Environmental organization Cleanfarms opens location in Lethbridge

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WATCH ABOVE: An environmental organization is setting up shop in southern Alberta to recycle agricultural plastics. Charlye Caldwell has the story – Feb 20, 2020

A Canada-wide environmental organization known for recycling agricultural plastics is setting up shop in Lethbridge.

Cleanfarms is opening an office in Alberta, with the hopes of properly managing ag-plastics in the province.

Alberta Program Advisor Davin Johnson says the move to Alberta was a no-brainer.

“Alberta is an agricultural powerhouse in Canada, and with our programs growing and expanding, we saw a need to have feet on the ground in the province.”

Johnson says Cleanfarms wants to monitor the newly launched “Alberta Ag-plastic. Recycle it!” pilot program.

READ MORE: Grain dryer grant not as important to Lethbridge County farmers as those in northern Alberta

The pilot program will be collecting grain bags and twine at 20 commissioned locations across the province.

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Cleanfarms is partnered with Agricultural Plastics Recycling Group for the three-year grain bag and twine program.

“So for the grain bags and twine, they can find the information on, our website, for where to find the collection locations, hours of operation, when they accept the materials. For the pilot program right now, the 20 sites, most of them are within municipalities.”

Cleanfarms has already seen success in recycling other agricultural items such as:

  • Large empty fertilizer and pesticide containers; operated nationally
  • Unwanted pesticide and livestock medication; operated nationally
  • Empty pesticide and seed bags; operated in eastern Canada, with pilot programs in western Canada
  • Empty grain bags; third year of operations in Saskatchewan

However, there are some concerns about the “Alberta Ag-plastic. Recycle it!” program.

READ MORE: Climate change could open new land for farming in Canada — but comes at a price

With only 20 collection spots across the province, farmers in Alberta are concerned the lack of locations will result in people taking items to the landfill rather than a recycling location.

Stephen Vandervalk, Alberta vice-president of the Western Canadian Wheat Growers Association, says he hopes more locations are added for the success of the pilot program.

“So if we have to go away to the landfill, which is maybe 10 minutes away or 20 minutes away max… to a centralized location that’s an hour, hour-and-a-half away, I think that’s going to be a detriment, that farmers will say, ‘You know what? I’m just going to burn it,’ or do something that they don’t want to do just because it’s not convenient.”

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The “Alberta Ag-plastic. Recycle it!” program will be running until 2022.