BC farms have made significant strides towards reducing plastic waste, and new federal funding will help them take additional steps to address the issue.
CleanFarms, a manufacturer-led environmental stewardship organization based in Ontario, estimates BC farms generate 3,600 tonnes of waste plastic a year. This is down from nearly 4,000 tonnes in 2012.
But the pile of plastic could shrink even further if three pilot projects proposed for the north of the province go ahead.
Cleanfarms is developing programs in the Peace River, Bulkley-Nechako and Fraser-Fort George regional districts to collect used baler twine, silage plastic and grain bags as part of a national initiative to boost agricultural plastics recycling. The national initiative recently received $1.1 million from the federal Canadian Agricultural Strategic Priorities Program. It was one of five projects receiving a share of $4.5 million in funding to help the sector better manage agricultural plastics from creation to disposal.
But some existing programs face challenges. The producer-led Kent Agricultural Plastics Recycling Program lost the buyer of the waste plastic it collects last year due to a lack of markets for waste plastic.
With no market for its plastics, Kent may be forced to dump the materials it has collected.
Program chair Dave Hastie plans to talk to various levels of government to see if the program can be saved. The province undertook a consultation last fall on extended producer responsibility for product recycling and a summary report is expected soon.
Hastie has also approached Cleanfarms to gain support for the Kent program but says Cleanfarms hasn’t expressed interest.