Hillsborough County pesticide collection aides farmers, protects environment
By: Samantha Grenrock, 352-294-3307, firstname.lastname@example.org
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — When a pesticide is discontinued or banned by the U.S. Department of Environmental Protection, farmers may opt to store these products until they figure out how to dispose of them properly, says Stephen Gran, director of the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension Hillsborough County.
However, this temporary solution should be just that—temporary, Gran explained.
“Storing these products for long periods poses unnecessary risks to employees, the community and the environment,” Gran explained. “However, proper disposal can be hard to secure, especially for smaller agricultural operations. We knew a public collection program could help farmers get rid of unusable inventory while mitigating potential environmental impacts.”
Starting in 2003, UF/IFAS Extension Hillsborough County began collaborating with state and county agencies to provide free collection, handling and disposal of canceled pesticides to area farmers. In 2016, the pesticide collection program collected and disposed of more than 7,500 pounds of pesticides. Over 92,000 pounds have been collected since the start of the program, he said.
There is strong demand for this kind of service, Gran said. “There has been a larger than expected response to the program because not all growers are aware of disposal options for the discontinued products they might have in storage,” he said.
The program also works to educate the agricultural community about disposal options. On collection days, vegetable and ornamental horticulture agents with UF/IFAS Extension Hillsborough County are on site to answer participants’ questions and offer science-based educational materials on pesticide use and disposal, Gran said.
U.S. Ecology Tampa, hazardous waste disposal provider for Hillsborough County, hauls collected pesticide to a regulated waste landfill to be destroyed.
The program is funded by the Environmental Protection Commission Pollution Recovery Fund, and is made possible through the cooperation of the Hillsborough County economic development department’s Agriculture Industry Development Program, the Environmental Protection Commission of Hillsborough County, U.S. Ecology Tampa and UF/IFAS Extension Hillsborough County.