Last chance for your free DDT Muster


(Posted on: October 9)

It is believed that banned pesticides can still be found on farms across New Zealand, with people either unaware what they are, unsure how to safely dispose of them, or unwilling to pay for commercial disposal

Farmers are being urged to check sheds and chemical stores for DDT or other banned pesticides as The Great DDT Muster does a final sweep of the country.

Funding for this free collection and disposal service for persistent organic pesticides (POPs) is coming to an end but the company responsible for the service, 3R Group Ltd, believes there is still more out there.

3R’s ChemCollect manager, Jason Richards, says they’ve been running rural chemical collections for a number of years but knew that farmers weren’t having DDT and other POPs picked up simply because it was too expensive.

“These particular chemicals are sent to France for safe disposal at approved facilities so it’s not a cheap process. We knew that the government had an obligation under the Stockholm Convention to clear New Zealand of POPs, so we applied for financial support from the Waste Minimisation Fund, which is administered by the Ministry for the Environment. 

“Two years and 10,000 kg later, we’re coming to the end of that funding but we know POPs are still out there.  If farmers think they might have DDT or anything similar in their sheds, we’d really encourage them to book free collection and disposal with us before the end of October. It might be their last chance.”

Richards says so far collections under The Great DDT Muster have varied from small canisters of DDT powder which were originally supplied with new vacuum cleaners, through to entire pallet loads of pesticide, weighing up to 1 tonne.

“It’s not that people are willfully holding on to the chemicals; it’s just that they are either unaware of what they’ve got, unsure how to safely dispose of them, or unwilling to pay for commercial disposal.

“If left unresolved, the potential for harm is high, particularly as much of the original packaging is now deteriorating.”

POPs were used in many insecticide and sheep dip products sold in New Zealand from the 1940’s to the 1970’s, before being replaced by safer alternatives and finally banned in 2004.  DDT was the most common chemical compound but there are about a dozen in total including Lindane, Aldrin, Dieldrin, and Chlordane. 

“Farmers may recognise brands such as Young’s Sheep Dip, Cooper’s Louse Powder, or Cleanso but if in doubt they can check the website for a more comprehensive list and an image gallery to help them recognise these banned pesticides,” says Richards.

POPs, once used widely on farms and in homes around the world, were banned due to their negative effects on human health and the environment. They are known hormone disruptors, able to alter the normal function of endocrine and reproductive systems in humans and wildlife. They are also bio-accumulative, building up in the tissue of living things, and can be passed between species through the food chain or from mother to baby.

“They’ve been linked to cardiovascular disease, cancer, obesity and diabetes and exposure during pregnancy has also been linked to developmental defects, so they’re not products you want sitting round in your farm shed,” says Richards. “We recommend people leave them where they are but ring us or book them for disposal via the website.”

More information on POPs and how to register for free collection can be found at www.thegreatDDTmuster.co.nz or by calling 0508 CHEMICAL (0508 374 768). Bookings must be made by end of October and collections will take place over the following two months. 

“This is the last chance for free collection, so we urge farmers not to delay.”