100 Million Pounds, And Growing

In October 2008, the Ag Con­tainer Recycling Council (ACRC) celebrated the collection and recycling of 100 million pounds of triple-rinsed pesticide containers in a commemorative event held in Courtland, VA. To put this laudable accomplishment in perspective, consider:

•  If lined up end-to-end, the containers would circle the Earth 1.5 times.
•  It has provided energy savings equal to 20.25 million gallons of gasoline.
•  It has resulted in the reduction of 19,500 metric tons of carbon equivalent.
•  It has saved more than 500,000 cubic yards of valuable landfill space.

Founded in 1992 and completely funded since its inception by leading manufacturers of crop protection products, ACRC has continuously managed the collection and recycling of triple-rinsed plastic from agricultural crop protection, specialty pest control, micronutrient/fertilizer, and/or adjuvant product containers at a cost approaching $50 million. This model product stewardship program, arguably the oldest in the U.S., continues to serve as an exemplary model for other industries in the growing trend of being “green” and demonstrating sustainability.

State Support

The model program receives high praise from state and federal officials alike. “EPA commends ACRC and its member companies for their continuing leadership in the area of pesticide container recycling. Programs like this advance the nation’s public health and environmental protection goals and are a model for acting holistically to achieve sustainability consistent with our shared principles of corporate environmental stewardship,” says Nancy Fitz, chemical engineer, U.S. EPA Office of Pesticide Programs. “The plastic pesticide container recycling program offers agricultural producers and custom applicators a convenient option for disposing of their empty pesticide containers.”

Holly Cushman, the Hazardous Waste & Toxics Reduction Program, Washington State Department of Ecology says: “This program, is environmentally-friendly, promotes public health and safety, and reduces waste. It is a win-win program for our environment and our neighbors.”

Now in its 18th year, ACRC — representing its 28 current member companies — has committed to funding the recycling of an additional 9 million pounds of pesticide containers in 2009. This would represent a recycling rate of approximately 35%; the highest rate for any type of plastic packaging in the U.S. To accomplish this objective, ACRC employs five independent contractors who service approximately 1,500 collection sites across the U.S. in a cost-effective manner that fosters public health and safety, environmental protection, resource conservation, and customer convenience. The limiting factor to collection is the participation of pesticide users and the availability of collection sites within reasonable driving distances.

Finding Funding

ACRC receives no government funding and is supported entirely by member company dues. ACRC conducts a survey of its members to determine what volume (weight) of high-density polyethylene (HDPE) plastic they put in the U.S. marketplace annually as a result of crop protection product sales. Members are required to report sales of all products in HDPE containers that bear their label, even if another company made the product or filled the containers. Six categories of container sizes are included in the survey, ranging from less than 1 gallon to 55 gallons, which then is used to calculate the total annual weight of plastic placed on the market by the members. Dues are equitably assessed on each member’s share of plastic generated relative to other members of ACRC. All survey and dues data are held confidential.

Understanding ACRC

Is every pesticide manufacturer a member of ACRC?
While not all companies that generate plastic containers are members of the ACRC, it is estimated that ACRC membership is composed of companies that sell over 85% of all pesticides sold in the U.S. Nevertheless, as a non-profit organization, ACRC collects and recycles all agricultural and specialty pesticide containers, whether they originated with a member company or not. While those companies that choose to join ACRC bear the full cost, the benefits resulting from this dedicated commitment to environmentally responsible container disposal are enjoyed by the entire industry.

What types of containers are accepted for recycling?
All non-refillable, HDPE #2 plastic crop protection and other specialty pesticide product containers are accepted in sizes up to and including 55 gallons. Pesticide users can find the closest collection site by visiting ACRC’s Web site at www.acrecycle.org, and calling the ACRC contractor that services the user’s state.

Containers must be empty, triple-, or pressure-rinsed, and dry both inside and outside before they can be accepted at the collection site.

