Saskatchewan's Grain Bag Collection Program collects used agricultural grain bags in the province and ensures the plastic is recycled rather than ending up in landfill sites.
The program which is run through Cleanfarms has hit a four-year milestone with the permanent program, it started in 2018 after the success of the pilot program.
Cleanfarms Executive Director Barry Friesen says since the start of the program, they've collected 8500 tons of grain bags.
"Literally tens of thousands of grain bags every year are used in Saskatchewan, and we collect them for recycling. We pick these things up, they get processed and made into new plastic products. It's great for the environment, it's great for the farmer to be able to clean up the farm, and ultimately it creates jobs in Saskatchewan."
Saskatchewan's growers use more grain bags annually, than farmers in any other province.
The number of collection sites that are now available throughout the province is another example of the growth and increasing stability of the program.
Cleanfarms operates a variety of safe collection programs for a wide range of used agricultural materials from empty plastic pesticide and fertilizer jugs, totes and drums, to unwanted or old pesticides and obsolete animal health medications.
He says the Grain Bag Collection Program has grown and developed over the years.
"When we launched Saskatchewan’s permanent, province-wide program under the government regulation in 2018, we started with 16 collection sites. Four years later, we have 45 for grain bag sites."
Friesen says currently there are no recycling plants for grain bag plastics in the province.
"Cleanfarms, which supports development of domestic markets, ships the majority of material to recycling facilities in Alberta, with a small amount shipped to a US-based recycler. Using domestic (Canadian) markets means that Cleanfarms can more easily track and monitor how the material is processed so that health and safety procedures are followed, ensure costs are reduced, and support local Western Canadian businesses."
He notes in the past four years alone, Cleanfarms has invested $2 million in local economies in the province with just the grain bag program.
"But that’s the tip of the iceberg. Over the past 10 years, considering the five permanent programs and numerous recycling collection pilots that we’ve operated here, we’ve invested close to $50 million in supporting Saskatchewan’s small businesses. That’s evidence that we take seriously our responsibility to be a good corporate citizen under our registration to operate as a not-for-profit in Saskatchewan."
Friesen says to ensure that Cleanfarms has feet on the ground in Saskatchewan, it has hired a full time western project coordinator - Tammy Shields - who will be working out of Moose Jaw.
Cleanfarms is a leader in providing environmentally-responsible programs to farmers/growers to help them manage used ag plastic materials and other ag packaging when they are no longer useful on the farm.
Here is a map of Cleanfarms Container, Grain Bag and Twine collection sites in Saskatchewan.