From FCC Express, by Trudy Kelly Forsythe
As CleanFARMS wraps up its third year of collecting empty seed and pesticide bags in Ontario, Quebec and the Maritimes, the not-for-profit industry stewardship organization is transitioning the pilot program to an industry-funded program for 2016.
The program allows growers to return their empty seed and pesticide bags to the retail location where they purchased them. At no additional cost to growers, CleanFARMS collects, transports and ensures all collected bags are safely converted into energy at facilities that have extensive emission controls and meet all necessary provincial and federal approvals.
It’s an important service.
“Come spring, farmers find themselves with empty seed and pesticide bags,” says Erin O’Hara, a representative with CleanFARMS. “In the past, some have chosen to throw them away, or worse burn them in the middle of a field.
“They now have the option to safely and responsibly dispose of these bags through the CleanFARMS empty seed and pesticide bag program.”
To help determine the program’s success, CleanFARMS enlisted the services of FarmShift in the spring of 2015 to conduct a baseline study examining the awareness, attitudes and behaviours related to seed and pesticide bag recycling.
In March 2015, the market research firm interviewed 350 Ontario and Quebec growers. The data collected revealed that seven out of 10 Ontario growers burn small seed bags compared to less than a quarter of Quebec growers who are more likely to take them to the landfill. Overall, 17 per cent return their small seed bags to the retailer.
Most large seed bags are returned to the retailer – seven out of 10 in Ontario and just over one third in Quebec – and about one quarter reuse them, primarily for storage of leftover seed crop protection and fertilizer.
While only 14 per cent of the producers surveyed said they use pesticide that comes in bags, of those the most common methods of disposal in Ontario is to return (46 per cent) or burn (45 per cent) them. In Quebec, they are even more likely to return them to the retailer (64 per cent) than burn (27 per cent).
“This program helps farmers contribute to a clean and healthy environment by ensuring their empty bags end up in the right place,” O’Hara says.