A 2012 study estimates that 5,500 tonnes of non-organic waste are generated on British Columbia (B.C.) farms each year. About two-thirds of this waste is plastic.
The British Columbia Agricultural Packaging Waste Stewardship Study received funding through CleanFARMS, a leading, national stewardship organization, and the B.C. Agriculture Council. The study shows how agricultural producers of packaging will be responsible for managing the cost for collecting and recycling packaging that goes to B.C. households by May, 2014.
"The study shows there are a lot of different types of waste on farms, like plastic and cardboard, that needs programs that will allow farmers to recycle those products," CleanFARMS General Manager Barry Friesen said in a November 6, 2012 announcement about the study.
The plastic waste generally comes from bale wrap, fertilizer and seed bags, greenhouse film, silage film and pesticide containers.
The study concludes that very few programs give farmers the opportunity to recycle waste from products. The study also finds farmers get rid of the waste by taking it to the landfill, reusing it or burning it on the farm.
An additional 32,000 tonnes of packaging are used each year to transport farm products to retail stores and households, the study found.
Common materials used for packaging include corrugated cardboard, plant pots, trays and plastic clamshell packaging.
CleanFARMS says it will use the results of the study to develop stewardship programs for the types of waste identified.
"We've had tremendous success with farmers returning empty pesticide containers for recycling as well as returning obsolete pesticides to be safely disposed," Friesen said in the announcement. "We see an opportunity to build on our existing initiatives to develop programs to manage all on-farm waste."
CleanFARMS currently operates a national empty pesticide and fertilizer container collection program and an obsolete pesticide collection campaign.