Taking aim at farm waste:

CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. — The P.E.I. government has enhanced its recycling programs for the agriculture sector, banning certain materials from being sent to landfills.

On Dec. 1, the province released a statement to the public outlining its plans to continue its work with Cleanfarms to enhance recycling in the province and to ban materials such as plastic bale twine and silage wrap from being dumped as waste.

“It’s a much-needed program and it will reduce the amount of waste farms generate every year,” said Barry Jackson, stewardship manager with the department of Environment, Energy and Climate Action during an interview with SaltWire Network on Dec. 9.

“We need to set some ground rules so that we can all get together collectively.”

The program is run by Cleanfarms, a green-based stewardship organization based out of Toronto that builds on existing extended producer responsibility (EPR) programs in the province.

First passed back in September, the program stated Cleanfarms had three months to work with stakeholders to develop a plan to submit to the province.

“It’s a way for Cleanfarms to gauge the volume of some this material that was coming to the waste watch sites from farmers on the Island,” said Jackson. “A lot of these programs start as volunteer pilots to gauge interest and the level of engagement with the population.”

This is the ninth EPR program launched in the province. These initiatives have sought to reduce the province’s waste in several sectors, including setting up recycling programs for electronics such as laptops and phones.

“Each of these programs have changed to tackle different sectors where recycling can be implemented,” said Jackson.

Work carried out by Cleanfarms will include setting up collection sites for non-biodegradable farm materials previously treated as waste products. The material from the collection sites will be exported to provinces such as Ontario, Quebec and New Brunswick, where it can be recycled into new farming equipment.

P.E.I. currently has no recycling facilities to take on much of this material, hence the reason for exporting it, said Jackson.

“We really don’t have the capacity for recycling the products here on the Island once they are collected,” he said.

Once exported, it will be taken to recycling plants, where it will be turned into items such as drainage tiles, flower pots and lumber wrap, much of which will be sent back to P.E.I. It will also be used to make new silage wrap and bale twine.

Cleanfarms is also responsible for overseeing that materials are being properly recycled by farmers, which is being aided by Island Waste Management Corporation.

Barry Friesen, executive director of Cleanfarms, told SaltWire Network the program is much needed, as it will greatly reduce the waste generated by farms every year.

“For every ton of plastic we collect and recycle, there is 1.7 tonnes of greenhouse gases saved because we displaced virgin resin,” said Friesen.

“If we’re forced to collect it, we’re forced to find markets for these materials.”

He also doesn’t feel farmers in the province will object to the changes, as most farmers already want to do the right thing, he said.

“Farmers want to leave their land in as good or better condition as when they started, they want to make sure everything they use is sustainable. Farmers want to make sure if they’re using fossil fuels, they want it to be as efficient and sustainable as possible,” he added.

“It’s free for them to do that and we continue to encourage them to do so.”

Rafe Wright, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Guardian