How are containers collected?
ACRC contractors collect containers from growers, retailers, applicators, and government-sponsored collection sites in 40 states. Contractors provide service to collection sites on an established schedule; inspecting containers to certify that they have been triple rinsed before grinding them into “flakes.” Flakes are blown directly into enclosed shipping containers on site. Contractors continue on prescribed routes from site to site aggregating truck load quantities before transporting the plastic to their storage facilities.

How are the containers recycled?
Chipped containers are shipped to plastic processors who wash the plastic flake to remove paper and other contaminants. The clean recycled plastic that results is then sold to ACRC-approved end-users that use the plastic in ACRC-approved end use products. To ensure that there are no environmental, public health, or safety concerns associated with the plastic, ACRC has conducted extensive risk assessment studies. In addition to risk analysis on end-use products, ACRC has conducted studies to monitor worker exposure to pesticides during the processing (grinding, mixing, and extrusion) of plastic obtained from emptied pesticide containers. Exposure studies were carried out during the fabrication of samples used in the study as well as at two facilities where recovered plastic was being processed. All plastic collected in ACRC’s recycling program is used in a very limited number of approved safe end uses. Currently, most of the recycled plastic is used in the manufacture of field drain tile.

ACRC is continually trying to expand the reach of the program through promotion at state agri-business conferences and national conferences such as the Ag Retailers Association. ACRC’s mission is to educate users how easy it is to rinse and return their containers to be recycled. Retailers can play a critical role by providing their customers with convenient and user friendly location to drop off their triple-rinsed containers.

If you have an interest in demonstrating your commitment to good pesticide stewardship to your neighbors or state and local regulatory agencies in an easy and highly visible manner, please call us toll-free at 877-952-2272 or visit our Web site, www.acrecycle.org.

Leave a Reply

Stewardship Stories

StewardshipA Multi-Layered Approach To Water Quality
October 6, 2014
Illinois event highlights research and technology designed to better monitor and improve water quality — and the benefits of cooperative, coordinated effort. Read More
StewardshipMichigan Agriculture Leaders On Toledo Water Ban: We Want To Be Part Of The Conversation
August 8, 2014
Leaders of Michigan agricultural organizations said Thursday that the government should not have a “knee-jerk reaction” based on last weekend’s water ban in Toledo due to fertilizer run-off in Lake Erie. Read More
StewardshipBayer Lands Honor For Bee Care Center, Other Initiatives
June 3, 2014
Bayer Corp. has been named a 2014 Responsible Care Company of the Year by the American Chemistry Council, thanks in large part to its Drive Toward Zero initiative and North American Bayer Bee Care Center. Read More
StewardshipStrip-Tillage: A Sustainable Effort
March 3, 2014
As sustainable agriculture grows in popularity, interest in custom strip-tillage is growing. Read More

Trending Articles

HerbicidesAdjusting To The New Reality Of Weed Control
November 4, 2014
Even with new cropping systems being readied for market introductions, weed control will remain a challenge for many. Read More
StewardshipResponsibleAg Begins Auditor Training
October 31, 2014
ResponsibleAg auditor training is now underway at the Ford B. West Center for Responsible Agriculture in Owensboro, KY. Read More
InsecticidesNew Research Study Shows The Value Of Neonics
October 29, 2014
The study evaluated seed treatment, soil and foliar uses of neonicotinoid insecticides in the U.S. and Canada. Read More
Crop InputsPlatform Specialty Products To Acquire Arysta LifeScience
October 20, 2014
Once the acquisition is complete, Platform Specialty Products will combine Arysta LifeScience with previously acquired companies Agriphar and Chemtura Crop Solutions. Read More
Seed/BiotechMonsanto Offers New Support For Ferguson, Area Communities
October 8, 2014
Monsanto Co. has committed $1 million in new support for several collaborative efforts in Ferguson, MO, and surrounding communities in North St. Louis County. Read More
Seed/BiotechUnapproved Genetically Modified Wheat Found In Montana
October 3, 2014
USDA reports that one year after discovery of Monsanto's unapproved wheat in a single Oregon field disrupted U.S. wheat export sales, the GMO wheat has again been found in Montana. Read More

