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Agassiz farmers dig into pockets to recycle plastics

When a pilot project aimed at reducing agricultural plastics in the Bailey Landfill ended last year, local farmers took up the slack and kept the program going. They held their first drop off last week, collecting about 10 tons of ag plastic.  - Photo courtesy of Jim Grieshaber-Otto
When a pilot project aimed at reducing agricultural plastics in the Bailey Landfill ended last year, local farmers took up the slack and kept the program going. They held their first drop off last week, collecting about 10 tons of ag plastic.
— image credit: Photo courtesy of Jim Grieshaber-Otto

Kent farmers are continuing to divert plastics from the Bailey landfill, picking up where a government funded pilot project left off.

The Kent Ag Plastics Recycling program has proven extremely popular with local farmers, who are now regularly collecting various plastics on their farms. While the previous pilot project was funded by the regional government, the farmers are now paying out of pocket to keep it going.

Last Thursday and Friday, they held their first drop off, in which local farmers brought their one ton bags full of plastics to the Schwichtenberg farm. Eighteen farmers took part in the program, each paying $20 a bag for the service. Those plastics will now head to Westcoast Plastics Recycling in Richmond. In total, about 10 tons was collected.

Before the program began, farmers would have had to drive the plastics to Bailey Landfill in Chilliwack for disposal. The previous pilot program was funded by FVRD and the District of Kent, and set up local farms with the one ton bags. During that  program, farmers got into the new habit of storing the plastics and delivering them a few times year. That project ended last fall, but a non-profit association has been built to keep it going.

The directors are Dave Hastie, Kim Sutherland, Jim Grieshaber-Otto, and Duane Post.

Hastie said they are hoping that a source of funding can be established to enable the program to continue.

"Until then, the farmers will be carrying the costs along with volunteers and donations of space and equipment," he said. Last week's collection wouldn't have been possible without help from The Back Porch, Heritage Coffee House, Holberg Farms, Woodside Farms, First Class Waste, and of course, the participating farms.

"There are similar programs now established in Saskatchewan and Ontario, and it is our hope that through the efforts of farmers and volunteers, a permanent program be established in B.C." Hastie added.

He said it's estimated that hundreds of thousands of agricultural plastics are ending up in Bailey Landfill each year.

The next drop off will be in September. Anyone with feedback, or any interest in getting involved, can phone Dave Hastie at 604-796-9454.

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