Non-profit environmental stewardship organization Cleanfarms launched a three-year pilot program in June, 2021 to encourage the recycling of agriculture plastic that comes from things like bale wrap, twine bags, bunker covers and silage bags. The program provides recyclable agriculture bags which can be picked up at various pilot sites, where they can also be brought back for recycling.
The project encompasses the Peace River Regional District, the Regional District of Fraser Fort-George, and Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako which includes Burns Lake.
Lakes District News spoke to Cleanfarms representative Barbara McConnell about the reasoning behind the project. “Cleanfarms has known for years that regional districts in northern British Columbia and the farmers who live and farm there want options to keep agriculture plastics out of landfills and off of farms,” she said. “Last year, Cleanfarms was awarded funding through Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s Canadian Agricultural Strategic Priorities Program (CASPP), which allowed us to develop pilot programs that open doors for farmers to recycle plastics. The region of Bulkley Nechako along with the other two regions were also able to commit funding which helped get the project off the ground.”
Each of the three projects in the regional districts received between $160,000-$195,000, with each party [Cleanfarms and each region] contributing 50 per cent.
“Farmers want programs that help them recycle the agriculture plastics that are essential components of their farming operations. Municipal leaders are looking for ways to extend the lifespan of their landfills. Everyone wants to help create a more circular economy for plastics,” said McConnell. “Cleanfarms likes to work one-on-one with engaged farmers and individuals like those within the Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako to develop collection methods that work for specific regions. We like to start small and we stay focused to learn what works best for farmers. What we learn in the region can potentially help us, and other communities, explore ways to recycle even more agriculture plastics.”
McConnell told Lakes District News that the biggest thing for farmers to keep in mind is the cleanliness of the bags that bring in for recycling. “The most important thing for recycling agriculture plastics is to keep the material as clean as possible. That’s why we stress preparations such as shaking off excessive amounts of dirt and snow. Cleaner used materials are easier to store at collection sites, and cleaner materials help us find appropriate end markets for these materials. Once collected, the plastics will be transported to recycling facilities in Canada and the USA where they will be processed for reuse in new products such as car parts and plastic bags.”
There are several transfer sites in the area to pick up and recycle bags, including the Burns Lake Transfer Station at 4410 Babine Lake Rd. in Burns Lake as well as the Southside Transfer Station at 36007 Eakin Settlement Rd. in Southbank.