The Regional District of Bulkley Nechako (RDBN) is set to participate in a pilot program by Clean Farms B.C., which will be targeted towards finding solutions to manage and properly get rid of agricultural plastics.
“With agricultural plastics, there is a lot of material like plastic twine, bale wrap and netting to store and package hay. Clean Farms, the organization that is heading this, is working across Canada on pilot programs for this. They have been looking at this agricultural plastics to get in to an EPR program within BC and so they approached us, the Peace Regional District and the Regional District of Fraser-Fort George,” said RDBN’s Waste Diversion Supervisor, Janette Derksen.
Currently, there is no Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) program for agricultiral plastics, in the three regions. An EPR program puts the onus back on the producers to ensure that the material they produce and use, gets disposed at the end of its life and is recycled properly.
The program by Clean Farms is a three-year pilot program that would work towards presenting facts and data to the ministry in the hopes that the ministry will see the data as a possibility for an EPR program for the regions and based on those facts develop an EPR program, according to Derksen.
“It is exciting for us; it is something that we have in our Solid Waste Management Plan, that we want to look at diverting that waste from our landfills,” she said, adding that while some farmers might be dealing with their waste on their own, the majority of the growers and producers take their waste to the landfills.
The pilot program will be divided into two phases. The first phase is a waste characterization study, like a feasibility study. Under this, Clean Farms BC will hire a consultant and work with the three regional districts to try and understand how much volume of this kind of waste is generated in the regions and try and look at the mechanisms to be able to create a collection program. They will also look at that cost-benefit and see what the cost would look like if the program is run for three years.
“So the RDBN has only committed for the first phase and there is a small portion of money that is set aside, and we are going to enter into the first phase with Clean Farms as well as the two regional districts to do the feasibility study,” said Derksen adding that after the study, the regional district would invite Clean Farms BC back to the table to present their findings, see the costs for the entire program and how much regional districts share would come to.
“Once all that is done, they are hoping to start the actual collection in 2021 extending on for three years and presenting it to the Ministry’s EPR program. And if the board commits to this second phase, it will be a budgeted item,” said Derksen. In case the board determines that the second phase won’t be sustainable, they will have a choice to back out of the program before entering phase two.