Written by: Emily Potter, Northeastern Ont. Regional Communication Coordinator

Dealing with the aftermath of plastics used in various production practices has always been a challenge within the agriculture industry. The agricultural industry needs to adapt practices to deal with used agricultural plastics. That’s why the Northern Ontario Farm Innovation Alliance (NOFIA) and the Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) Northern Caucus have teamed up to address this issue.

Finding ways to deal with used plastics has been a hot topic across the agricultural community for several years now. Landfills across the north are becoming reluctant to accept agriculture plastics. This leaves farmers with challenges in disposing of the plastic properly. The industry would like to be proactive in finding solutions to this issue.

NOFIA completed a study in 2018, assessing the amount of agricultural plastics coming out of Northern Ontario, and evaluating some potential solutions. In response to the outcomes of this study, NOFIA has launched their Northern Ontario Agricultural Plastics Disposal Project.

In partnership with the OFA Northern Caucus and funded by the Canadian Agricultural Partnership, the pilot project aims to improve the end-of-life management of used agricultural plastics across the north. Over the next three years, the hope is to divert over 500 tons of plastic from landfills and other waste management streams.

U-PAC Basket Compactor on display at the 2019 Ontario Federation of Agriculture AGM

U-PAC Basket Compactor on display at the 2019 Ontario Federation of Agriculture AGM

To participate in the pilot, farmers can purchase basket compactors through NOFIA. Single-use bale wrap plastic will be compacted into bales of plastic. Each bale of plastic can encompass approximately 500 bales’ worth of plastic (so feeding 500 bales of stored feed). These plastic bales will then be brought to a central location on specific aggregation days organized by NOFIA to be transported to an end user, BBL Energy, where the plastic will then be converted to energy through pyrolysis.

NOFIA and the OFA also plan to work with municipalities to set up communal compactors to service smaller farms who may not use enough plastic to be able to justify having their own, but still wish to participate and dispose of their plastic in a responsible manner.

Loading the plastic into the compactor is a simple process.

Loading the plastic into the compactor is a simple process.

Although the project has just launched, they are already seeing positive uptake from the agricultural community. Compactors are already set up in Nipissing, Temiskaming, Algoma, Rainy River and Thunder Bay, and more are on their way north.

Currently there is not a formal disposal framework in place for agricultural plastics. This pilot aims to provide a proactive solution to a problem, while exploring the feasibility of this type of system. Through the project, data will be collected on best management practices, conversion efficiencies and costs.

Tractor placing lid on pallet system

The compactor is built to be used with a hydraulic loader system. The plastic will need to be compacted several times before the bale is tied to ensure it doesn’t expand once removed from the pallet system.

 

For more information or to get involved with the pilot project, please visit: https://www.nofia-agri.com/plastics-disposal-pilot

 

 

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