Lacombe County, Red Deer County, and Ponoka County recently joined together to ensure the proper recycling of plastic grain bags.
“For a number of years, Council has explored options for recycling agricultural plastics,” explained Lacombe County Reeve, Paula Law. “While this program won’t be operated on a cost recovery basis, it does eliminate expenditures associated with tipping fees when agriculture plastics are landfilled. The partnership with other counties provides an economy of scale for manpower and equipment while providing local producers with a recycling option that promotes sustainable agricultural practices.”
“The Ag Plastics Recycling Program is an important project for Red Deer County and our agricultural community. Not only does it show strong collaboration between neighbouring municipalities, it will take large volumes of plastics out of the landfill and allow them to be repurposed. This is a positive for our environment and our economy,” said Red Deer County Mayor Jim Woods.
“While the concern with agricultural plastic waste is more than a regional issue, I’m pleased that our three counties were able to come together to find a local solution,” said Paul McLauchlin, Ponoka County Reeve. “Our hope is that local producers will help us make this program a long-term success so that other municipalities could use it as a model when creating their own plan.”
In August, the three counties signed an agreement with Merlin Plastics – one of the largest plastic recyclers in Western Canada. The plastic grain bags, collected from central Alberta agriculture producers, will be delivered to a recycling facility in southern Alberta. From there, the plastic will be processed and turned into pellets, which are then utilized by a plastics manufacturer. Both the pelletizing and manufacturing will occur in Alberta.
“We are pleased to have a made-in-Alberta solution that doesn’t involve the product being sent overseas and, subsequently, lost track of. Through this arrangement with Merlin Plastics, our counties have an assurance that the plastic is not only recycled, but will also have a practical use after,” said Reeve Law.
This service will begin in November 2018 and is offered free of charge to agricultural producers operating within Lacombe County, Ponoka County, and Red Deer County. Lacombe County will be responsible for providing grain bag collection services. The grain bags will be processed with a grain bag roller on site and collected for eventual delivery to the recycling center.
Agricultural producers who request grain bag recycling services must have a person on site who is capable of assisting with the rolling and collection operation.
Grain bags must be free of grain, mud, dirt, debris, and vermin. To ensure used grain bags are eligible for recycling, grain bag collection services should be scheduled within one week of grain extraction.