Progress on the Pesticide Container Program

Opportunities to change things up.

Resolution 2-21, Pesticide Container Collection Program is having an impact. A recent discussion with Shane Hedderson, the Western Region Business Manager for CleanFarms indicates that there will be some options coming forward for Municipalities that no longer want to participate in the pesticide container collection.

In a recent survey of the pesticide container collection site collaborators conducted by CleanFarms indicated that 90% of the sites were happy with the program, so the resolution from the ASBs passed at the Provincial ASB Conference in January 2021 was a bit of a shock. The resolution was sent directly to the Ministry of Environment and Parks and was forwarded to CleanFarms from there.

Pesticide Container recycling in Alberta has a long and somewhat complicated history. in the early 1980s the province provided funding for municipalities to set up collection sites and pilot a recycling program after pesticide containers were found in the St. Mary’s River. Alberta was the first province to pilot a pesticide container recycle program, and soon after the other provinces followed. In 1989 CropLife Canada took over the management of the programs and coordinated collection across Canada. In 2010 CleanFarms was formed and continues to coordinate collection sites across the country. Since CropLife took over in 1989 the province has stepped back from funding the maintenance of the sites, and plays only a regulatory roll in the program. (link to fact sheet at the bottom of the post)

In most provinces the containers under 23L are collected at the retail locations where they were initially purchased. In Alberta however the collection sites can be managed by the municipality through their ASB or public works or may be managed by a local or regional waste authority. The promotion and extension of the container recycling program by the ASBs and their staff and the number of local collection sites are the main reasons for the success of the program in Alberta, and why CleanFarms values ASBs as a partner in the program. Cuts to municipal budgets and changes to regulations that may affect the cost of repairing and maintaining these sites are at the heart of the issue for Alberta ASBs.

Resolution 2-21 asked the Ministry of Environment and Parks to work with CleanFarms to develop a program/process where municipalities that can no longer maintain their collection sites can transition to retail collection similar to other provinces. Response 1, and 2 from the Ministry indicate that as the regulator they do not have a role to play in transitioning to a new collection model, and that ASBs should work with CleanFarms directly. CleanFarms has heard the concerns and is working on some engagement and options that are expected to be communicated to their collection site partners in Alberta early this fall.