Turf & Rec

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Stewardship organization helps golf courses to recycle their empty pesticide containers


October 6, 2011
By Mike Jiggens


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Businesses of all types are increasingly being scrutinized for their impact on the environment. Golf courses are no different.

Golfers and community residents alike want to know that these expansive green spaces are being managed in a way that is good for the environment and local wildlife. And governments have started stepping in to regulate golf course operations, including things like pesticide use.

The fact of the matter is that most golf course operators take great pride in managing their courses in an environmentally responsible way. They want to do the right thing, but, like any other business, they are faced with competing pressures for their time and resources.

One easy way for golf courses to demonstrate their environmental responsibility is to recycle their empty pesticide containers.

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“This is a no-cost, easy way to protect the environment and ensure the safety of staff and clients,” says Barry Friesen, general manager of CleanFARMS, an industry-led non-profit stewardship organization that operates a national empty pesticide container recycling program.

Pesticides are an important part of a golf course maintenance crew’s toolkit. But it’s important that empty pesticide containers be properly cleaned and recycled, not reused or disposed of in landfills.
Containers can be dropped off at one of about 1,000 locations from coast to coast, or in some cases, retailers will pick up empty containers from golf courses.

While the ban on the use of cosmetic pesticides in Ontario allows golf courses to continue responsibly using pesticides within certain guidelines, it requires that all golf courses prepare an annual report on their annual pesticide usage. As part of this, they must hold a public meeting on the contents of this report.

“Members of the public and officials who attend these annual meetings and read the report would be pleased to hear that golf courses are taking the necessary steps to recycle their empty pesticide containers,” Friesen said. “It’s an easy way for owners to show their commitment to protecting the environment.”

So far, Ontario is the only province where golf courses are required to present their pesticide usage publicly, but other provinces may soon choose to follow suit. And stricter regulations governing golf course operations as they relate to the environment may not be too far down the line.

“Whether golf courses are required to report on their environmental commitments or not, we know that they want to be proactive in doing the right thing,” Friesen said. “Our program helps them do just that.”

This program is free, but CleanFARMS does ask that people do their part to ensure containers can be properly and safely recycled. Containers must be triple or pressure rinsed.

This ensures that all of the product gets used; it avoids spills or drips when the container is being transported; and it allows CleanFARMS to recycle the containers into valuable new products such as farm drainage tile. And in some regions, triple rinsing is a legal requirement.

CleanFARMS also asks that the booklet and cap be removed (the label can stay on). This again ensures that the plastic can be properly recycled.

In 2010 alone, more than 4.5 million empty pesticide containers were collected across the country. This is a considerable number, and the resulting environmental savings are significant.

To learn more about where to recycle their empty containers, golf course operators can speak with their input retailers or visit the CleanFARMS website at www.cleanfarms.ca.