Canadian Farmers Celebrate Earth Day Everyday with Agricultural Waste Management

ETOBICOKE, Ontario, April 21, 2024 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- On April 22, global attention turns to the crucial role individuals play in protecting the planet in honour of Earth Day. But Canadian farmers agree that one day of dedication doesn’t completely capture their ongoing efforts. Throughout 2023, farmers and the Canadian ag industry have used a wider variety of recycling and safe disposal programs for agricultural plastics and packaging and it’s clear there’s an appetite for more solutions in the future.

Storing, preparing, and returning agricultural plastics and products for recycling and safe disposal through Cleanfarms ag waste management programs has become part of the year-round routine for many farmers in Canada. Participation in these programs underscores dedication to sustainable land stewardship practices amidst mounting environmental challenges and drives advancements in sustainability across the entire value chain of the ag industry.

For example, at the beginning of 2023, Cleanfarms, known as AgriRÉCUP in Quebec, operated four permanent collection programs and two pilot programs in the province that captured a variety of pesticide and fertilizer containers, plastics for hay & silage protection and seed, pesticide and fertilizer bags. Now Cleanfarms offers programs for additional types of bags (peat moss, feed, substrate and animal bedding) in addition to maple syrup tubing. Moving even further east to P.E.I., a new program for fertilizer bags was also introduced.

"We're thrilled to have seen so much expansion in our programs last year," says Barry Friesen, Executive Director of Cleanfarms. "Earth Day encourages us to acknowledge the important work we get to do on behalf of our members, with farmers, first sellers, ag retailers, and municipalities across the country to keep ag waste out of landfills and work towards a circular economy. We aim to continue working together to provide new solutions for the whole industry."

As we do every year, Cleanfarms is celebrating Earth Day by marking the launch of the plastic container recycling program. By May 1, 1,500 plus of our collection sites across Canada will be accepting empty, single-use pesticide and fertilizer containers and other bags from farmers again. In fact, many already are open.

The average recovery rate for pesticide and fertilizer containers 23L and smaller, Cleanfarms' most used and longest-running program, is 77%. The plastic collected through this program is destined to be recycled into new products, many of which will be used on farms, such as flexible drainage pipe, fence posts and composite dimensional lumber used in industrial construction. Out west, grain bags achieve an average recovery rate of about 66% percent and are readily recycled into new products like new plastic bags, plastic sheeting, composite dimensional lumber and more.

Opportunities for Farmers to Manage 'End of Life' Ag Products and Packaging Continue to Increase

As programs for farmers to recycle and safely dispose of unwanted plastics and products continue to expand, farmers are encouraged to check if they have ag materials that they haven't recycled previously that can now be returned to a collection site. Other programs include:

  • a Canada-wide recycling program for large non-deposit plastic totes and drums for pesticides and fertilizers
  • a safe disposal program for seed and pesticide bags and/or inoculant bags across most provinces that includes fertilizer bags in P.E.I. and Quebec
  • Canada-wide collection and disposal program for unwanted pesticides and old, obsolete livestock and equine medications, and
  • recycling for grain bags and baler twine focused on the Prairie provinces
  • new maple syrup tubing recycling in Quebec
  • a new safe disposal program for feed, peat moss, and animal bedding bags in Quebec

There is still room for more solutions, and Cleanfarms operates pilot projects nationwide to assess how to shape new programs down the road. The pilot projects could not exist without the willingness of valued partner organizations, collection site staff, transporters, processors, and farmers to seek out new waste management solutions.

"We're excited to see new growth that will result from the coming year as we continue to collaborate with all levels of the Canadian ag sector and municipal bodies," says Friesen. "Our collaborators make operating and developing new programs possible, and together, we will strive toward our shared vision of zero ag waste in landfills."

Cleanfarms is an agricultural industry stewardship organization that contributes to a healthier environment and a sustainable future by recovering and recycling agricultural and related industry plastics, packaging and products. It is funded by its members in the crop protection, seed, fertilizer, animal health medication and grain bag industries. It has staff located in Lethbridge, Alberta; Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan; Winnipeg, Manitoba; Etobicoke, Ontario; and St-Bruno, Quebec.
Contact: Brian Naud | 514-556-3523|

A photo accompanying this announcement is available at