© — Telegram file photo
By Andrew Robinson
Companies looking to get rid of stored-away pesticides that can no longer be used for cosmetic lawn care in Newfoundland and Labrador will now have an option to safely dispose of the product free of charge.
Environment Minister Tom Hedderson told The Telegram on Wednesday that the non-profit organization CleanFARMS has agreed to collect obsolete and unwanted pesticides from businesses, organizations and residents at some point in 2013.
“CleanFARMS have indicated they would be open to doing one this year,” he said, noting that specific dates have not been finalized.
CleanFARMS is an industry stewardship organization initially formed to helped farmers manage their waste. Beyond the free collection program, businesses looking to dispose of pesticides must typically pay a company to do the job.
The last time a similar collection took place was in 2010. CleanFARMS was tentatively scheduled to collect pesticides in the province in October 2015, but the Department of Environment and Conservation contacted the organization to see whether that date could be advanced.
“This is mainly (for) the commercial stuff that has been on the shelves now, and it’s not doing any harm, but it gives these people an opportunity to just get rid of it so that they get more space, if nothing else,” said the minister. “It’s not that there was a great need, but there’s always a need, and if there’s stuff hanging around that’s not going to be used, the best thing for us to do is give some opportunity for it to be taken off the shelves.”
Some people in the province were not happy to know that lawn-care companies were still storing banned pesticides.
The Coalition for Alternatives to Pesticides — Newfoundland and Labrador obtained 2012 licence information for 54 pesticide operator licence holders through an access to information request made to the department last spring.
Of those licences, 12 for lawn-care companies listed products with ingredients that are banned for cosmetic use. Four licence holders were also found to be storing a pesticide subject to a federal ban — diazinon.
The licences must list all pesticides set to be used or stored by the licence holder in a given year. Earlier this year, Landscape Newfoundland and Labrador told The Telegram in an email that several companies were storing pesticides that were either out of date or subject to government bans. It said those companies would dispose of them through the next collection program.
The provincial ban, which came into effect in the spring of 2012, banned the use of carbaryl, 2,4-D (2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid), mecoprop, dicamba and MCPA
(2-methyl-4-chlorophenoxyacetic acid) for cosmetic purposes. Exceptions were granted for golf courses, farms and forestry purposes.
Dr. Ian Simpson, co-chairman of the provincial coalition, wrote a letter to Hedderson in March requesting the department move the collection program up from the October 2015 date.
Reached on Wednesday, Simpson said it was a pleasure to hear that the date had in fact been moved ahead.
“If it’s moving in the right direction, why criticize it?” he said.
Hedderson said the department will advise relevant businesses and the public about the collection dates once they are finalized.
“The details will be released,” he said. “In the meantime, we’re still vigilant in making sure that only those pesticides that can be used are used, and that those that need to be done by qualified people are carried out that way. This is a great opportunity for industry to unload unwanted pesticides.”