Regional districts launches farm recycling pilot

The program is being delivered by CleanFarms, an environmental stewardship not-for-profit

Three northern regional districts, including the Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako, are participating in a pilot program to recycle agricultural plastic.

The non-profit environmental stewardship organization CleanFarms launched the three-year pilot in June to encourage the recycling of agricultural plastic that comes from things such as 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 also encompasses the Peace River Regional District and the Regional District of Fraser Fort-George.

Black Press 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.

READ MORE: RBDN To participate in the three-year long pilot

“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 Black Press the biggest thing for farmers to keep in mind is the cleanliness of the bags they bring in for recycling.

“The most important thing for recycling agricultural 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 Smithers/Telkwa Transfer Station located at 6150 Donaldson Rd., between Smithers and Telkwa as well as the Knockholt Landfill located at 8072 Aitken Rd. in Houston.

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Eddie Huband
Multimedia Reporter
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