The new EPA Pesticide Container Rule has generated renewed interest in recycling.
While reusable mini-bulk pesticide containers have been used extremely successfully in the U.S. agricultural industry, there are potential hazards. With an anticipated life span of five to seven years, old containers eventually present an exposure risk as the HDPE plastic begins to deteriorate, increasing the chance of leakage.
In an effort to mitigate that risk, Agriculture.com is reporting that starting August 16, 2011, EPA's Pesticide Container and Containment Rule will go into effect, changing the legal use and repackaging of many plastic pesticide containers. There are a number of resources related to the pesticide container recycling initiative.
A number of regional and statewide recycling programs have been developed to safely remove non-compliant and unwanted packaging that accumulate behind barns and warehouses. According to Martin Fitzpatrick of BASF Crop Protection, the initiative may cost $5 million to recycle obsolete containers, and another $20 million for replacement.
In one program developed by the Iowa State University Extension and partners, a provider provides on-site shredding of 85-350 gallon stand-alone or caged pesticide mini-bulk tanks. The charge to dealers and growers is a $15 recycling fee per container.
"The goal is to prevent spillage and minimize hazards for workers, and to eliminate any contamination from waste," said Ken Root, Recycling Coordinator for Agri-business Association of Iowa. Iowa has recycled more than five million pounds of plastic from pesticide containers since 1990. In 2000, A pilot program retrieved 2,000 unwanted containers in 2000, and in 2010, 1,500 were turned in. It is estimated that there are still 10,000 empty containers in Iowa alone that need to be recovered. The Ag Container Recycling Council (ACRC) collects over eight million pounds of HDPE plastic from pesticide containers each year. See more resources about pesticide container recycling.