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Programs needed to manage BC farm waste

November 8, 2012  By Press release

November 8, 2012, Ottawa, Ont – A recent study reveals that approximately 5,500 tonnes of packaging waste is disposed of by B.C. farmers each year. An additional 32,000 tonnes of packaging, used to transport farm products to retail stores and households, leaves British Columbia farms annually.

CleanFARMS, a national stewardship organization, with funding from the B.C. Agriculture Council, conducted the study to look at what types of packaging is generated on, and leaves, farms in B.C.

“The study shows there are a lot of different types of waste on farms, like plastic and cardboard, that needs programs that will allow farmers to recycle those products,” says Barry Friesen, general manager of CleanFARMS. “We know through our existing programs that farmers are willing to participate in stewardship schemes. Now we have the information we need to develop new programs to benefit farmers and the environment.”


Packaging that leaves farms in the province weighed in at 32,000 tonnes which includes corrugated cardboard, plant pots, trays and plastic clamshell packaging. Agricultural producers of this packaging will be responsible for managing the cost for collecting and recycling packaging that goes to B.C. households by May 2014.

Packaging waste that stays on farms to be managed by the farmer totaled 5,500 tonnes. Plastic accounts for two-thirds of this waste. This includes items like bale wrap, fertilizer and seed bags, greenhouse film, silage film and pesticide containers.

There are currently very few existing programs that give farmers the opportunity to recycle the waste from these products. The study also found farmers dispose of the waste by taking it to the landfill, reusing it or burning it on the farm.

Funding for the study came from the British Columbia Agriculture Council (BCAC) while CleanFARMS and the Canadian Animal Health Institute and other organizations provided additional in-kind support.

BCAC is proud to be involved in this study,” says Reg Ens, executive director, BCAC. “The results show the diversity and significance of packaging wastes generated from farming and related enterprises. We’re looking forward to working with CleanFARMS in the future to develop programs that will assist the agriculture sector in managing these waste products in a responsible manner.”

CleanFARMS will use the results of the study in the future to develop stewardship programs for the types of waste identified so farmers in B.C. are able to dispose of waste in environmentally sustainable ways.

“We’ve had tremendous success with farmers returning empty pesticide containers for recycling as well as returning obsolete pesticides to be safely disposed,” says Friesen. “We see an opportunity to build on our existing initiatives to develop programs to manage all on-farm waste.”

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