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Recycle Pesticide Containers

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Written Wednesday, April 12, 2000  

The tractor is tuned up, planter adjustments set, and seed and chemicals purchased, but you still aren't sure how you're going to get rid of the empty pesticide containers that you can't legally reuse.

Ohio State Extension works with the Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) and local farm supply dealers to provide a pesticide container recycling program with drop-off centers in 38 Ohio counties.

In Indiana, the Office of the State Chemist works with Purdue Extension providing 19 recycling sites that accept rinsed containers from Aug. 1 through Sept. 6.

In addition to keeping the pesticide containers out of local landfills, recycling old containers keeps them from being reused to store things around the farm, which is dangerous, says ODA environmental specialist Larry Berger.

"We also don't want them buried or burned because residues can still get into the ground that way," Berger says.

Before recycling, rinse containers well, Berger says. "You need to rinse the containers right after emptying them out, before the chemical residue dries up inside of them, because after that, it's harder to get the residue out."

Wash containers with a pressure hose or by triple-rinsing to remove all pesticide residue, dirt or mud from the inside and outside. Be sure to clean the spout and threads. Be sure the run-off rinse water goes into the spray tank with the rest of the pesticide to be sprayed and not onto the ground.

Recycling centers will accept only clean, empty, dry containers. Do not include caps. Stained containers will be accepted if they are residue-free. Remove labels if possible. Stuck labels will be accepted.

"We do a visual inspection," Berger says. "So when we say containers should be clean, they should be visibly clean."

The Ohio program recycled 45,000 pounds of plastic containers last year, while Indiana recycled 58,250 pounds. Both states have seen the volume of containers drop due to the increased use of bulk product, particularly in preplant herbicides.

Containers in both states are shredded and recycled into products such as shipping pallets, fence posts, flower pots and tile drains.

Locations and operating hours of container drop-off points in Ohio vary by county and season. Some are open year-round, others are open for just a few weeks, or just one day a year. Find the nearest location by contacting county Extension offices or your solid waste district.

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