Un-rinsed and improperly stored empty pesticide containers are more than a nuisance around the farm - they can also contaminate surface and groundwater. Properly rinsing and later recycling these containers protects the environment, saves landfill space and puts the plastic to use in new products.
Farmers are encouraged to take advantage of the pesticide container recycling program coordinated by the Michigan Groundwater Stewardship Program and the Michigan Agribusiness Association. Through this program, clean, empty pesticide containers are collected, chipped and recycled into a variety of products, including new pesticide containers, truck and manure spreader deck boards, field drain tile, pallets and parking stops.
"The best way to handle the containers is to rinse them right after they are emptied so that no residue dries to the inside of the container," says Allen Krizek, Michigan State University Extension liaison to the MGSP. "The containers must be either triple rinsed or power rinsed, and any rinse water should be added to the spray tank to get the most out of the product and to keep the pesticide out of nearby waters."
Clean, empty containers should be stored in large plastic bags until fall. These bags are available from any MGSP technician. Technicians are based in local conservation district and MSU Extension offices. To find the one near you, visit www.michigan.gov/documents/Groundwater_Techs_Map_111332_7.pdf.
Rigid, high-density polyethylene crop protection containers that hold U.S. Environmental Protection Agency-registered products that are labeled for agricultural, professional turf, forestry and aquatic uses are eligible for recycling. Look for the HDPE 2 symbol on the bottom of the container. Adjuvants, crop oils and surfactant containers can also be recycled. All containers must be 2.5 gallons or smaller.
Pesticide container collections are scheduled for a number of locations across Michigan during the first two weeks of September. To find a collection site near you, contact your local conservation district or county MSU Extension office.
Animal health care, consumer home and garden, and swimming pool maintenance product containers are not eligible for recycling under this program.
To learn more about the Michigan Groundwater Stewardship Program, visit www.michigan.gov and search for Michigan Groundwater Stewardship Program.