Recycle Your Empty Pesticide Containers — For Free!

Feb 21, 2017
By Steve Tomasko
Pesticide containers are recycled in many products including the corrugated agricultural drain pipe above. Other approved products include highway sign posts, agricultural fence posts, underground utility conduit, industrial pallets and more.
Every year farms, coops, lawn care, structural pest control operators and other businesses purchase and empty millions of plastic containers containing pesticides. A large percentage of those empty containers end up in landfills. But there’s a better option: most containers can be recycled into other useful products, and for many businesses, recycling won’t cost a dime.
The Ag Container Recycling Council (ACRC)—an industry funded not-for-profit organization— funds and administers used pesticide container recycling programs across the United States. In 2015, ACRC through its contractors collected and recycled over 10 million pounds of used pesticide containers.
What Can You Recycle?
Farms and companies can recycle #2 rigid high density polyethylene (HDPE) containers up to 55 gallons in size that held products used in the following markets:
Crop Protection: Containers that held EPA-registered crop protection products labeled for agricultural uses. Adjuvant, crop oil and surfactant containers also eligible for recycling.
Specialty Pesticides and Fertilizers: Containers that held EPA-registered products labeled for professional structural pest control, animal health, turf, nursery, greenhouse, forestry, and aquatics are eligible for recycling.
Not Acceptable: Containers that originally held consumer products, or home and garden pesticides cannot be recycled through this program.
Rinse, Rinse, Rinse!
You MUST rinse containers of all residues after use. Only dry, residue-free rinsed containers are accepted at collection sites. You must triple-rinse your containers or use a jet spray to make sure they are clean and residue-free. Why is rinsing important?
  • It’s required by law.
  • It gives you a return on your investment (you use all of the product in the container).
  • Properly rinsed containers are classified as clean, solid waste.
How do you make sure your containers are properly rinsed? Read the product label and follow the procedures for rinsing containers (jugs and drums).
Where Do I Recycle my Containers?
The ACRC contracts out its recycling work to different contractors around the country. For the Midwest, that company is G. Phillips & Sons, LLC. You can schedule a pickup of your clean, empty containers by calling the company at 563-942-0391. They will pick up containers at both farms and other businesses.
G. Phillips & Sons company contact for Wisconsin, Stacey Bruinsma, says it’s best to call and find out if there is a collection site on the route scheduled. If not, they can set up a location for you to meet their truck somewhere. Note that there is a minimum pick up of 1,500 pounds for free pickup. If under this weight, there is usually a fee associated for the cost of trucking/labor to pick up material.
Recycling your used pesticide containers helps to keep millions of pounds of plastic from simply taking up space in a landfill and being turned into useful products. What’s not to like about that?
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