Plastic film, fertilizer, and treated fence posts often end up in burn piles and can pollute the air with cancer-causing substances. It’s important to have alternative outlets for such waste.
Greater emphasis on the responsible management of agricultural wastes now encompasses plastics and other materials at two landfills in British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley.
This spring, the Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen in Penticton, British Columbia, Canada, began waiving tipping fees for agricultural waste that is sorted into plastics, metals, and organic material such as tree stumps and cuttings.
The move is a step towards better management of the local waste stream and improving the air quality in the southern Okanagan region, said RDOS air-quality spokesperson Janice Johnson, coordinator of the initiative.
Johnson is working with orchardists, vegetable growers, and ranchers to reduce the amount of waste burned, often in contravention of provincial waste management regulations, and to responsibly manage the waste coming into regional landfills.
“We’re not just targeting fruit growers. We’re looking at all waste and air pollutant activity, and how can we help minimize that, or, in certain cases, stop it,” Johnson said.
Plastic waste is a primary concern. Though orchards and vineyards generate a relatively small amount of plastic waste, Johnson said anecdotal reports indicate that plastic film, fertilizer and pesticide containers, and PVC irrigation piping often wind up in burn piles along with treated fence posts, tree stumps, and pruned vines and branches.
“I’ve had numerous calls,” Johnson said. “We’re still in shock at how much