The Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako (RDBN) received a report updating the progress of the three-year Cleanfarms agriculture plastic recycling pilot project, which began in June of 2021.
Cleanfarms, a non-profit environmental stewardship organization, launched the project with the intention to encourage the recycling of agriculture plastic that comes from everyday farming items such as bale wrap, twine bags, bunker covers and silage bags. The program provides recyclable agriculture bags which can be picked up at various pilot sites, where they can also be brought back for recycling.
The overarching goal of the program is to work towards presenting date and facts to he ministry to open up the possibility for an extended producer responsibility program for the region in the future.
There are seven collection sites for the project within the RDBN including the Southside Transfer Station and the Burns Lake Transfer Station. The two sites that have received the highest volume of plastic so far is the Smithers/Telkwa Transfer Station and the Vanderhoof Transfer Station.
According to the report, sites across the pilot project have seen an increase in material accumulation with the onset of the winter feeding season. In terms of overall volume accumulated, Cleanfarms says that its been higher than expected for the start of the project.
In 2021, 60 bags of silage plastic, 56 bags of bale wrap, and 16 bags of twine have been picked up. This represents collection from the sites in Burns Lake, Vanderhoof and Smithers/Telkwa, and approximately half of the material that had been dropped off by farmers at time of collection. Another collection is planned for early 2022.
The recycled material will be sent to DBS Environmental in Lethbridge, Alberta for further sorting, baling and assessment, which will provide a good indication of the overall quality of the material being collected.
Cleanfarms told the RDBN Waste Management Committee that they are currently searching for a a suitable consolidation and baling facility in or near the regional district.
There were also several challenge solutions identified with the project moving forward, the most important being contractor development. According to the report, Cleanfarms has been working to develop relationships with collection contractors and baling contractors in Northern B.C. for servicing the program. Multiple delays occurred to servicing the pilots in the fall and winter 2021 which Cleanfarms is seeking to remedy in 2022.
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