2012 Bureau of Agrichemical Management Annual Report

​​2012 Clean Sweep

Wisconsin Clean Sweep offers grants to local governments for the collection and disposal of agricultural waste (AW), household hazardous wastes (HHW) and unwanted prescription drugs (Rx). Farms (both active and inactive), households, and certain businesses, called “Very Small Quantity Generators (VSQGs)”, are eligible to use Clean Sweep services. The program’s goal is to help create options for Wisconsin residents and businesses to protect themselves, their family, livestock, pets and the environment from the harmful effects of improper waste storage and disposal.  Grant recipients are required to provide a 25 percent match of the total project costs. 

Program Activities

In 2012, DATCP awarded grants to every applicant.  Fifty-two counties, three cities, four villages, five tribal nations and a sewerage district were beneficiaries of one or more types of the 31 HHW, 23 AW, and 25 Rx grants made available.  Some grantees were multi-municipal partnerships, reaching broad geographic areas while others focused on the needs of a city and surrounding towns. Grant awards were slightly reduced from the requested application amount in order to make awards to all eligible applicants. In 2011, some funds were unused by the grant recipients.  As a result, nearly $40,000 was added to the $750,000 available dollars for the 2012 program, for a total of nearly $790,000 awarded. Over $1 million in grant funds had been requested.

Waste collected in each category increased in 2012, resulting in the highest total amount of waste collected in the history of the program.  While the amount of waste collected each year can vary widely depending on the population of the communities using the program and frequency of the collections, the increases in 2012 can likely be attributed to the increase in the number of grants provided from 2011.  This is illustrated in Table1.

Chart 1 shows the total amount of waste collected in each of the last seven years. (Note that pharmaceutical waste was first collected in 2008.)

Agricultural and Business Waste

In 2012, 1,416 farmers and five agricultural businesses brought in 105,862 pounds of AW, an increase of 29 percent from the 2011 total of 81,703 pounds.  Another 1,088 businesses brought in 420,609 pounds of waste for a combined total of 526,470 pounds of total waste collected.  This is an increase of three percent from 2011. 

Note: In reviewing the totals from 2011, a miscalculation occurred.  Total weights for agricultural and all VSQG waste was 509,995 pounds.

Clean sweep coordinators have been targeting businesses that qualify as a “very small quantity generators” to bring in their hazardous waste.  These efforts have led to an increase in business participation in the last two years.

Most AW grant recipients are seeing declines in collected farm pesticides and farm chemical waste.  Many farmers are hiring professional pesticide applicators rather than applying products themselves.  Agricultural pesticides are also becoming more concentrated so there is often less product to apply and less to dispose, if any.  Farmers are also buying only the pesticides needed so there is less waste and less pesticides to store. Much of the old, stockpiled pesticides from years ago has been collected during the early years of the clean sweep program although collections are still seeing old, banned or cancelled pesticides like DDT and chlordane.  Table 2 shows the top five pesticides collected at agricultural clean sweeps in 2012.

The Wisconsin Agri-Business Association (formerly the Wisconsin Crop Production Association) encourages its members to work with a recycling vendor to recycle 2½ to 5 gallon pesticide containers and mini-bulks. Container Services Network works with agricultural chemical dealers to collect empty, triple-rinsed containers for recycling.  

Household Hazardous Waste

The 2012 Clean Sweep Program served more than 57,000 residents in the safe disposal of 3,160,111 pounds of household hazardous waste--an average of nearly 54 pounds per person and the highest amount ever collected in the program history.  There were four more HHW grants given in 2012 compared to 2011 with nearly 18,000 more residents participating in HW clean sweeps. 

Household hazardous waste intake continued to outpace AW intake by about a 6:1 margin. Local governments are struggling with the increased demand for the collection and disposal of HHW while disposal costs are increasing and budgets are shrinking. Some municipalities are charging a small fee to offset some of their expenses.

Unwanted Prescription Drugs​

Besides the HHW and AW grants, the department funded 25 Rx grant requests. At least 10,062 residents participated in drug collection events.  This number does not include people who used drug drop boxes so the total number of participants is likely much higher. Combined with permanent drug drop boxes, nearly 48,000 pounds (24 tons) of unwanted drugs were turned in for disposal. Within that amount of collected drugs, at least 5,000 pounds were controlled substances.  It’s not possible to determine the average pounds per participant because the number of people using the permanent drop boxes is not tracked, only the amount of drugs collected.  Two prescription drug grants were returned by local governments. One municipality was able to greatly reduce their expected cost so their grant funds were not needed.  Another county was extremely short-staffed and while a drug collection was held, the county was unable to complete a final report necessary to claim their grant funds. This also means that their collection amounts are not included in the total.

Many local law enforcement agencies participate in the federal Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) National Take Back Initiatives.  The DEA takes all the collected drugs and disposes of them at no cost to the local government. Some of these local governments also receive a grant from DATCP, so their costs are greatly reduced and their grant funds can be used toward outreach and education.

The department participates on the Wisconsin Pharmaceutical Waste Working Group, whose mission is to reduce the negative impacts of pharmaceutical waste on Wisconsin's environment and communities. Group membership includes local government, healthcare, drug, regulatory and science professionals.

Chart 2 shows the total​ pounds of waste collected in each of the programs.​

Direction for the Coming Year

The department suggested a funding alternative for the Clean Sweep grants as part of the Governor’s budget for FY14 to ensure the program is managed in the most financially responsible manner.  The suggestion is to take a one-time draw of funds from another fund within the division to support calendar year 2014 grants. The reason for this request is that currently, clean sweep grant funds are issued to local governments for a calendar year. However, the funds for those grants are not available until July 1 of the contract year. During biennial budget years, the funds to honor the existing contracts are not assured until the budget bill is finalized. This can create some uncertainty for local governments.  With the passage of the budget provision, DATCP will be assured of having grant funds on-hand before local government contracts are prepared.

Clean Sweep operates under ATCP 34 – Chemical and Container Collection.  Staff requested and received permission to open the rule for revision in 2012. The goal is to find ways to streamline the application and reporting process; cre​ate rules for the drug collection portion of the program and address inconsistencies between the program rule and state statute. Listening sessions will be held in the spring of 2013 with public hearings planned for the fall.

The federal DEA proposed rules in late 2012 could have a negative effect on our prescription drug collection grants.  One proposal would prohibit separation of controlled and non-controlled drugs.  Local law enforcement do not have the storage​ space to hold a large volume of unwanted drugs so collection boxes could be limited or removed.  The DEA is collecting comments on the rule proposal (due early 2013). It is not known when or if the rule proposal will be revised and when it might be in effect.


For more information about any of the bureau programs you may email the department.

Back to ACM Annual Report homepage​​.​​​​