Latest News

soybean field
Crop InputsABM Patents Microbial R&D Technique
November 25, 2014
Focused Microbial Diversity (FMD) is a newly patented technique employed by Advanced Biological Marketing (ABM) to research and develop microbials that will be used in ABM products Read More
Crop InputsStorage Options Help Grain Growers Go To Market
November 24, 2014
While on-farm storage in a traditional upright storage bin is one possibility for storing grain, it may not be for everyone. Read More
Eric SfiligojGiving Thanks For Another Great Year
November 24, 2014
As Thanksgiving Day 2014 arrives, agriculture has plenty to be thankful for. Read More
Crop InputsSyngenta Cost-Cutting Program To Affect 1,800 Jobs
November 24, 2014
The company's Accelerating Operational Leverage program will result in job reductions and relocations totaling around 1,800 across the company, the majority of which will occur in 2015. Read More
EquipmentAGCO Announces Operator Of The Year Finalists
November 20, 2014
Four custom applicators have been selected by AGCO Application Equipment as finalists for 2014 Operator of the Year, an honor that recognizes them as being among the top professionals in their industry throughout North America. Read More
MicronutrientsH.J. Baker Expands Tiger-Sul Business
November 20, 2014
H.J. Baker has created and filled two strategic positions in business development and sales within its Crop Performance Division. Read More
soybean field
FertilizerGeneral Mills Honors United Suppliers For Nitrogen Opti…
November 19, 2014
United Suppliers winning proposal detailed SUSTAIN, a consulting network that provides customized products and services for farmers using a needs-based system approach. Read More
EmployeesOhio AgriBusiness Association Awards $25,000 In Scholar…
November 19, 2014
Each year, the Ohio AgriBusiness Association Educational Trust scholarship program awards scholarship dollars to students enrolled in an agriculture-related field attending several state colleges. Read More
ManagementServi-Tech Names New CEO
November 17, 2014
Servi-Tech has named Greg Ruehle its new president and CEO. Read More
CropLife 100Pinnacle Ag Acquires Colorado Aerial Application Outlet
November 17, 2014
Ft. Lupton, CO-based Reck Aviation — a full-service chemical application company providing aerial crop applications of fertilizers and crop protection products — will operate as part of Pinnacle's AgOne Application Services brand. Read More
Eric SfiligojMcDonald’s Message: Biotech Crops Scarier Than Cancer
November 17, 2014
Despite their potential health benefits, one of the world’s largest potato users will pass on a new biotech offering. Read More
MicronutrientsWinField Releases 2014 NutriSolutions Results
November 14, 2014
A number of significant regional and national crop deficiency trends emerged from the 2014 WinField NutriSolutions tissue sampling program. Read More
FertilizerH.J. Baker Opens Chinese Production Lines
November 14, 2014
The occasion was the official launch of the Tiger-Sul sulphur Bentonite production line of two much anticipated fertilizer products in China, T90CR sulphur fertilizer and TZinc micronutrient enhanced sulphur fertilizer. Read More
ManagementOhio Certified Crop Adviser Program Accepting Nominatio…
November 14, 2014
The award recognizes an individual who delivers exceptional customer service for farmer clients in nutrient management, soil and water management, integrated pest management and crop production in Ohio. Read More
HerbicidesSyngenta Announces Acuron Trial Plot Results
November 14, 2014
Acuron was tested at 167 trial locations across 35 states. Trials included 95 Syngenta locations, 54 university locations and 18 distributor locations. Read More
Crop InputsVerdesian Expands Sales Force
November 13, 2014
The new sales representatives will work with growers, retail partners and distributors to oversee technical training and product education. Read More
EquipmentAGCO Raises $100K For Wounded Warrior Project
November 13, 2014
AGCO Corp. partnered with local AGCO dealers across the U.S. and Canada to raise nearly $100,000 in support of wounded service veterans. Read More
HerbicidesDow AgroSciences Announces Launch Of Enlist Duo Herbici…
November 12, 2014
It will be launched in conjunction with a stewarded introduction of Enlist corn, and seed production of Enlist soybeans in 2015. Read More