Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Agricultural Product Stewardship & EPR in Canada

By Barry Friesen, P. Eng, General Manager, CleanFARMS

Packaging and product waste in Canada is almost equal in volume between commercial and residential sources. To date, regulated extended producer responsibility (EPR) programs have targeted mainly household and general consumer products. The crop protection industry, on the commercial side however, has been delivering product stewardship programs to farmers on a voluntary basis for 24 years. Since 1989, the crop protection industry has been operating what is now a Canada-wide collection program for commercial pesticide and fertilizer containers and obsolete commercial pesticide products.

Farmer Guide - CleanFARMS, established in 2010, took over the pesticide container program and has now expanded it to include liquid fertilizers. It is now extending its reach to establish permanent programs for a variety of products such as grain storage bags, bale/silage wrap, twine and netting. To assist farmers in Ontario, CleanFARMS, with funding from the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, produced a ‘GUIDE TO RECYCLING NON-NUTRIENT AGRICULTURAL WASTE IN ONTARIO’.  This guide offers a one-stop reference to permanent programs available to Ontario farmers.

Studies - CleanFARMS has also been working with all provinces to establish permanent programs for the collection and recycling of all non-nutrient agricultural wastes. CleanFARMS’ approach has been to conduct waste characterization studies, farmer attitude and behavior surveys, collection and processing option evaluations and pilot programming. The end result of this work is to lead the way to establishing permanent programs.

It should be noted that not every program needs to be regulated.  The pesticide container program, which recently expanded to include liquid fertilizer containers, is voluntary in most provinces and has a 66% recovery of all commercial containers. The studies will include determining if backdrop regulation is necessary or if a voluntary (the preferred) approach can suffice for other products. Results of the studies can be found on CleanFARMS’ website under its ‘Resources’ tab at www.cleanfarms.ca .

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