Wisconsin Clean Sweep offers grants to local governments to collect and dispose 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 families, 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.
In 2014, 50 counties, 5 cities, 6 villages, 6 tribal nations and a sewerage district received one or more of the 31 HHW, 22 AW, and 28 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 $1.4 million was requested with only $750,000 available for distribution. All grant applications deemed eligible were funded. An additional $13,200 of unspent 2013 grant dollars was redistributed among the household hazardous waste collections.
Total Waste Collected: The amount of agricultural waste and unwanted prescription drugs collected through Clean Sweeps both increased in 2014, but the amount of household waste collected declined.
Chart 1 shows the total pounds of waste collected in each of the last five years. Waste totals in 2010 were down because funding uncertainty led to a decrease in grants awarded. Ag waste totals reflect only agricultural waste collected from farms and those businesses that bring in agricultural pesticides.
Chart 2 shows the total pounds of waste collected under each grant type in 2014.
Since the program began in the early 1990s, grant recipients have collected approximately 3.5 million pounds of agricultural pesticides and farm chemical waste; 20 million pounds of household hazardous waste (which was added to Clean Sweep in 2003) and 240,000 pounds of unwanted prescription drugs (which was added in 2008).
Agricultural and Business Waste: Nine agricultural businesses a nd 1,141 farmers brought in nearly 130,000 pounds of AW in 2014, a 9 percent increase from 2013. The increase can likely be attributed to 47 more farmers participating in 2014 Clean Sweeps. While there were two fewer businesses bringing in unwanted agricultural pesticides, the amount of those agricultural pesticides increased almost 60 percent. Businesses that bring in agricultural pesticides pay half of the disposal cost and DATCP pays the other half. The weight of the agricultural pesticides brought in by these particular businesses is included in the total agricultural waste collected. In 2014, 4,370 pounds of agricultural pesticides were covered by the disposal subsidy, up from 2,546 pounds in 2013.
Another 1,135 VSQGs brought in nearly 338,000 pounds of hazardous waste. These VSQG businesses pay the full disposal cost of 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 the business.
The amount of agricultural waste collected over the past three years is down from 2010 and 2011. Some AW grant recipients are seeing declines in collected farm pesticides and farm chemical waste for several reasons. 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 of. Farmers are also buying only the pesticides needed to reduce waste and stored pesticides. According to surveys taken during the collections, many of the agricultural pesticides are found when an older relative leaves the farm or the farm transfers to new owners. The Clean Sweep collections are still taking in old, banned or cancelled pesticides such as DDT, lindane and chlordane. Table 1 shows the top five pesticides collected at agricultural Clean Sweeps in 2014.
Each Clean Sweep collection offers the chance for some unusual item to be brought in, and 2014 was no exception. One collection site received nearly 1,800 pounds of lead arsenate that had been stored for about 40 years. Because it was an agricultural pesticide, DATCP paid for half of the $3,500 disposal cost.
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 2014 Clean Sweep Program served nearly 60,000 residents in the safe disposal of 2.037 million pounds of household hazardous waste, about 34 pounds per person. Compared to 2013, the number of Clean Sweep participants increased by nearly 5,000, but collected waste was down about 6 percent. “Reduce, reuse, recycle” strategies are offered by nearly every Clean Sweep collection, and this may be a positive sign that the public is heeding this advice or may be purchasing less hazardous products. Clean Sweeps are also offering product exchange programs where usable products are set out and taken by those who can use them. The total amount of hazardous waste does not include latex paint that is collected by some events. Latex paint is not a hazardous substance, but collection data is gathered through the Clean Sweep program because so many participants bring it to the Clean Sweep sites. Some municipalities believe that if they accept latex paint, the public will bring in additional hazardous materials. Other municipalities will not accept the paint because of disposal costs, while others charge a per-can fee to recoup some of the disposal cost. In 2014, more than 1.1 million pounds of latex paint was brought in to Clean Sweep sites.
Table 2 shows the top 5 hazardous wastes brought to household hazardous waste collections in 2014. Compared to 2013, pesticides/poisons and solvents/thinners changed places in the rankings.
Household hazardous waste intake continued to outpace AW intake by about a 16:1 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: In addition to the HHW and AW grants, the department funded 28 Rx grant requests. Estimating the number of Rx participants is very difficult. Because so many municipalities have drug drop boxes and are moving away from collection events, there is no way to know how many people are using the drug collection option. However, we can safely say that the demand for the drug collection programs, whether a receptacle in the police department or a collection event, is increasing. The amount of collected unwanted prescription drugs and inhalers jumped from 41,000 pounds in 2013 to more than 61,000 pounds in 2014. Some of the weight can be attributed to packaging as not every collection separates all the drugs. It’s also difficult to determine how much of that total weight is controlled substances. Some collections do not separate the drugs into controlled versus non-controlled, instead combining all drugs and handling them 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.
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. It is important to note that many of the drugs collected through Clean Sweep events are also counted in the DEA collection total. 2014 was the last year for the no-cost DEA disposal option, so the Clean Sweep program may have even higher demand for Rx grants in the future.
The department participates in the Wisconsin Pharmaceutical Waste Working Group, whose mission is to reduce the harm that pharmaceutical waste causes to Wisconsin's environment and communities. Group membership includes local government, healthcare, drug, regulatory and science professionals.
Direction for the Coming Year
Clean Sweep operates under ch. ATCP 34 – Chemical and Container Collection--Wis. Adm. Code. Staff opened the rule for revision in 2012 to find ways to streamline the application and reporting process, create rules for the drug collection portion of the program, and address inconsistencies between the program rule and state statute. Listening sessions were held in the spring of 2013 and three public hearings were held in early 2014. Based on comments received, some changes were made to the rule draft. The final rule draft was presented to the DATCP Board in November and was then submitted to the Governor’s Office for approval. In 2015, the rule went to the legislature for review. The rule will be finalized and take effect sometime in 2015, in time for the 2016 Clean Sweep grant application process.
In early September, 2014, the federal DEA published its final rule on the collection and disposal of prescription drugs. While the revised rule allows for other groups like pharmacies and long-term care facilities to operate a drug take back program, the DEA eliminated its national drug take-back program. Many of Wisconsin Clean Sweeps and law enforcement agencies relied on the DEA for their no-cost drug disposal. Since the announcement, the Clean Sweep program has received many phone calls wondering about disposal options and how to pay for the cost. Some law enforcement agencies have chosen to remove their drug drop boxes, because they no longer have a way to pay for disposal. The program specialist worked with other members of the Pharmaceutical Waste Working group to find some solutions and we recently learned that the Wisconsin Department of Justice will be continuing no-cost Rx disposals in 2015 and hopefully into the future.
For more information about any of the bureau programs you may email the department.
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