SAFELY DISPOSING OF OBSOLETE PRODUCTS
of the estimated 1000 participants in the recent Ontario CleanFARMSTM collection program, 85 percent returned obsolete crop protection products for safe, environmentally responsible disposal. And crop and horticulture farmers led the way when it came to taking action on safe disposal, together making up just over 50 percent of participants.
In October 2009, 16 locations across the province were designated collection sites where farmers could bring their obsolete pesticides, unused animal health products and used sharps (needles, syringes and scalpel blades). The CleanFARMSTM program was part of an Ontario government-supported Great Lakes Basin water quality initiative that offered farmers a free, safe way to recycle and dispose of these items.
The response from the agricultural community to this collection program was tremendous. A survey completed by program participants showed:
- 71 percent of participants were involved in primary production; the remainder represented sectors like ag retail, nurseries and turf management.
- Grains and oilseeds had the highest participation (31 percent), followed by horticulture (22 percent), and beef (12 percent).
- Although many participants asked for more collection site locations, 50 percent travelled less than 25 km to get to a site.
- 69 percent brought crop protection products only, 15 percent brought animal health products only and 16 percent brought both.
- While many participants indicated the crop protection products they were bringing to the collection were in their possession for more than 10 years (31 percent for liquid and 34 percent for solid products), only 17 percent of participants bringing animal health products to the collection had them in their possession for more than 10 years.
- Most participants learned about the collection from their ag retailer (26 percent). Newspapers, other sources and grower associations were also cited as sources of information about the collection (17 percent, 17 percent and 16 percent respectively).
Crop protection collection programs have been run by CropLife Canada since 1998 under the CleanFARMSTM banner. More than 270,000 kilograms of obsolete product have been collected in Ontario during previous collection campaigns in 2001 and 2005. A pilot project collecting just animal health products and used sharps was held at six Ontario sites in the fall of 2008. The 2009 expanded program was run on a trial basis in conjunction with a feasibility study looking at long term, sustainable collection options.
The feasibility study, conducted by eBiz Professionals of Guelph, recommended two approaches to managing long term disposal of these products:
- A combined blitz for animal health products, pesticides and sharps, operated every three or four years using the existing CropLife Canada model and brand
- A separate animal health product and sharps collection and disposal program using return depots situated strategically throughout the livestock-farming regions of the province.
A phone and focus group survey of farmers, conducted as part of the study, showed that safe disposal of pesticides and animal health products is described as “the right thing to do” by a large majority (90 percent) of farmers. Nine out of ten farmers believe that safe disposal will make their farm operations safer and a large majority wants to show other producers (85 percent) and consumers (93 percent) that they are environmentally responsible.
Currently, farmers are managing the waste generated on their farms in a variety of ways, including dealer blitzes for pesticides, veterinarians removing excess or unwanted medications and sharps, on-farm storage, collection services, and on-farm disposal. The study found that dropping product off at the purchase location is the preferred option for a majority of farmers (62 percent). Having these products picked up at the farm is the next-preferred option (20 percent), followed by taking them to the municipal landfill (14 percent).
The CleanFARMSTM program was co-ordinated by AGCare with financial support from CropLife Canada and the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. Other project partners included Ontario Farm Animal Council, Canadian Animal Health Institute, Ontario Veterinary Medical Association and Ontario Agri-Business Association.
A special note of thanks and appreciation goes out to all the program volunteers, as well as to the sixteen retail locations who agreed to host collection sites: Hensall District Co-operative (Ailsa Craig), M&R Feeds and Farm Supply Ltd (Arnprior), Thompsons Limited (Bethany), Hoegy’s Farm Supply Ltd (Brodhagen), Cargill (Courtland), Huron Bay Co-operative (Dundalk), North Wellington Co-operative Services Inc. (Harriston), GROWMARK Inc. – Distribution Centre (Kitchener), Munro’s Agromart Ltd (Lancaster), O’Neill’s Farm Supply (Napanee), Vineland Growers’ Co-operative Ltd (Jordan Station), Co-op Regionale – Temiskaming Ag Centre (Thornloe), Holmes Agro Ltd (Orangeville), Thunder Bay Co-op Farm Supply (Thunder Bay), Cargill (Tilbury), Max Underhill’s Farm Supply Ltd (Vienna).
For more information on the collection or the feasibility study, please contact AGCare at 519-837-1326 or firstname.lastname@example.org. •