July 7, 2004 | By: Laura Skillman
PRINCETON, Ky.

Since 1991, Kentucky farmers have participated in a recycling program that ensures proper disposal of pesticide containers.

The Rinse & Return program collected nearly 50,000 pounds of plastic containers in 2003 and more than 900,000 since its inception, according to the Kentucky Department of Agriculture. Initially a pilot project in three Kentucky counties to stop the disposal of containers in sinkholes, streams and illegal dumps, the program is now offered free in 107 counties.

The program is administered by the Kentucky Department of Agriculture in cooperation with chemical dealers and other state and local agencies including the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service and state Division of Conservation.

KDA Division of Environmental Services Field Representative Mark Wilson helped initiate the program in 1991 and continues to work with it today. While the program has been successful, many more pesticide containers could be returned, he said.

Agricultural retailers and commercial applicators are where the bulk of the jugs come from, Wilson said. They’d like to see more individual farmers, private applicators, lawn care and pest control applicators also utilize the program, which is funded by the crop protectant manufacturers, he said.

“Kentucky’s Agriculture Water Quality plan has rinse and return as one of the key best management practices (BMPs) for farmers to follow when dealing with pesticide containers,” said Henry Duncan, agricultural water quality liaison with the UK Cooperative Extension Service.

“Improper management of used pesticide containers is a real concern as a pollutant of the waters of the commonwealth,” he said.

Todd County Extension Agent for Agriculture and Natural Resources Curt Judy has been involved with the program since its inception. He was the Extension agent in Christian County when it was one of the pilot counties.

Extension agents work to promote the program within their county and help to provide the manpower along with KDA for unloading and checking the containers at collection points and again when the containers are chipped.

“We get pretty good participation, of course you’d like to see everyone participate,” Judy said. “It’s a good way to get rid of the containers and know where they are going.”

Judy said the program fits well with Extension’s efforts to encourage safe handling of pesticides as well as the concept of recycling.

“This program started about the time counties were mandated to cut the amount of waste they were sending to landfills,” he said. 

This year’s collections began in June and will continue through early October. A list of dates and locations is available on the KDA Web site, www.kyagr.com  under environmental services. Collection points vary from county to county. They may be the county road department, a local farm supply store or Extension office.

To be accepted, the containers must have their lids, any plastic sleeves and booklets removed. They also must be properly rinsed either using a pressure rinsing or triple rinsing method. Once collected, the jugs are shredded into chips and recycled into new products such as fence posts and curb stops.

In western Kentucky, many farmers use mini bulk tanks for their chemical needs and these tanks are collected through a separate program. For information on this program, check with a local chemical retailer. Also offered in Kentucky is the chemical collection and disposal program. Under this program, unused chemicals are collected directly from the farm. For more information on this program call the KDA at 1-800-205-6543.

For more information on the Rinse and Return program contact the KDA or your county Extensionoffice.           

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Contact: 

Editor: Laura Skillman 270-365-7541 ext. 278
Source: Henry Duncan, 502-564-3080; Curt Judy, 270-524-5659