Sask. to test-drive grain bag recycling program

Saskatchewan’s ag development and diversification boards will kick off a one-year provincewide pilot project in July to collect used grain bags, twine and other ag plastics for recycling.

The province and federal government on Thursday announced $160,000 in Growing Forward funding for the project while the project’s administrator, the Provincial Council of Agriculture Development and Diversification Boards (PCAB), will put up $50,000.

The program is to include up to six separate pilot projects throughout the province, each of which could include multiple collection sites, from which up to 2,000 tonnes of collected plastic would be shipped to Calgary for recycling.

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The provincial ag ministry said it will work with stakeholders to finalize locations for the individual projects and collection sites.

All pilot projects are to be “fully operational” by July, the province said.

“Grain bags are becoming an increasingly popular method of grain storage for Saskatchewan farmers,” provincial Ag Minister Bob Bjornerud said in a release. “These pilot projects will help to address the challenge of disposing these grain bags in an environmentally responsible method.”

Saskatoon-based PCAB, the ag programming agency that already delivers Saskatchewan’s federal/provincial Farm Stewardship Program and Environmental Farm Plan (EFP) program, can be reached at 1-866-298-7222 for more information on the pilot plan.

Grain bags, which run several dozen metres in length, are expected to become increasingly popular as temporary storage for wheat and silage, especially among expansion-minded farmers renting land but lacking the bin space to keep the additional crop.

According to the province’s environment ministry, Saskatchewan farmers currently go through 12,000 to 16,000 grain bags per year.

The bags can weigh up to about 700 pounds each and some farmers have previously disposed of them through burning, which in Saskatchewan is prohibited under the Clean Air Act.

The provincewide recycling pilot follows a regional program launched last spring by Moose Jaw River Watershed Stewards to collect used grain bags and plastic twine for shipment to Alberta.

The group, backed by 14 municipalities in the Moose Jaw area, maintains two collection depots and loans out a grain bag rolling machine to farmers to compact their used bags for shipping. It plans to continue its own project until September this year.

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