Benchmark study details on-farm generation of ag plastics

In an 18-month research project to identify the types and amount of plastic packaging and products used in the agricultural sector across Canada, Cleanfarms has released a first-ever national benchmark report that documents how much of these plastic materials are generated by sector and by region across the country.


The report, Agricultural Plastic Characterization and Management on Canadian Farms, has been posted to


“This data is available at an important time. There is considerable activity at the global level aimed at changing the ways that plastics are managed,” said Cleanfarms executive director Barry Friesen. “Closer to home, we can now measure our progress just as new initiatives are put in place that complement both established and high-performing recycling programs and the ongoing commitment in the farming community to do even more.”


Cleanfarms currently operates a Canada-wide program that recovers empty 23L and smaller pesticide and fertilizer containers. The program has been in operation for 30 years. In 2020, 76 per cent of the empty containers were recovered for recycling.


The research estimates that Canadian farmers use nearly 62,000 tonnes of ag plastic products and packaging annually. More than half of that, about 53 per cent, is generated in the Prairie provinces; Ontario and Quebec combined generate another 37 per cent; BC accounts for about seven per cent, and the Maritimes produce the remainder at three per cent. 


Field crop production, which includes grain and oilseeds and growing hay and fodder for livestock account for 59 per cent of the total amount generated annually in the form of grain bags, silage wrap, bale wrap, baler wrap and bunker covers. Vegetable production, whether in field or in greenhouses accounts for another 10 per cent of the annual total and include items such as propagation trays and greenhouse films.


The research was funded in part by Environment and Climate Change Canada.


Source: Cleanfarms August 3, 2021 news release

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Publish date: 
Tuesday, August 3, 2021

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