When Nash County held its pesticide collection day last Thursday, only 763.5 lbs was needed for the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Pesticide Disposal Assistance program to surpass three million. “We collected more than 6,000 pounds,” said Derrick Bell, Pesticide Disposal Assistance Program manager. “After last year’s collections we were about 68,000 pounds from 3 million pounds collected since the program began in 1980. However, we never thought we would collect so much so early in the year.”
“North Carolina’s was the first pesticide disposal program in the nation,” said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. “Based on weight, pesticides are more expensive and more problematic than latex paints or old gasoline for counties to collect. This program gives the county and its residents a safe way to dispose of old, outdated, banned or unwanted pesticides.”
The program is paid for through the Pesticide Environmental Trust Fund, which receives money through registration fees that companies pay on each pesticide product sold in the state and through an appropriation from the General Assembly.
The program rotates collection days among all 100 counties so that each county has a collection day every other year. Collections are handled through county Cooperative Extension offices. Pickups are sometimes coordinated through a county’s household hazardous waste program. In special situations, pesticide disposal assistance staff will go to a home or farm to assist with materials. “Our collections give farmers and homeowners a chance to dispose of some really dangerous pesticides,” said Bell. “It is still not unusual for farmers to bring in Agent Orange or DDT or other pesticides that are no longer used because we now know the dangers they cause of our environment.”
Since 1976, it has been illegal to dispose of pesticides in landfills. This program provides a way for them to be disposed of in a safe and environmentally friendly way. “This is a really great program for North Carolina,” Troxler said. “Only about half the states have a program like this one, and in those states without a program it is not really clear what they are doing with old pesticides. Our program helps make sure these products are collected and contained in a way that protects our land and water resources.”
Several more collection days are scheduled for this spring, including in Cleveland, Iredell, Johnston, Chowan, Wilson, Caswell, Rowan and Yadkin counties. For a complete list of collection sites and more information on the Pesticide Disposal Assistance Program, go to the website www.ncagr.gov/PDAP/.