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Programs needed to manage Maritime farm waste


December 13, 2012
By Press release

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December 13, 2012, Etobicoke, Ont – A recent study reveals there is more than 3,400 tonnes of plastic waste generated through agricultural activity in the Maritimes. Of that, two-thirds is disposed by farmers each year while the remaining third leaves the farm as packaging material on products destined for retail stores and households. Very little of the on-farm waste is recycled.

“The study shows there are a lot of different types of plastic waste on farms that can be recycled,” says Barry Friesen, general manager of CleanFARMS, the national stewardship organization that conducted the study.

“We know farmers are willing to participate in stewardship schemes because they participate in our existing programs. Now we have the information we need to develop new programs to benefit farmers and the environment.”

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Plastic packaging waste that stays on farms to be managed by the farmer totaled 2,100 tonnes. About 70 per cent of this waste is low-density polyethylene (LDPE) plastic from bale film and silage wrap. Other items include plastic fertilizer and pesticide film bags, seed bags and pesticide containers.

Packaging that leaves farms in the province weighed in at 1,300 tonnes which includes plastic and mesh bags, plant pots, trays and plastic clamshell packaging.

CleanFARMS currently operates a recycling program for empty pesticide and fertilizer containers, an empty paper bag recycling program and an obsolete pesticide collection program that is free to farmers. There are currently a number of pilot projects in place to help divert the plastic waste products, but the study found that more programs are needed in areas of concentrated farm activity.

“The results show both the benefits and diversity of plastic materials used by the farming community,” says Cathy Cirko, vice-president, Canadian Plastics Industry Association. “We see an opportunity to work with CleanFARMS in the future to help develop programs to assist farmers recover these waste materials responsibly.”

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

“We’ve had tremendous success with farmers participating in our current programs,” 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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