The Saskatchewan government has approved a new recycling program for agricultural grain bags, giving producers a more responsible option to return the large, heavy bags in an environmentally friendly way.

“This makes Saskatchewan the first province in Canada with a regulated agricultural plastics recycling program,” Environment Minister Dustin Duncan stated in a release Friday.

The grain bag recycling program will be run by Cleanfarms, a non-profit organization that operates a number of different initiatives to help farmers safely dispose of a variety of farm chemicals and materials.

“We know that Saskatchewan farmers want to do the right thing for their land and communities,” General Manager of Cleanfarms Barry Friesen said. “Our team is looking forward to being part of this new work and to help farmers be even more sustainable.”

The program stems from a pilot project operated by Simply Agriculture Solutions from 2011 up until last year. Through the six-year pilot program the government says the equivalent of around 28,000 grain bags worth of material was shipped to recyclers.

“Saskatchewan producers are responsible stewards of their land,” said Todd Lewis, Agricultural Producers Association of Saskatchewan President. “They care deeply about sustainability, and are aware of how their actions today could affect future generations. Our members will be pleased to see the launch of this program.”

A total of 20 grain bag collection sites will be established in 2018, with more planned for 2019.

The new program will include an environmental handling fee of $0.25 per kilogram, to be paid at the point of purchase starting November 1st 2018.