Prairie Post (East Edition)

Alberta Recycling Pilot for grain bags and baler twine extended to August 2023, Cypress County happy


A pilot program enabling farmers in Alberta to recycle grain bags and baler twine has been extended beyond its original three-year limit and has been granted $115,000 in additional funding. Scheduled to end this month (April 2022), the ‘Alberta Ag Plastic. Recycle It!’ recycling pilot will now continue operations until at least the end of August 2023.

“This extension opens doors to expand the program to areas of the province not previously included, broadening opportunit­ies for more farmers to participat­e in the program by recycling their grain bags and used baler twine,” said Al Kemmere, chair of the multi-stakeholde­r project lead, the Agricultur­al Plastics Recycling Group (APRG). “The long-term goal of the group is to expand the pilot into a permanent program.”

Alberta’s Ministry of Agricultur­e, Forestry and Rural Economic Developmen­t funded the pilot with $1M in 2019 and granted the extension and additional funds.

“Farmers are dedicated stewards of our lands, and this program makes it easier for them to recycle commonlyus­ed items like grain bags and baler twine,” says Nate Horner, Minister of Agricultur­e, Forestry and Rural Economic Developmen­t. “We’ve been so impressed with participat­ion in the pilot program that extending it even further was an easy decision.”

Participat­ion by farmers who use grain bags has been robust over the three years of the pilot with more than 1,700 tonnes of grain bag plastic recycled. This level of participat­ion has generated valuable data to anticipate collection, transporta­tion and recycling costs for a provincewi­de, permanent program.

“The extension will focus on increasing participat­ion for baler twine recycling,” said Barry Friesen, executive director of Cleanfarms which operates the program. “It will enable us to investigat­e potential barriers to twine recycling and target education and promotion to encourage farmers to bring back more of this used material.”

To date, about 230 tonnes of baler twine has been recovered in the pilot, which is the equivalent of over 10 semitraile­rs, fully loaded.

Farmers can go to AlbertaAgP­ on the Cleanfarms website to find twine and grain bag collection sites and instructio­ns on how to prepare the material for recycling.

The Agricultur­al Plastics Recycling Group (APRG) formed in 2016 to find solutions for agricultur­al plastics. The APRG is made up of partners including commodity groups, retailers, municipali­ties, academic institutio­ns, recyclers, and farmers. The group is now focused on the transition of the pilot into a permanent program as well as exploring solutions for other ag plastics such as bale wrap and silage plastic.

The pilot project is led by the multi-stakeholde­r Agricultur­al Plastics Recycling Group; funds were granted by the Government of Alberta and are administer­ed by Alberta Beef Producers.

Officials with Cypress County, which operates seven collection sites for the recycled materials, were glad to hear of the extension, as they have found many local farmers are on board with the program.

Currently, Cypress County only operates twine collection sites, as the county already offer grain bag rolling and recycling. Twine can be dropped off at transfer sites in Dunmore, Seven Persons, Irvine, Elkwater, Walsh and Schuler, as well as the Redcliff/Cypress Regional Landfill during operating hours.

(With files from Alberta Newspaper Group)

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