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Winter 2002


New life for old containers
By Daryl Starr and Terri Lawton

 

Image: Pesticide recycling program
Indiana's annual pesticide recycling program made stops at 17 locations around the state last year. Farmers brought nearly 47,000 pesticide containers--nearly 35,000 pounds of plastic diverted from landfills that can be put to productive uses.

Image: decorative fencing made of recycled pesticide containers
Plastic pesticide containers are recycled into decorative fencing, park benches and pallets.

After applying pesticides to fields, farmers often are left with a lot of empty containers. Most of the plastic jugs end up in landfills.

"Some farmers just throw the jugs out behind the barn," according to Cedric Durkes, Purdue Extension educator in Benton County.

As a result, residual product within the containers can leak into groundwater, causing environmental damage, says Durkes. The plastic jugs are not biodegradable either. Durkes is one of several Extension educators across Indiana working to put the old containers to a new use. Purdue Extension, Indiana Farm Bureau Inc., Indiana Plant Food & Ag Chemical Association and Office of the Indiana State Chemist sponsor a pesticide container recycling program each year.

"The purpose of the collection is to give farmers an outlet for the containers that they have collected during the season," says Kevin Neal, Indiana pesticide container recycling director.

From late July to early September nearly 47,000 containers were collected at 17 locations throughout the state. This adds up to almost 35,000 pounds of plastic diverted from landfills and into productive uses.

The number of containers recycled was down by some 20,000 containers from last year. Neal believes increasing the number of custom applicators/agricultural dealers who participate in the program could significantly increase the volume of recycling.

Containers are taken to St. Louis and recycled into fence posts, park benches and pallets, then sold to the public.

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