N.C. Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services (NCDA & CS): Exemplary Support of Pesticide Container Recycling

In 1993, the North Carolina General Assembly enacted legislation creating the Pesticide Environmental Trust Fund (PETF).  This law requires companies registering pesticide products in North Carolina to pay an additional $25 or $50 environmental assessment fee for each brand registered with the N.C. Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services (NCDA & CS).  Companies must pay $25 for products with annual sales less than $5,000, and $50 for products with annual sales $5,000 or greater.  Fees collected from this assessment are deposited into the Department's Pesticide Environmental Trust Fund.

The predominant purpose of the fund is for those pesticide-related environmental programs administered by NCDA & CS.   Most importantly, the PETF provides funding for pesticide container recycling programs in a majority of the counties in North Carolina. Annual grants up to $12,500 are available annually, and can be used to fund storage containers, shelters, signage, PPE, pressure rinse nozzles and outreach materials. The first grants were awarded in 1995. Since then a total of $1.16 million has been awarded through 187 grants to 91 of the 100 counties in North Carolina. Currently 66 counties operate and maintain pesticide container collection sites in the state.

To qualify for PETF grants, counties must demonstrate local support of county extension agents, the Farm Bureau, county commissioners, farmers, applicators, pesticide dealerships, county solid waste and state transportation departments. 

Dr. Henry Wade, Environmental Programs Manager, Structural Pest Control and Pesticides Division, NCDA & CA administers the use of the PETF grants as well as the statewide pesticide container recycling program. Dr. Wade enthusiastically promotes and supports the program and manages seven pesticide inspectors to monitor the collection sites on a regular schedule and perform annual on-site audits. Each county collection site must submit an annual report. Financial audits of each program are also performed. Counties also vie for the annual John L. Smith Pesticide Container Recycling Program Award.

A new challenge faced by NCDA &CS in 2009 was passage of the North Carolina Solid Waste statute that prohibits the disposal in landfills of any rigid plastic container from 8 oz. to 5 gal in size GS 130A-309.10 (f)(11). Pesticide containers not properly prepared for recycling could create problems when commingled with other HPDE plastic that may be used for non-industrial products. Therefore, county site personnel receive special training to inspect pesticide containers for proper rinsing and ensure that they are kept separate from other recycled HDPE plastic.

The NCDA & CS works closely with the ACRC and USAg Recycling, the ACRC contractor for North Carolina, in improving and expanding the container recycling program. Commitment to providing statewide user friendly pesticide container recycling opportunity has resulted in more than 6,600,000 pounds of containers being recycled in North Carolina, making it the eighth highest state in container recycling. The dedicated efforts and performance of the NCDA & CS provide a model for other state level pesticide stewardship organizations and are indeed worthy of TPSA recognition as a program of excellence.