Cost of safer packaging

Bruce Williams, CGCS, immediate past president, Golf Course Superintendents Association of America (GCSAA)

Improvements in formulations and packaging mean not only increased safety for the applicator mixing these materials, but safety for the environment as well. Studies have shown that the greatest risk for pesticide exposure comes at the mixing and loading stage when materials are handled from full-strength containers. Packaging, such as lock-and-load containers, water-soluble packets and no-glug containers, which greatly reduce or eliminate those risks of exposure, are certainly a step in the right direction.

Safety is not just a slogan at GCSAA. The GCSAA Foundation, with help from a grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, is currently funding the Safety Awareness Program. The goal of this program is to identify and put into proper perspective where the greatest risks are in maintaining golf courses. Once identified, we want to be sure that we have the educational programs in place to help minimize those risks to our members and non-member colleagues alike. Safety-oriented pesticide packaging is very consistent with this program.

New formulations that can help reduce the risk to the environment are also very important. In fact, the environment is one of GCSAA's mandates. The GCSAA Foundation has funded the Golf Course Water Quality Study, which is designed to summarize the quality of ground and surface water of about 50 golf courses around the country. We want to know the facts concerning golf courses and water quality. Improvements in formulations that may help safeguard the environment and our nation's water supplies are in everyone's best interest.

Terry Kurth, president, Professional Lawn Care Association of America (PLCAA)

PLCAA agrees with the emphasis toward new pesticide packaging, which goes hand in hand with the major emphasis on IPM and industry stewardship that the industry is experiencing today. PLCAA encourages IPM and environmentally responsible practices through its draft EPA Pesticide Environmental Stewardship Program.

Industry has been adding the use of mini-bulk tanks and injection systems to meet increased employee safety requirements and as a way to limit disposal of containers and leftover spray material. The industry should be willing to pay more for the added safety of newer packaging and lower toxicity products. But manufacturers need to remember that product cost must be kept as low as possible for lawn and landscape service providers to maintain a profit and to make sure any new products have the same or better effect on target pests. Ultimately, of course, customers decide whether these products and services are used depending on the price they're willing to pay. And it is up to the green industry to continue educating customers about the choices.

Change and new technology are inevitable in our industry. We can't put our heads in the sand; we must prepare for the challenges of the future today. In a service-based economy, the lawn and landscape industry has a bright future. Our job is to be innovative enough to supply our services in a way to remain competitive and profitable while maintaining the highest degree of protection and safety. This can be achieved with new packaging techniques and lower toxicity products.

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