Crop protection products are essential in agricultural production to protect crops against insects and disease, control weeds, and enhance plant health. Getting the agrichemicals from the manufacturer to the ag retailer and to the farm requires the use of thousands of plastic pesticide containers, from 2.5-gallon jugs up to 250-gallon containers called mini-bulks. But once these containers have served their purpose, disposing of them can be problematic due to the sheer number of tanks and the fact that they once contained crop care chemicals.
For the past 20 years, the Illinois Department of Agriculture has coordinated the recycling of small pesticide containers with funding from the Ag Container Recycling Council. However, mini-bulk containers are not accepted at this program. Hearing the demand for mini-bulk recycling, the Illinois Fertilizer & Chemical Association (IFCA), which represents the ag input industry in Illinois, coordinated an extensive effort with the Illinois Department of Agriculture to assist ag retailers in properly disposing of pesticide mini-bulks.
This fall, IFCA member GROWMARK Inc. provided state-wide route truck pickups of the clean, triple-rinsed tanks and eight IFCA ag retail members hosted collection sites for the tanks. At the collection sites, Illinois Department of Ag personnel inspected the tanks to ensure they were clean. Once approved, IFCA staff — with assistance from ag retail facility employees — loaded the tanks into semi-trucks where they were transported to FarmChem in Floyd, IA to be chipped and then shipped to Texas where the plastic is recycled and used to make parking bumpers, buoys, field tiles, pallets, and for other non-food uses.
The first-year program collected 2,275 mini-bulk tanks.
“We are very proud of the commitment that our members at all levels within the agrichemical industry showed in supporting this program, and working side-by-side with the Illinois Department of Agriculture, we were able to ensure that these tanks ended up being safely recycled for useful purposes instead of ending up in landfills or taking up valuable space in warehouses,” says Jean Payne, IFCA president.
IFCA was able to secure financial assistance from pesticide manufacturers including BASF, Bayer, Dow AgroSciences, DuPont, Monsanto, MANA, Syngenta, Winfield Solutions, and other registrants to help fund the collection program. Each ag retailer also paid a fee to participate in the program.