The ASBs have been active advocators for a permanent agriculture plastics recycling program and have passed many provincial resolutions on this topic.
Recently the government of Alberta announced their plans to build a circular economy for single use plastics and paper by introducing legislation that opens the door for what is called an Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) framework. Details about the province’s announcements and engagement on the EPR can be found in the previous blog post “Alberta Announces Extended Producer Responsibility Framework Impacting Plastics Recycling“
Many provinces have been moving ahead with creating permanent recycling programs for agriculture plastics. Manitoba’s permanent program requires manufacturers to collect and recycle gain bags, baler twine and pesticide and fertilizer containers. Saskatchewan was the first province to establish an EPR for grain bags and in 2020 was able to recycle over 2500 tonnes of grain bags. The October 2021 edition of the Ag Forward newsletter published by CleanFarms who is the operator of Alberta’s Agriculture Plastics Recycle pilot, contains an excellent article about EPRs and how they can benefit a permanent recycle program.
Discussions with the ASBPC and the Deputy Minister of Agriculture indicated that there is a reluctance to include agriculture plastics in the announced EPR without hearing directly from farmers. The ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Rural Economic Development staff are reaching out to Alberta Environment and Parks to see what kind engagement they require so we expect to hear more in the coming months.
In the mean time the Agriculture Plastics Recycling Group will be meeting with newly appointed Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Rural Economic Development Nate Horner this month to discuss the issue and clarify steps forward. The Agriculture Plastics Recycling Group pilot project wraps up this spring.
- Between 2019 and 2021, the Agriculture Plastics Recycling Pilot collected more than 1.5 million kg of grain bags and twine at 90 collection sites throughout the province.
- There are now two ag plastics recycling facilities in Alberta. PolyAg Recycling Ltd. in Bashaw, and Merlin Plastics near Hussar, making Alberta home to two of the three North American facilitates that recycle grain bags.
- There is a silage processing pilot project funded federally in Lethbridge, and Olds College and Mountainview County have launched a research committee to look for gaps in the ag plastics recycling system and provide recommendations through a whitepaper to be released this spring.
- Manitoba and Saskatchewan already have a permanent programs for recycling grain bags.
Past ASBPC resolutions related to plastic recycling: