Fieldman’s Files – How to deal with empty pesticide containers

Normand Boulet, CCA
Agricultural Fieldman
M.D. of Smoky River No. 130
The empty pesticide container recycling program has been in operation since 1989, and in that time more than 100 million empty containers have been collected, with most being recycled. The container collection sites are located at various municipal landfills and other sites throughout Alberta and accept empty rinsed containers 23 litres or smaller.

Cardboard boxes are not recycled; they need to be placed in the landfill. In addition, the paper booklets and caps need to be removed and landfilled. Those booklets and caps greatly reduce the quality and value of the plastic for recycling. I realize removing all those isn’t a fun job.
But just think how much easier it is for one person to remove the booklets and lids from their 100 jugs, rather than have the contractors dealing with thousands upon thousands of jugs every day. Can you say repetitive strain injury?

The containers need to be properly rinsed to make sure that you as the farmer get the full amount of product you paid for, and are applying at the right rate. And it’s also much safer for you, your family and staff as well as the CleanFarms staff and contractors to be dealing with empty rinsed containers, rather than be exposed to full concentrated product – and how many different types all mingled together?

Considering the increased concern with Fusarium graminearum in the Peace Region, I would certainly expect more seed treatment containers to be showing up in our collection sites this spring.

The seed treatment containers don’t need to be triple rinsed, and they are destroyed rather than being recycled due to contamination concerns.
Consider using totes and drums for your seed treating especially, all totes and drums (anything over 23 litres) need to go back to the retailer and those units are sent back to the manufacturer for cleaning and reuse. That is a much safer situation for all persons handling containers (including yours truly), and there is less energy consumed having the containers cleaned and reused rather than chipped, washed, melted and remade into new products.

So as you plan your seed treating and pre-seed or early in-crop pesticide application, strongly consider the use of totes & drums as a way to reduce containers needing to be rinsed and dealt with through the CleanFarms program. For the containers you are bringing to municipal sites, please be sure they are properly rinsed, and have the paper booklets and caps removed.

As always, if you have questions or comments about any information presented feel free to contact me at (780) 837-0043 or by email at

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