A Marlborough chemical collection event clears nearly four tonnes of unwanted agrichemicals, including DDT, lindane and arsenic-based pesticides. Rural recycling programme Agrecovery says it is recovering smaller quantities of legacy and banned chemicals from rural communities than in previous years.

“More recent out-of-date chemicals are being recovered instead,” says Agrecovery General Manager, Simon Andrew. The majority collected at the event last month were fungicides from vineyards.

“This shows that efforts by farmers, growers and recycling programmes are paying off,” he says.

“Clearing old legacy chemicals ensures they don’t end up in landfills or being stored on farms and creating unnecessary risks for people, animals or the environment,” says Andrew. This is a key focus of the programme that also recycles empty agrichemical containers and seeks to do more to reduce rural waste.

Marlborough District Council’s solid waste manager, Alec McNeil, says that New Zealand’s primary industries need infrastructure and services to keep up with the growing demands of the sector. Events like these are one way “to reduce the reliance on burying, bulking or burning hazardous waste”.

It is an example of effective product stewardship, “where the cost of the end of life treatment of products and their associated packaging is funded through a brand holder levy,” says McNeil.

“Widening this approach to everyday household items and packaging would incentivise industry to design out waste at the point of production,” adds McNeil.

By providing safe and sustainable solutions to waste, our rural communities will benefit and so will our environment.

Andrew encourages other farmers and growers to participate in the programme. “No one wants old chemicals accumulating on their land and it’s free for products from participating brand owners.”

To date, the programme has collected almost 100,000 kilos of chemicals since it started nine years ago.