Fieldman’s Files – Pesticide container collection

Normand Boulet, CCA
Agricultural Fieldman
M.D. of Smoky River No. 130
Have you ever wondered what becomes of empty pesticide containers? Or do you have empty pesticide containers and you’re wondering what you should do with them?

The empty pesticide container program was begun in Alberta by Alberta Environment when it was recognized that empty containers had no home to go to, landfills didn’t want them so producers were burning them – releasing toxins into the air or dumping them in areas residues could enter the environment. The program has evolved over the years and is now operated by CleanFARMS which is a not-for-profit industry stewardship organization committed to the proper management of agricultural waste.

According to the CleanFARMS website, since the program began in 1989 more than 100 million containers have been collected.

The program deals with containers that are 23 litres or less in size. Larger containers like totes and drums need to go back to their point of purchase, where they are picked up, cleaned and reused. Empty, rinsed containers under 23 litres can be brought to the appropriate pesticide container collection sites. For specific site locations and hours of operation you can contact your Agricultural Field- man, or visit cleanfarms. ca where a map showing all Alberta collection sites can be found.

The pesticide containers brought to the Municipal sites need to be drained, rinsed and should have the caps and labels removed. The caps, labels and cardboard boxes can be placed in the landfill. The empty rinsed containers can go into the collection site.

The reason the caps and labels are not welcomed is that the containers are chipped and the plastic is recycled, the caps and labels are impurities which lower the quality and value of the plastic. If I told you there is something farmers in Ontario and Quebec do better than those in Western Canada, would you believe me? Farmers in Ontario & Quebec do a better job recycling their empty pesticide containers than we do. They are more likely to bring them back for recycling, the containers are rinsed better and they are better at removing the caps & booklets than we are. This means the recycled plastic is cleaner, it’s of higher value and it can be sold and shipped into the U.S. because it is considered to be ‘clean’ whereas the recycled plastic from our containers has to be moved around as dangerous goods, and can’t be shipped out of Canada, increasing costs & decreasing its value.

The products made from Eastern Canadian recycled jugs is of better quality because it doesn’t have the caps and booklets mixed in, and has less residue on it.

It is very important to ensure the containers are properly rinsed and the labels and caps are removed to help keep costs down and to allow CleanFARMS to produce the best quality chips from our empty containers possible.

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

An assortment of improperly rinsed containers which, if recycled, will reduce the value of the plastic chips. Also note the remaining caps and labels.

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