Grain bags and twine can now be recycled thanks to pilot program

A photo of rolled-up grain bags ready for recycling. Supplied/Cleanfarms

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Farmers in the Peace Country will now be able to recycle both grain bags and twine instead of throwing them out, storing them or burning them.

Operating out of the Fairview and Clairmont landfills, a pilot program called Alberta Ag-Plastic. Recycle It! will now be taking both grain bags and twine to be recycled.

North Peace Regional Landfill manager Dennis Lang explained that the pilot program started to be developed last year and this is the first full year it will be running.

“Grain bags have been around for decades, farmers are going to continue using them,” said Lang during an interview on April 24.

“They are very handy for big farms getting the crop off and contained, especially with unpredictable weather. They are a very good temporary storage. The plastic used is low density polyester and it can be recycled.”

Before, farmers only had the choice of disposing of the grain bags in the landfill or illegally burning them.

“There was no recycling program set up before,” Lang said.

“If you drive in the country, you will see piles of grain bags in the fields. Some producers have even taken to burning them, which is not legal and also not good for the environment. They’re contaminating their own fields and possibly their neighbours.”

Northern Alberta has three collection sites, one in Fairview, one in High Level and one in the County of Grande Prairie at the Clairmont Centre for Recycling and Waste Management.

Cleanfarms, which operates the program, aims to add more pilot collection locations in year two (2020) and again in year three (2021), while decisions on the direction of the pilot program are made by the Agricultural Plastics Recycling Group.

The pilot is being funded through a grant from the Government of Alberta and administered by Alberta Beef Producers.

The North Peace Regional Landfill requires advanced notice if a person is coming in to drop off grain bags to be recycled. The Clairmont site has select days available when individuals may bring in their grain bags. Both locations require the grain bags be clean and rolled up tightly and wrapped with plastic bailing twine. There is a designated area where they are permitted to be unloaded.

The “Alberta Ag-plastic. Recycle it!” pilot program provides plastic bags to farmers free of charge to help them manage their baling twine on farm before bringing it into a pilot collection site for recycling. The bags are made with post consumer recycled content and are available at pilot collection sites as well as some municipal offices.

Farmers are encouraged to call their local collection site or local county/MD office to obtain the collection bags. When the collection sites have approximately 110-120 machine rolled bales of grain bags, Cleanfarms will co-ordinate with local contractors to have that material picked up and shipped to an inspected and approved recycling facility. Twine is collected throughout the year and sent to consolidation points in the province where it is baled and then shipped to an inspected and approved recycling facility.

“If you look at the big cities, who wants another landfill beside their house,” Lang added. “It is hard to acquire the land, so we’ve got to get smarter about dealing with our garbage.”

Farmers who are interested in participating in the program can visit for individual collection site information.

Editor’s note: The story was updated to reflect that the decisions on the direction of the pilot program are made by the Agricultural Plastics Recycling Group and to elaborate on the program.