Extension Ag Update
May/June 2003
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Recycling Pesticide Containers

Mark Mohr, Ext. Spec., Dept of Ag. Eng., Univ. of Illinois, 217-333-9418, mmohr@uiuc.edu

Is your chemical shed cluttered with empty triple-rinsed chemical jugs? If you are wondering what to do with them, recycle them! Plastic from pesticide containers can be recycled into a number of products including pallets, new pesticide containers, fuel for cement kilns, fence posts, roadside signposts, guardrails, drainage tile, sewage tile and hazardous waste drums.

Only clean containers can be recycled. A container must be rinsed, clean, and dry. For your safety, the safety of those who work with the recycling process, and the safety of the consumer of the recycled product, follow the checklist below. If not rinsed and clean, your containers won't be accepted.

  • Protection: Always wear protective clothing while rinsing containers.
  • Empty: Completely empty the pesticide container.
  • Clean: Triple-rinse or pressure-rinse the container immediately after use to prevent drying or caking of formulation residues.
  • Inspect: Inspect the container inside and around the spout threads to ensure that it is free of formulation residues. Clean but stained (for example, due to Treflan) containers are acceptable.
  • Remove: Discard the cap, foil seal, and label from the container, because they will not be accepted for recycling.
  • Puncture: Render the container unusable by puncturing it.
  • Type: Only containers made from high-density polyethylene (HDPE) #2 plastic are acceptable for recycling.
  • Keep container dry: The recycler will not accept a container with liquid in it; keep containers out of the rain.

Here's the scoop on where to recycle your containers. One-day collection points are scattered around Illinois during the growing season. There are also five permanent collection sites that can take containers for recycling, though anyone taking in containers should call ahead. The sites are Illinois Valley Supply, Carrolton; Monmouth Grain and Dryer, Monmouth; Effingham Equity, Altamont; Randolph Ag Service Inc., Heyworth; and UAP/Richter, Atlanta. More information and contacts can be found by calling (800) 641-3934 or by browsing online at www.agr.state.il.us/Environment/recycle.html. More information on preparing pesticide containers for recycling can be found at www.PesticideSafety.uiuc.edu under UI Extension "Pesticide Container Preparation" fact sheet.