Disposing of used plastic pesticide containers, in a manner that does not threaten the environment, poses a challenge for agricultural producers and custom applicators. Typically, pesticide applicators dispose of their empty, clean plastic pesticide containers by hauling them to the local sanitary landfill.
Virginia's Plastic Pesticide Container Recycling Program is a cooperative effort among Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS), Virginia Cooperative Extension, and local governments. The program is administered by local governments under national guidelines developed by the Ag Container Recycling Council. Grant monies are provided to participating local government to defray the costs. Recycling sites are established in participating localities to accept properly rinsed plastic pesticide containers. Other sites will be established as the program expands. All pesticide containers are inspected by trained local personnel. Containers are granulated by a contractor with assistance from VDACS and local personnel. Granulated chips are transported to recycling facilities and fabricated into items such as pallets, fence posts, field drain tiles and parking stops.
Virginia's container recycling program began in 1993 in six localities with more than 35,000 containers recycled. The number of participating localities has steadily increased from 6 in 1993 to 19 in 2012. In addition, individual pesticide dealers also participated in the program. In 2012, the program collected and granulated properly-rinsed plastic pesticide containers at 31 sites, including 18 localities, 10 licensed dealers and commercial applicators and 2 private agricultural producers. A total of total of 88,889 pounds of plastic pesticide containers were recycled in 2012, for a total of 1,274,350 pounds recycled since 1993.