Sign up for ChemSweep program soon

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Pesticides have become one of several tools used by farmers, green industry professionals, and the home structural industry to manage a variety of pests.

If used according to the label, they pose very little risk to the applicator or the environment.

However, there are times when these pesticide products are no longer needed because of a company/farm closing, out-of-date product, or a reduction in efficacy compared to newer chemistries in the market.

In the past, very few options existed for these unwanted products. Probably the two most common actions were disposal in a landfill or left sitting in the corner of a barn or company shed for long-term storage. The landfill option is not good, as these facilities were not designed to handle hazardous waste. In the long-term storage option, containers can deteriorate over the years and release their contents. Or they are simply forgotten, labels fall off and disintegrate, and no one knows what is in the container.

Over the years, the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture (PDA) has created a program to dispose of unwanted pesticides safely and easily — through its ChemSweep program.

PDA targets several counties every year, and Clinton and Centre are on the list for 2018. Lycoming will be able to participate in 2019.

It has become a very popular initiative, as more than 2.4 million pounds of unwanted or unusable pesticides have been properly destroyed through the program since it was established in 1993.

Licensed pesticide applicators, pesticide dealers and commercial pesticide application businesses within this year’s eligible counties can participate by completing PDA’s registration/inventory form.

The signup period is limited and ends Feb. 28.

So what happens to these unwanted/unused products? An independent contractor hired by PDA collects and packages all waste pesticides at each participating location, primarily for incineration at facilities approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. ChemSweep covers the disposal cost for the first 2,000 pounds per participant. The program is funded through annual registration fees paid by pesticide manufacturers and applicators.

While this program in not available to homeowners, the Wayne Township Landfill occasionally holds Household Hazardous Waste Collection events. Give the landfill a call to see when the next scheduled collection is to take place.

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Tom Butzler is a horticulture educator with the Pennsylvania State University Cooperative Extension Service and may be reached at 570-726-0022.

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