Do Your Part by Recycling Pesticide Containers: Here's How

Empty pesticide jugs for recycling
Figure 1. By recycling empty pesticide containers, Nebraska growers and agribusinesses moved 75,000 pounds of plastic from waste to repurposed use.

Do Your Part by Recycling Pesticide Containers: Here's How

Recycling plastic is the right thing to do ― especially when it diverts about 75,000 pounds of pesticide containers annually from Nebraska landfills. The clean containers are made into ag drain tile/pipe, pallets, and other useful products for U.S. agriculture and industry.

Ag Recycling Council Strives to Increase Recycling

The Agricultural Container and Recycling Council reports that in 2018 Nebraska recycled 74,800 pounds of pesticide containers. ACRC hopes to more than double that in 2019 to 160,000 pounds, said ACRC Executive Director Mark Hudson. ACRC, a not-for-profit organization funded by crop protection product manufacturers and distributors, has more than 50 members.

Hudson welcomes suggestions on how to improve services and is especially interested in helping  retail locations become collection sites. He also is seeking input on how to reach areas that are underserved and ideas for safe and appropriate end uses for the recycled plastic. Currently, containers are made into products such as plastic pallets for seed and ag chemical companies. Contact Hudson at mhudson@acrecycle.org, 919-624-8013.        

Now in its 28th year, the recycling program has 18 sites statewide where producers and commercial applicators can take used pesticide containers. However before taken to the sites, containers must be triple- or pressure-rinsed. Label booklets and caps must be removed, though base labels can remain. (See How to Rinse Pesticide Containers.)

Containers must be rigid, high-density polyethylene, 55-gallon size or smaller. (Check to see if your site accepts drums.) Containers originally held pesticides for crop, turf/ornamental, forestry, aquatics, public health and pest control; as well as adjuvants, crop oils, and surfactants. Containers that originally held consumer products, or home and garden pesticides are NOT accepted. Clean containers are collected, ground up, and reused in industry-approved products such as pallets, drain tile, underground utility conduit, landscape edging, and nursery pots.

When a sustainable and viable alternative is available to taking containers to the landfill, there’s every reason to take advantage of the opportunity. Nebraskans are known to be good stewards, and this is just another example of how to do that.

To see a container preparation checklist, additional sites as added during the year, and more, see http://pested.unl.edu/recycling.

Collection Sites

(Listed by county and location)

Year-Round

2019 sites for pesticide container recycling
Figure 2. Pesticide container collection sites for 2019.
  • Buffalo: Kearney Recycling Center, Kearney, Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Cass: Wilber Ellis, Plattsmouth, call 402-298-8550 to schedule
  • Cuming: West Point Transfer Station, West Point, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. and 1-4 p.m.; Saturday 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., accepts drums
  • Dawson: Country Partners Cooperative, Lexington, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., accepts drums
  • Lincoln: ABC Recycling, North Platte, Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; accepts drums
  • Scotts Bluff: Gering Landfill, Gering, Monday through Friday, 6:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., accepts drums

May-August

  • Antelope: Central Valley Ag, Royal, accepts drums
  • Dawes, Solid Waste Association of Northwest Nebraska, Chadron, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., accepts drums
  • Saunders: Helena Agri Enterprises, LLC, Ashland, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Open Specific Days

  • Dakota: Central Valley Ag, South Sioux City, Wednesdays in June and July, 11 a.m. to noon, accepts drums
  • Johnson: Midwest Farmers Co-op, Tecumseh, July 22-Aug. 2, accepts drums
  • Lancaster: Midwest Farmers Co-op, Waverly, June 14

By Appointment

  • Burt: Tekamah Transfer Station, Tekamah, year-round by appointment, call 402-374-2929
  • Custer: Custer County Recycling, Broken Bow, Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., by appointment, call 308-870-0313, accepts drums
  • Lincoln: North Platte Transfer Station, North Platte, by appointment, call 308-535-6700, accepts drums
  • Otoe: Midwest Farmers Co-op, Nebraska City, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. by appointment, call 402-873-3391, accepts drums
  • Sarpy: Farmers Union Co-op, Gretna, 8 a.m.-5 p.m. by appointment, call 402-332-3315
  • Thurston: Papio NRD, Walthill, monthly by appointment, call 402-846-5463, accepts drums