Canadian Farmers Edge 2021 Recycling Rate for Empty Ag Plastic Jugs to 77%

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ETOBICOKE, Ontario, Oct. 05, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Canadian farmers/producers continue to demonstrate their commitment to ensuring that empty agricultural product containers used for pesticides and fertilizers are returned for recycling.

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Cleanfarms, the national stewardship organization that develops and operates programs to help producers manage agricultural waste materials on the farm, has just released the 2021 recovery rates for various types of ag packaging that are collected for their recycling or safe disposal.

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The flagship program recovers empty plastic jugs of 23 L and smaller that deliver pesticides and fertilizers to growers. In 2021, farmers returned more than three-quarters of the containers sold to the market… more than 2.25 million kilograms, increasing the three-year average recovery rate to 77%.

The recycling recovery rate has skyrocketed since 2011, when it was 69%. In 2019, it was 71% and in 2020, it was 76%, indicating that producers are still looking for ways to manage waste on the farm in an environmentally appropriate way.

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The recovery rate measures the percentage of packaging collected for recycling compared to the number of packaging sold on the market in that year. The three-year average recovery rate equalizes the rate over three years taking into account factors that could cause variations, such as different needs due to weather.

“Empty plastic jugs aren’t the only ag containers that growers are recycling,” said Cleanfarms Executive Director Barry Friesen. “They are taking back several essential items that are used on farms for recycling, such as drums and bulk bags without empty tanks, too. This bulk container recycling program is newer, only a few years old. In returning them for recycling, farmers ensure that plastic from smaller and larger containers is used to make new products in a circular economy. We are grateful that growers are responding to the programs in such a positive way.”

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In 2021, farmers returned 54% of the bulk containers sold to the market, or more than 71,000 drums and bags. This is an increase from 50% in 2019 and 52% in 2020.

Cleanfarms also operates a grain bag recycling program in Saskatchewan established under the province’s Agricultural Packaging Products Waste Management Regulations (2016). When it launched in 2018, it was the only government-regulated extended producer responsibility program of its kind in Canada. Since then, Manitoba has established industry responsibility (called extended producer responsibility) on grain bags and twine and PEI has done so on a variety of ag plastics. In June 2022, the Quebec government published a new regulation that addresses all agricultural plastics. Cleanfarms is running pilots in Alberta to gather information on recovery patterns for grain bag recycling.

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The collection of used grain bags in Saskatchewan is growing year after year. In 2018, Cleanfarms recovered 1,257 tons of grain bag plastic. In 2021, the three-year average recycling recovery rate was 64%, representing more than 2,100 tons of used plastic grain bags.

In eastern Canada, farmers are also returning bags of seed and pesticides for safe disposal, as recycling markets are not yet available. Quebec growers also return bags of fertilizer. In 2017, when the recovery program was launched in earnest, the three-year recovery rate was 22%. In 2021, it exceeded 38%. Pilots are being conducted in grasslands to also add seed recovery, pesticides and inoculant bags.

“Cleanfarms recycling programs are like the ‘blue box’ or ‘blue bag’ for growers. We are working every day to find better ways to conveniently and efficiently offer these programs to growers because more of these materials can be returned to be reused in the circular economy,” said Friesen.

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Materials recovered through Cleanfarms programs are processed by small and large companies across North America to form recycled plastic flakes and pellets that are recycled into new products such as farm drainage tiles, dimensional lumber, lawn edging and plastics of agricultural film.

Clean farms it is a
nnational agricultural industry stewardship organization that contributes to a healthier environment and a sustainable future through the recovery and recycling of plastics from the agricultural and related industry, packaging and products It collects materials for recycling and safe disposal through a network of around 1,500 commercial and municipal partners. It is financed by its members in the crop protection, fertilizers, seeds, medicines for animal health, i plastics ag industries. It has staff located in Lethbridge, Alberta; Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan; Winnipeg, Manitoba; Etobicoke, Ontario; and St-Bruno, Quebec.

Contact: Barbara McConnell, Cleanfarms Media

A photo accompanying this announcement is available at



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