What is it?
Agricultural plastics in Saskatchewan include: grain bags, twine, net wrap, silage plastic, seed bags, pesticide and fertilizer containers. Although these materials are important in helping farmers produce and store their crops, they can have negative impacts on the environment if not handled properly. Currently, of these products, only grain bags and pesticide containers are recycled in Saskatchewan. In 2014, Saskatchewan farmers recycled almost 85,000 kg of plastic grain bags - the weight equivalent to 47 4WD tractors.
What is the issue?
Plastics are made of very stable materials which means they will stay in the environment for a long time after they are discarded. This becomes a dilemma as we build up piles of waste that won't go away. Burning plastic has environmental and health consequences as it produces dioxins, heavy metals, and furans. Dioxins and furans are known carcinogens and have proven negative effects on the immune, nervous, endocrine, and reproductive systems of humans and animals.
Some landfills have banned the disposal of agricultural plastic like grain bags because they are so big and bulky. Pesticide containers, if not properly rinsed, may still contain toxic residues.
Where can it go?
Agricultural plastics are a valuable resource that can be reprocessed into new products. Check out our Waste Reduction Hub to find a drop-off location near you.
Provincial regulations passed in August 2016 require sellers of grain bags to provide a recycling program. Cleanfarms operates the program in the province. See their website for program details and answers to frequently asked questions.
Pesticide / Fertilizer Containers
In Saskatchewan, Cleanfarms operates a voluntary recycling program for empty commercial pesticide and fertilizer containers. Farmers can drop-off their clean containers free of charge to numerous retail collection points across the province. In 2013, the program collected 2,200,468 containers in Saskatchewan alone. This amounts to 816,467 kilograms of plastic that was diverted from landfills and burning barrels across the province.
What happens after?
Agricultural plastics are cleaned and converted into pellets that can be made into plastic bags or products like drainage tile and plastic lumber.
How can I reduce?
Store plastic wrap indoors. This will keep it from degrading in the sunlight, allowing it to last longer.
Buy only what will be totally used up on the farm - You can always go back for more.
Consider permanent structures for storing grain, such as granaries.
Organic farming uses no pesticides or fertilizers, eliminating any associated containers.