Program Guidelines

Container Services Network (CSN) will coordinate the collection and recycling of used crop protection containers in Nebraska. CSN has been contracted by the non-profit Ag Container Recycling Council (ACRC) to recycle the plastic containers in Nebraska. CSN will pick up these containers and process them at a service center.

  • The Pesticide Container Recycling Program is designed to recycle the plastic from rinsed (triple or pressure) pesticide (or crop oil) containers (1.0 or 2.5 gallons) or crop protection chemical drums (15, 30 or 55 gallons)
  • Accepted containers and drums are rinsed, drained and clean inside and outAccepted containers and drums must be free of pesticide residue, inside and out
  • Pesticide containers or drums are not to be crushed
  • Containers and drums are inspected immediately upon arrival at the collection site
  • Any container or drum with external pesticide residue that can be rubbed off by a protective-gloved hand is rejected
  • Rejected containers or drums remain the property of the driver of the vehicle
  • Rinse any rejected containers and return the clean containers to an collection site at a later date. Rinsate is used to dilute (as per the label) the next pesticide application
  • Stained containers, but clean and rinsed, are acceptable

Procedures for Plastic Pesticide Containers of 1.0 and 2.5 gallons:

  • Remove label booklets, plastic shrink-wrap labels and caps from the containers and dispose of as solid wastePlastic container caps cannot be recycled as part of this program. Rinse caps and dispose as solid waste
  • A single layer of glued-on paper labels may remain on the container
  • Accepted containers are to be placed in 4-mil 275-gal plastic bags provided by CSN and stored away from exposure to the elements
  • Containers should not be punctured
  • Minimum collection of 1,000 lbs. of containers is requiredIf less than 1500 containers are present, CSN will require consolidation with other collection sites to reach 1,000 lb. or the containers may be stored until the minimum is reached
  • Do not bale or crush stored, accepted containers
  • Crop oil/adjuvant containers are accepted
  • No homeowner plastic pesticide containers are accepted

Procedures of Plastic Crop Protection Chemical Drums of 15, 30 and 55 gallons:

  • Drums may be stored outside. If stored outside, stack the drums on their sides to prevent rain from entering the bung hole
  • Do not cut open drums
  • Mini-bulk, saddle tanks or nurse tanks are not accepted
  • Crop oil and adjuvant drums are accepted
  • Drums will be collected by CSN at the end of the season

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How to Participant

  1. All pesticide containers must be triple rinsed with caps and labels removed per ACRC specifications.
  2. All containers smaller than 5 gallons must be in bags to be recycled. Each bag can hold approximately 40 of the 2 1/2 gallon containers (about 30 pounds). Containers 5 gallons and larger will be loaded loose onto the truck.
  3. CSN will coordinate with each State/Ag organization and collection point to schedule pickups. Collection sites and applicators will be notified 48 hours prior to their scheduled date. 
  4. The site coordinator and contractor's agent will be responsible for inspecting and approving the condition of containers for pickup. 

 

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Collection Site Operations

A common approach at a collection site is to spread a plastic tarp on the ground. Upon arrival, the containers or drums are moved from the vehicle and placed upon the tarp. The inspection process takes place on the tarp. Accepted containers are placed into 4-mil 275-gal plastic bags, then tossed into the temporary storage facility. Any rejected containers or drums are set aside on the tarp until all of the containers are inspected and then are placed back into the vehicle. Rejected containers remain the property of the driver of the vehicle.

Nebraska's pesticide container recycling program has two major strengths:

  1. The educational and promotional program, as coupled with UNL Extension's Pesticide Safety Education Program (PSEP), is a fundamental avenue to inform applicators of the recycling program and its guidelines. The network of communication among Extension staff and their clientele across the state enhances the success. The message is promoted to the applicators who generate the rinsed and cleaned containers.
  2. Flexibility of the collection structure. Four types of schedules are present in Nebraska. The choice of which schedule to use is dependent upon the wishes of the collection site management at the local level. The four collection schedule types are as follows:
  • By appointment only
  • Specific dates and times (one or two-day events) during June, July, and August
  • Use-season (May to August)
  • Year-round

Some sites may inspect and collect on any business day during the time period; others do so only on pre-designated days across the season or year. The type of schedule that is used is decided by each collection site management and their preferences.

Sometimes, the collection site is at a business that specializes in the recycling of various products. Those operations easily lend themselves to being accessible on all business days. It's critical in these situations that the plastic pesticide containers be stored separate from all other plastic.

A very tight inventory control is present in this recycling activity. Inspections are fundamental to assure that high-quality containers are accepted. Containers temporarily stored at a site cannot be baled or crushed.

Our recycling program cannot sell the plastic to the industry for recycling. There is low market value or demand for it. Instead, the national coalition of pesticide manufacturers is underwriting the expenses in many states to inspect the containers a second time before acceptance, take possession of the plastic, transport and grind it and arrange for recycling into the plastics industry.

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History of the Pesticide Container Recycling Project

The Pesticide Container Recycling Program was developed by members of the Nebraska Department of Agriculture, the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality, and UNL Extension, in 1991. UNL Extension has subsequently coordinated and guided the project's development, organization, promotion and collections.

The project is self-supporting after receiving initial support from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for 1992 and 1993. A coalition of eight organizations and three state departments initially aided the project development and promotion. They formed the Nebraska Pesticide Container Recycling Committee, which consisted of representatives from the Nebraska Aviation Trades Association, the Nebraska Cooperative Council, the Nebraska Farm Bureau Federation, the Nebraska Fertilizer & Ag-Chemical Institute, the Nebraska Independent Crop Consultants Association, the Nebraska State Pest Control Association, the Nebraska Turfgrass Foundation, the Nebraska Weed Control Association, University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension, the Nebraska Department of Agriculture and the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality.

The Nebraska Pesticide Container Recycling Program is touted by the U.S. EPA as a model for other states. The program incorporates multiple collection strategies by offering year-long, season-long and specific date collections of containers.

Every year, about 1 million plastic agricultural pesticide containers are used in Nebraska. This project gives producers a chance to recycle these containers. Since 1992, more than 2 million pounds of plastic from pesticide containers have been removed from Nebraska's landscape and recycled. This project is successful because of the excellent environmental stewardship that is exhibited by pesticide applicators, agri-chemical manufacturers and dealerships, trade organizations, the green industry and the structural pest control industry, all in cooperation with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension.

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