Peace Region to soon recycle agricultural plastics

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Throughout the month of October, residents of the Region will be able to recycle any soft agricultural plastic like bale wrap and twine at those locations.

The Eco-Depot in Fort St. John, as well as DC Recycling in Dawson Creek, will also be accepting bundled ag plastic year-round starting October 1.

Recyclers are being asked to shake their plastics clean and bundle them together prior to dropping them off.

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Traditionally, agricultural plastics have not been accepted in municipal recycling programs, due to their bulky nature and concerns for contamination.

The PRRD, in partnership with the Northern Environmental Action Team, has been exploring options for the disposal of soft ag plastics

A survey sent to all farm residents earlier in 2012, indicated that 40 per cent of residents burn their plastics with another 41 per cent disposing them at landfills.

Karen Mason-Bennet of NEAT, says because of the industry in the north, it’s important to introduce a convenient way to dispose of excess plastic.

"We have a fairly agricultural area, so we are obviously generating a lot of plastic residue… So we really want to encourage people and provide them with a fashion of dealing with these things that isn’t really burning them or burying them."

Burning in residents' back yards is of concern, as when plastics are burned in such a manner, they do not reach high enough heat to destroy the chemicals being released.

This method releases pollutants into the air, soil and bodies of water.

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A similar issue develops when plastics are merely deposited in landfills, as they do not bio-degrade; they simply break down into smaller pieces with the same toxic properties, such as mercury.

Agricultural plastic collected within the PRRD will be transported to plastic recyclers in Edmonton and Vancoucer, where they will be made into new products.

Statistics pertaining to the amount of plastic collected will be tallied over a 6 month time period, which will give NEAT a better idea of whether develop the pilot project further or not.

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