Cleanfarms has announced that it is changing its recycling drop off locations in Manitoba where producers take empty 23L and smaller plastic pesticide and fertilizer containers.

The recycling collection system is gradually transitioning from sites at municipal transfer stations and landfill facilities to collecting empty ag jugs at Manitoba agricultural retail operations.

The transition to ag retailers is being phased in over three years. The first phase is starting with municipal collection sites that, even though open to receive empty containers from producers, have had little or no containers dropped off there for the past few years.

Cleanfarms Executive Director Barry Friesen said there are several reasons why the change to ag retailers makes sense.

“Transitioning to a retail-based collection for the jug program shifts responsibility to accept empty containers from Manitoba municipalities to the ag industry, which harmonizes the collection system across Canada. In all other provinces except Manitoba and Alberta, we collect empty containers at ag retailers,” Friesen said. Alberta will be transitioned on the same three-year schedule.

Friesen noted that collecting small ag pesticide and fertilizer containers at ag retailers makes recycling the empty containers more convenient for producers.

“For one thing, having ag retailers accept empty containers means we have more drop off locations with longer operating hours,” Friesen said. “For another, producers can return small and large bulk containers to a location that they already go to on a regular basis. It makes recycling easier for most growers.” 

Currently, producers return empty bulk containers—23L to 1000L drums and totes—to ag retailers while they take smaller empty containers to municipal collection sites for recycling. 

Friesen said another advantage of the revised drop off system is that when producers go to ag retailers to purchase crop input products, they can get a free large plastic bag that makes collecting, storing and transporting small empty containers more efficient. The bags hold about 45 empty containers each. 

“Producers like the plastic bags,” Friesen says. “They make managing empty containers simple. In provinces where we’ve been using plastic bags for a while, recycling rates have increased. Bags make it easier to manage empties so producers bring back more of them for recycling. This works quite well.”

Cleanfarms is also making it easier for high-volume generators of empty jugs such as aerial applicators, landscapers and large acreage farms to recycle more containers. Operators can arrange for on-site pickup.
Friesen said he’s very grateful to Manitoba municipalities for helping to make the container recycling program a successful packaging stewardship program in Canada.

“We owe our gratitude to Manitoba municipalities for giving producers a convenient location to drop off empty containers. Now ag retailers in those areas will step into those big shoes. Our plan is to have every ag retailer that sells product in 23L containers accept the empty jugs from their customers to ensure producers have the same or better access to recycling. So, it should be convenient,” added Friesen.

The phased in approach will see 10 local areas transition in early 2022. As noted, these municipal locations have not been extensively used in recent years. In case producers do go there, signage is prominent, along with Cleanfarms website information to redirect producers to the new, nearby collection sites. Ag retailer sites will open, some even before municipal sites close, to accept empty pesticide and fertilizer containers.

Communications and notifications will occur prior to each round of transitions and all information will be included on the Cleanfarms website at

Producers should ask their ag retailers when they can start returning empty jugs to those locations.