sites free of charge.
Cleanfarms operates permanent programs throughout the country to collect and recycle pesticide and fertilizer containers, seed and pesticide bags in eastern Canada, and grain bags in the Prairies. In addition to the recycling programs, Cleanfarms collects unwanted pesticides and old, obsolete livestock/equine medications for safe disposal in a program that rotates into regions of Canada every three years.
BC joins Saskatchewan, Ontario, Quebec and Prince Edward Island in collecting baler twine in this series of pilots to expand collection of used ag plastics from farms for recycling.
The Cleanfarms pilots are funded in part by the Government of Canada through Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s Canadian Agricultural Strategic Priorities Program (CASPP). The government is investing $50.3 million over five years in a number of projects to help the agricultural sector adapt and remain competitive.
Process for Preparing Materials for Recycling in the PRRD
Taking care to prepare materials properly helps ensure that they can be accepted for recycling; here’s how.
Use a collection bag to contain used twine, and return full bags to a nearby collection site.
- Shake the twine to remove debris. This works best when it is dry.
- Run a gloved hand along the twine to remove clumps of dirt and/or snow in winter.
- Place twine directly into a collection bag.
- Secure the bag closed with a zip tie or twine and return to your closest collection site.
- Note: do not include net wrap in the bag with the twine. Mixing net wrap with twine will make the whole bag unrecyclable.
Grain bags need to be tightly machine rolled to be accepted for recycling. In general, preparation involves these 3 steps:
- Shake – Remove debris and as much organic material (spoilage, dirt, etc.) before or during rolling. Excessively dirty or loose/unrolled bags may be rejected.
- Roll – Prepare grain bags by rolling with a grain bag roller. Please contact Cleanfarms for information about accessing a grain bag roller.
- Return – Return your well-rolled plastic bale to a collection site.
Old Used Plastic Materials Stored on Farms
Farmers in the PRRD may have collected various types of old, unusable plastic twine and grain bags over the years. If these materials cannot be separated and prepared according to the procedure, farmers are advised to dispose of them through regular landfill or transfer stations. Free disposal of legacy material that is not recyclable is available through the PRRD’s spring and fall cleanup days. Only material that is prepared for recycling will be accepted as part of the pilot.
Not Accepted in this Pilot
Materials that are not accepted in this pilot project include: bale wrap, feed or seed bags, net wrap, nylon rope, sisal twine, silage bags or silage tarps.
Learn more at this Cleanfarms program page.