As the season progresses and crop protection products are applied, the handling and disposal of all those pesticide containers deserve some attention.

Emptying and cleaning the containers is very important. Take time to thoroughly empty and rinse used crop protection containers to ensure you get the benefit of all the product you paid for and reduce the chance for non-target exposures and environmental contamination. Liquid products should be thoroughly drained into the spray tank and the container should be rinsed immediately, adding the rinsate directly back into the spray tank.

If containers are not rinsed soon after emptying, the remaining product can turn into a dried, caked residue that is extremely difficult or impossible to clean. Pressure or triple rinse containers to make sure they are thoroughly cleaned.

Recycling containers
Recycling is the environmentally friendly and responsible way of disposing of empty containers. Recycling options vary depending on the container size.

Recycling containers up to 55 gallons
Clean containers up to 55 gallons can be recycled for free through a program sponsored by the Ag Container Recycling Council (ACRC).

In 2015, a record 10,440,000 pounds of pesticide containers were collected and recycled in the USA through the ACRC program. This represents a 4% increase over 2014 and was the sixth year in a row that pesticide container recycling exceeded eight million pounds. Historically, Iowa has been a leader in recycling containers ranking fourth in the nation in 2015 (behind California, Washington, and Texas).

The ACRC website offers videos on properly pressure or triple rinsing small containers and larger sized drums. In Iowa, containers up to 55 gallons can be recycled under the ACRC program through a contract with Container Services Network, LLC. (CSN). A brief outline of the CSN process:

1. All pesticide containers must be pressure or triple rinsed with caps and labels removed.​

2. All containers smaller than 5 gallons must be in bags to be recycled. Each bag can hold approximately 40 of the 2½ gallon containers. 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.

4. The site coordinator and contractor’s agent will be responsible for inspecting and approving the condition of containers for pickup.

For more information on how to recycle pesticide containers visit the CSN website or contact them directly at 866-225-6629.

Recycling mini-bulk and intermediate bulk containers
Although some mini-bulk and intermediate bulk containers (IBCs) are refillable there are still many sitting around businesses and farms that are no longer useable. The Pesticide Stewardship Alliance (TPSA) provides information on rinsing and recycling mini-bulk and IBCs and companies that will recycle these containers. There are currently eight companies that offer recycling services in Iowa. For more information on specific companies that offer recycling services in Iowa, visit the TPSA website.

Remember to wear appropriate protective gear when mixing, loading, and rinsing containers and never reuse a pesticide container for another purpose.