Forty Nebraska locations are accepting empty, plastic pesticide containers for recycling as part of a UNL Extension program.

The UNL program helps recycle 1- and 2.5-gallon plastic pesticide containers and 15-, 30- and 55-gallon plastic crop protection chemical drums, said UNL pesticide safety educator Clyde Ogg who coordinates the program for NU's Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

A full list of recycling sites, guidelines, and program information is on UNL's Pesticide Education Resources web site at

Plastic from collected containers is turned into industrial and consumer products such as shipping pallets, drain tile, dimension lumber, and parking lot tire bumpers. Last year, the UNL program helped recycle about 25 tons of containers, contributing to a 18-year total of about 950 tons of containers, Ogg said.

"Knowledge of the program, plus teamwork and cooperation have always formed a base for this very successful program," Ogg said, citing cooperation from UNL Extension Educators and collection site managers statewide.

"Most of the (collection) sites are at agricultural chemical dealerships or community recycling centers, which volunteer to take on this additional responsibility," he said, adding "Every pesticide container collected through this program is one less that might otherwise be improperly disposed of."

The program accepts pressure-rinsed or triple-rinsed 1- and 2.5-gallon plastic pesticide containers. They must be clean and drained, inside and out. Caps, labels and slipcover plastic labels must be removed since they cannot be recycled as part of the program. They should be disposed of as solid waste.

Of the 40 sites, 24 accept 15-, 30- and 55-gallon plastic crop protection chemical, crop oil, and adjuvant drums. These drums must be thoroughly rinsed before delivery to collection sites and should not be cut or opened in any way. Seven sites collect year-around, 14 collect from May through August, 13 collect on specific dates, and six are by appointment only.

Mini-bulk, saddle tanks, and nurse tanks, which can be made of fiberglass or plastics not compatible with the recycling program, are not accepted.

Before delivery to collection sites, containers and drums should be cleaned, rinsed, and drained. Rinsate should be returned to the spray tank. Booklets, caps and plastic shrink-wraps from containers should be removed and properly disposed of. Glued-on paper labels can be left on the container.

This program is funded by a national coalition of agri-chemical manufacturers through the Agricultural Container Recycling Council, Washington, D.C.

Nebraska collection sites

SOURCE: University of Nebraska.