Fall Agricultural Plastic Recycle Event

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Fall Agricultural Plastic Recycle Event

Tito

By Tony Linegar

Our office will hold another plastic pesticide container recycle event this fall. The event will be held Wednesday, October 29, 2014 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The collection site will be the Sonoma County Healdsburg Corporation Yard, which is located on Alexander Valley Road in Healdsburg.  Directions: from Highway 101, take the Lytton Springs exit, turn right on Healdsburg Avenue and then turn left on Alexander Valley Road. The corporation yard is on the left, approximately 0.1 mile. This site is across the street from the Healdsburg Transfer Station.

This event is open to growers, nurseries, pest control businesses, golf courses, parks and government agencies. Plastic containers ranging in size from one pint to 55 gallons will be accepted. Containers must be:

  • Triple rinsed, punctured and dry
  • The plastic lids and caps must be removed.
  • All label booklets and plastic sleeves must be removed from containers before recycling. Glued labels are ok.
  • Containers in size from 15 gallons to 55 gallons must be cut into quarters before bringing to the recycle event.
  • Five gallon buckets must have metal handles removed.
  • Please, no PVC pipe, plastic tubing, metal containers or containers that have held motor oil.

Vineyard and Orchard Development Season Wrap-Up

2014 has been another busy year for vineyard and orchard development projects in Sonoma County. The Agricultural Commissioner’s Office has received well over 100 VESCO (Vineyard Erosion and Sediment Control Ordinance) permit applications as of early September. This means that vineyard and orchard owners and managers have responded well to the requirement for a third-party biological assessment of the project area prior to VESCO application submittal. Please be sure to incorporate the recommendations of the biologist into your vineyard plans. 

Reminder: Now that fall is upon us, we are quickly approaching the end of construction season for vineyard and orchard development projects in Sonoma County. This means that soil disturbance for these projects must be wrapping up soon and winterization best management practices must be applied. Winterization of sites must be completed by October 15th for new vineyard or orchard development projects or November 15th for replanting projects. Winterization per VESCO standards requires all cover crops for new plantings be seeded in time so that they are established by these dates. If you cannot seed your cover crop by mid-September and irrigate the seed, you may plant your seed in October and cover it with straw mulch at the rate of two tons per acre. If drainage structures were part of your project design, work on these must be completed as well. Please remember, even if dry weather is persisting, construction work must end and winterization measures must be in place by the above mentioned dates.

Once winterization work is completed on Level 2 projects, the site needs to be inspected by the Agricultural Commissioner’s Office staff to verify that each project’s engineering plans have been followed and that the standards of the Grading, Drainage and Vineyard/Orchard Site Development Ordinance and BMPs (Best Management Practices) have been met. To schedule your inspection, please call us at 707-565-2371 as soon as your site is winterized. 
 
We’re all hoping for a wet winter so we need to be ready.

Labeling Requirements for Retail Packaged Goods

As more and more local agricultural producers and manufacturers are packaging and selling their products to the public, it’s important to know about the labeling requirements. Three of the most important packaging and labeling requirements are commonly referred to as the product’s “IRQ” statement. IRQ stands for “Identity, Responsibility and Quantity.” These three pieces of information need to be clearly marked on packaged products sold at the retail level, including local packaged produce and local food products. These requirements are part of the Federal Fair Packaging and Labeling Act and California’s Business and Professions Code, which gives local enforcement authority to the County Sealer of Weights and Measures. In support of promoting the direct marketing of fresh fruits, nuts, and vegetables, there is an exemption for open containers containing these items when sold at an officially certified farmers’ market or at a stand at or near the place of production.

The “identity statement” is important to consumers because not all products have clear and “see-through” packaging. The most direct way to inform consumers about what is in the package is to require manufacturers of the product to clearly label the contents of the product.  The identity of the product must be labeled in commonly accepted term such as “facial tissue”, not “Kleenex”. Kleenex is the name of a brand and is not considered an accurate identifying description of the product.

The purpose of a “responsibility statement” is to clearly identify on the product the name of the company (commonly referred to as the “packer”) along with a physical address. This is important from a food safety perspective by providing public health and safety agencies the ability to quickly identify and communicate with the manufacturer of a product in the event of food safety concerns. A packer is allowed to include only the city and zip code as part of the responsibility statement, but only if the company is listed in a local phone directory of that city. Lacking this, the packer’s full address must be identified on the commodities. Current law does not allow companies to substitute their internet web address as the packers address, but it may be added with the information above.   

The “quantity statement” is important for the consumer because it allows them the ability to compare values between two products. Not only are manufacturers required to properly label their products with quantity statements (commonly referred to as “net content”), but they must do so in the appropriate units of measure for the specific commodity in question.  This must be done in both U.S. customary units and metric units.  Products in the form of liquids must use liquid units of measure such as fluid ounces, pints, quarts or gallons (liter in metric units). Products in a solid state are required to be measured in units of mass such as the ounce or pound (gram or kilogram in metric units). Semi-viscous products such as mustard or ketchup may be labeled in either liquid or mass units of measures. Generally there is an agreed upon unit of measure used by the industry of that particular product.

The IRQ requirements must also adhere to type-size standards as well as standards for the placement of the information on specific areas of the package’s container. Each product container has a “principle display” area that is best suited to display this information to a typical shopper.  This area must be used by the manufacturer to display the IRQ information. In the example of a jar of spaghetti sauce, the principle display panel is 40 percent of the jars front facing “package area”.  Placing the IRQ information in areas other than the principle display area, such as the bottom or back of the package, is prohibited.

Weights and Measures Inspectors routinely inspect products found for sale in local businesses and can order products “off-sale” if they are not properly labeled. Manufacturers are notified of any infractions that need to be corrected before their products are allowed back on local store shelves. We understand that packaging and labeling can be costly, so if you have any questions or need help on how to properly label your products, please call our office at (707) 565-2371. Ask to speak to a Weights and Measures Inspector about labeling and packaging requirements.  It is a good idea to run your new label by our Weights and Measures staff before you spend money printing hundreds of copies. You can also find more information on the topic on our website under the Quantity Control Program page at: http://sonoma-county.org/agcomm/weights_measures/

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