A pilot program to collect and recycle baling twine and grain bags will keep rolling in part thanks to a fresh influx of cash from the province.
“I think farmers, they’re always looking for ways to improve the sustainability of their farm,” said Kim Timmer, manager of stakeholder relations with Cleanfarms. “Our challenge is we need to build a convenient and cost-effective program for them.”
On September 14, the province promised Cleanfarms $185,000 in funding to expand the collection of these agricultural plastics. Cleanfarms is a cross-Canada, agricultural waste recycling non-profit.
The organization has a permanent program to collect small plastic fertilizer and pesticide containers through 36 municipalities. Industry partners collect larger containers and totes, and another permanent program collects old and unwanted animal medication and pesticides once every three years.
The province has funded Cleanfarms since 2013 when it began operating in Manitoba, said Timmer.
Since 2018, Cleanfarms has conducted consultations at the request of Manitoba Conservation and Climate to evaluate transitioning the government-funded, twine and grain bag pilot into a permanent, industry-funded program.
The recently announced grant will allow it to continue to build accessibility and develop ways to recycle the collected material, said Timmer. Cleanfarms wants to harmonize programs across the Prairies.
Last year, Cleanfarms collected 51 tons of ag plastics, up from 34 tons in 2018. Timmer said the plastics are sold mainly to North American markets. Baler twine is pelleted and is sometimes made into roofing material. Grain bags may be made into plastic bags.
“When we talk about people reusing stuff or incorporating products… just giving them a new use. Farmers have been doing that for years and years,” Timmer said.