A scheme which will see farm hazardous waste collected from designated drop-off points nationwide is expected to be operational by 2024, should the timeframe set out in the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) National Hazardous Waste Management Plan for 2021-2027 be followed.

The scheme will see the collection of potentially hazardous materials, such as empty pesticide containers, veterinary medicine waste and used oil, from centres scattered throughout the country.

The EPA’s waste management plan estimated that there is in the region of 7,378t of hazardous wastes, excluding used batteries and electronic goods, currently stockpiled on farms.

The scheme will be overseen by the Department of Agriculture and the Department of the Environment, with discussions on the establishment of the scheme expected to commence in the first half of this year.

Pilot project

The farm waste collection initiative piloted over 2014-2017 will form the basis of the scheme.

This pilot project saw more than 1,000t of hazardous farm waste from collected, with over 9,000 farmers availing of the drop-off service across the 46 one-day collection points provided to farmers.

The scheme found that the “corroded condition” of pesticide and veterinary medicine containers had posed particular concerns from “health, safety and environmental” points of view.

Some 68t of pesticide wastes, 53t of veterinary wastes and 481t of waste mechanical oils were brought by farmers to the drop-off points.

Over the pilot project, one elderly farmer presented enough cyanide, which was once used to control rabbits, to a Roscommon collection centre to “wipe out most of the county”.

Sheep dip

The Department of Agriculture and the Department of the Environment are also to establish a “forum on the management of spent sheep dip”, as recommended by the EPA report.

Spent sheep dip has been identified by the EPA as having “significant toxic impacts” on river ecosystems in areas where the practice of dipping is widespread.

Co Donegal had been mentioned in the report as one such area where the disposal of used dip and sheep footbath solutions required improvement.

The EPA had advised that the relevant departments commence discussions by the end of March this year on the sheep dip forum, but a spokesperson from the Department of the Environment told the Irish Farmers Journal that “progress” was not expected until after this time.