By Peggy Brekveld
Vice President, Ontario Federation of Agriculture
As Canada’s on-farm plastic recycling program celebrates 30 years of turning old jugs into new opportunities, the organization behind it has set a new challenge for the agriculture industry. Cleanfarms is calling on farmers to make 2019 the year that every on-farm plastic jug is recycled.
Cleanfarms currently recovers about 65 percent of the plastic containers that are placed in the Canadian marketplace for use in agriculture. Recovered agricultural plastics are recycled into new products that include farm drainage tile, flexible irrigation pipe and garbage bags.
During this year’s Earth Week (April 22-28), Cleanfarms is celebrating 30 years of collecting plastic jugs across Canada that are 23 litres and smaller for recycling.
The Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) congratulates Cleanfarms on the success and longevity of the Cleanfarm programs and encourages Ontario agriculture to rise the challenge of recycling every single plastic jug used on the farm this year.
OFA also recognizes the need to support longer-term initiatives to reduce overall levels of waste produced in our industry. We recently submitted a proposal to the Ontario Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks in response to its Reducing Litter and Waste in Our Communities discussion paper. OFA’s submission outlined the needs of the agriculture sector and our rural and northern communities, and our most important recommendation includes engaging directly with farmers to find cost-effective diversion and processing solutions to farm waste. Reducing waste is often beyond the reach of farmers and depends on manufacturers to help develop viable reduction and recycling strategies.
OFA supports a model for waste reduction that uses existing resources including Cleanfarms to assess our current and future needs for plastic waste recovery, plastic use reduction and diverting plastic to other uses.
Ontario agriculture knows that diverting plastic from landfills conserves land, energy, water and labour resources. Recycling also supports healthy soil and reduces greenhouse gas emissions. These activities are all vital to our thriving agri-food sector and rural communities. OFA continues to work with the provincial government as it moves forward on plans to reduce waste and litter to ensure changes include viable, affordable options for our industry. In the meantime, let’s all rise to the 100 percent recycled challenge for plastic farm jugs this year.
Read OFA’s full submission to the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks at ofa.on.ca – click on Resources, then Submissions and Correspondence for our letter on reducing litter and waste.