2013 Bureau of Agrichemical Management Annual Report

​​​​​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 2013, 45 counties, 3 cities, 3 villages, 6 tribal nations and a sewerage district were beneficiaries of one or more types of the 24 HHW, 16 AW, and 19 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. More than $1.5 million was requested with only $750,000 available for distribution. Not all grant applications were funded in 2013. The reasoning was to provide grants with more meaningful dollar values as opposed to providing some applicants with very small grants so that everyone could receive something. An additional $19,100 of unspent 2012 grant funds were used to fund two spring events, that were not initially selected for 2013.

Total Waste Collected

Vehicles lined up at Clean SweepThe amount collected of ag waste and household waste both increased in 2013 but there was a decline in the amount of unwanted prescription drugs collected. Chart 1 shows the total pounds​ of waste collected in each of the last five years. 2010 waste totals were down because of a decrease in grant applications. Ag waste totals in this chart were revised for 2011 and 2012 to reflect only agricultural waste collected from farms and those businesses that bring in agricultural pesticides.

Also included in Chart 1 is the waste disposal by VSQG's beginning in 2011. Chart 2 shows the total pounds of waste collected under each grant type in ​2013. 

Agricultural and Business Waste

In 2013, 1,094 farmers and 11 agricultural businesses brought in slightly more than 118,000 pounds of AW, an increase of 13 percent from 2012. Another 1,106 businesses or “very small quantity generators” of hazardous waste brought in 354,000 pounds of waste for a combined total of more than 473,000 pounds. Businesses that bring in agricultural pesticides pay half of the disposal cost. The other half is subsidized by DATCP. The remaining businesses pay the full disposal cost of their hazardous waste. 

Clean sweep coordinators have been targeting VSQGs in their areas to bring in their hazardous waste. It is often less expensive for businesses to bring their hazardous waste to a clean sweep than having a waste contractor come to their business.

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. Farmers are also buying only the pesticides needed so there is less waste and fewer pesticides to store. Much of the old, stockpiled pesticides from years ago have 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 1 shows the top five pesticides collected at agricultural clean sweeps in 2013.

Table 1: Top Five AW Clean Sweep Collected Products 2013


Pounds Collected


Herbicide for broadleaf and grassy weed control
Lead/oil-based paint
Lead banned in household paint in 1977
Herbicide for broadleaf weed control
Pentachlorophenol418Industrial wood treatment and preservative
Creosote325Industrial wood treatment and preservative
The Wisconsin Agri-Business Association (formerly the Wisconsin Crop Production Association) encourages their 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 2013 Clean Sweep Program served more than 55,000 residents in the safe disposal of 2,158,000 pounds of household hazardous waste, about 39 pounds per person and nearly 5 percent more than the 2012 total. The total amount of hazardous waste does not include latex paint that is collected by some events. In 2013, nearly 705,000 pounds of latex paint was brought in.

Table 2 shows the top five hazardous wastes to household hazardous waste collections in 2013.


Pounds Collected

Lead-based/oil-based paint536,289
Contaminated waste oil/filters85,262
Aerosol cans68,750
Household hazardous waste intake continued to outpace AW intake by about a 18:1 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 19 Rx grant requests. At least 12,600 residents participated in drug collection events. This number does not include people who used drug drop boxes so the total number of participants is higher. Combined with permanent drug drop boxes, nearly 41,000 pounds (20 tons) of unwanted drugs were turned in for disposal, a decrease of nearly 18 percent. The decline could be attributed to having six fewer drug grants in 2013. Within that amount of collected drugs, at least 3,300 pounds were identified as controlled substances. It is 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. 

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. 

Direction for the Coming YearSuperhero character with kids at Clean Sweep 

A funding alternative for the Clean Sweep grants was part of the Governor’s budget for FY14. This ensured the program is managed in the most financially responsible manner. Clean Sweep grant funding come from the Environmental Fund. The budgetary provision allowed for a one-time draw of funds from the Agrichemical Management Fund to support calendar year 2014 clean sweep grants.  This eliminated the issue of not having available grant funds until the beginning of the state fiscal year on July 1 while the clean sweep grants were given to local governments on a calendar year basis. DATCP is now 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 p​rocess; create rules for the drug collection program; and address inconsistencies between the program rule and state statute. Listening sessions were held in spring 2013. Unfortunately, public hearings were not held in fall as planned, but will be held in early 2014. 

The federal DEA proposed rules in late 2012. The rules as proposed could have a negative impact on how prescription drug collections will operate and therefore, how we administer our unwanted 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 dru​​gs so collection boxes could be limited or removed. The department provided comments to DEA in February. It is not known when or if the federal 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​​.​​​