Nebraska's pesticide container recycling program in its 27th year

Pesticide Collection Sites
Four Nebraska pesticide container recycling sites are open May-August, while several sites are open year-round. Other sites are open by appointment or specific dates.

April 18, 2018

Lincoln, Neb. — When dropping off your clean agricultural pesticide containers for recycling at one of Nebraska’s 18 participating recycling collection sites, you can feel good knowing the containers will be recycled into useful products that stay in the U.S.

Pesticide Container Rinse
Employees at Country Partners Co-op in Lexington triple rinse the co-op’s pesticide containers to recycle. The co-op is one of 18 sites across the state to accept containers this year.

Now in its 27th year, the recycling program encourages producers to bring clean, dry, intact containers to a nearby collection site. Clyde Ogg, coordinator of Nebraska Extension’s Pesticide Safety Education Program, notes there is no charge to producers. They must, however, triple- or pressure-rinse containers and drain them before dropping them off (see sidebar). Containers will be collected, ground up and reused in industry-approved products such as drain tile, underground utility conduit, pallets, landscape edging and nursery pots.

At Lexington’s Country Partners Co-op, regional sales agronomist Michael Voss credits producers for bringing in clean containers for recycling.

“Once producers know what we need, they comply,” Voss said. “I definitely think recycling is the best alternative for the jugs. You can’t reuse them for anything else, so they may as well be used for something useful.” Before being recycled, containers often were burned.

At collection sites, clean jugs are bagged and temporarily stored, often inside truck trailers. In the Midwest, G. Phillips & Sons (GPS) transports the jugs to Iowa City, Iowa. The family-owned company based in Stanwood, Iowa, processes nearly 500,000 pounds of scrap plastic per day.

Using stringent standards, GPS makes pallets for seed and ag chemicals produced in the U.S., said Stacey Bruinsma, GPS procurement manager. No GPS recycled plastic is exported, she added, so it doesn’t end up manufacturing something like children’s toys. 

Pesticide Container Storage
Lexington Country Partners Co-op employee Ozzie Romero, Sr. stores clean, dry pesticide containers in a trailer until they are collected, ground and re-used in industry-approved products.

It takes 24, 2.5 gallon jugs, with other plastics blended in, to make one 40x48-inch pallet, Bruinsma said, noting pallets last years and can be recycled again.

The Virginia-based Ag Container Recycling Council (ACRC) contracts with GPS and oversees the national pesticide container recycling effort for its 44 member states.

ACRC Executive Director Mark Hudson said in 2017 Nebraska collected nearly 89,900 pounds of containers, approximately 28,000 pounds more than in 2016. 

Nationally, ACRC contractors again collected 11 million pounds of containers last year. ACRC programming is funded by crop protection product manufacturers and distributors. 

Nebraska this year has four locations open May-August, while several sites are open year-round. Other sites are open by appointment or specific dates. 

To see additional sites that may be added, a container preparation checklist and more, seehttp://pested.unl.edu/recycling.

 

County Collection Sites

YEAR-ROUND

  • Buffalo: Kearney Recycling Center, Kearney, Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Cass: Wiles Bros. Fertilizer, Plattsmouth, call 402-298-8550 to schedule, accepts drums
  • Cuming: West Point Transfer Station, West Point, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Saturday 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., accepts drums
  • Dawson: Country Partners Cooperative, Lexington, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., accepts drums
  • Lincoln: ABC Recycling, North Platte, Monday through Friday 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; Saturday by appointment, accepts drums
  • Sarpy: Farmers Union Coop, Gretna, call 402-332-3315
  • Scotts Bluff: Gering Landfill, Gering, Monday through Friday, 6:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., accepts drums
  • Thurston: Papio MRNRD Shed, Walthill, Fridays only, accepts drums

MAY-AUGUST

  • Antelope: Central Valley Ag, Royal, accepts drums
  • Dawes: Solid Waste Association of Northwest Nebraska, Chadron, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., accepts drums
  • Kearney: Cooperative Producers Inc., Minden, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Saunders: Reids Farmacy, Ashland, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., accepts drums

OPEN SPECIFIC DAYS

  • Dakota: Central Valley Ag, South Sioux City, June and July, Wednesdays, 11 a.m. to noon, accepts drums
  • Lancaster: Midwest Farmers Co-op, Waverly, June 15, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Otoe: Midwest Farmers Co-op, Nebraska City, July 23-27, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., accepts drums 

BY APPOINTMENT

  • Burt: Tekamah Transfer Station, Tekamah, year-round, by appointment, 402-374-1255
  • Custer: Custer County Recycling, Broken Bow, Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., by appointment, 308-870-0313, accepts drums
  • Lincoln: North Platte Transfer Station, year-round, by appointment, 308-535-6700, accepts drums

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How-to for Rinsing Pesticide Containers

Nebraska’s pesticide container recycling program accepts 1- and 2.5-gallon plastic agricultural pesticide or crop oil containers; in some locations, 15-, 30- or 55-gallon drums are accepted.

Containers must be pressure- or triple-rinsed and drained. Rinsate must be returned to the spray tank and used appropriately, said Clyde Ogg, extension educator and Nebraska PSEP coordinator.

Remove and throw away any labels, booklets and slipcover plastic labels on the containers. Glued paper labels may be left on, and container caps should be rinsed off before disposing. Before being accepted, containers are thoroughly inspected.

Properly rinsing pesticide containers saves money, protects you and the environment, and meets federal and state regulations for pesticide use, Ogg said.

Saves money: It’s very easy to leave 6 or more ounces of pesticide in a 2.5 gallon container, or about 2 percent. Not rinsing means you basically throw product away then, or later when product left in the container gets sticky and difficult to remove.

Apply rinsate immediately to the load and spray on a labeled site; never dispose of it on the ground, in water or any other nonlabeled area.

Protect yourself: Follow these six steps for proper container rinsing:

  1. Wear the same PPE (personal protective equipment) while rinsing containers as the label requires for handling and mixing. This may include a heavy-duty apron and goggles, in addition to the standard long-sleeved shirt, long pants, socks, and liquid-resistant gloves and shoes. Most pesticide poisoning occurs when product gets absorbed by the skin and into the blood.
  2. Remove container cap, empty all pesticide into the spray tank. Allow container to drain for 30 seconds, then rinse immediately, before product becomes sticky and hard to remove.
  3. Fill container 10-20 percent full of water or rinse solution; replace cap.
  4. Swirl liquid within container to rinse all inside surfaces. Remove cap and pour rinsate into the spray tank, again allowing container to drain for 30 seconds.
  5. Repeat previous steps two more times, for a total of three times.
  6. Puncture container so it cannot be reused.

Never store unused pesticide in any container other than the one it came in.

For easy-to-follow instructions on triple-rinsing drums and pressure-rinsing, see G1736, “Rinsing Pesticide Containers,” http://extensionpubs.unl.edu/publication/9000016364796/rinsing-pesticide-containers/


Clyde Ogg
Director
Pesticide Safety Eduction Program
402-472-1632

Writer: Cheryl Alberts, program coordinator
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