By STEVE BINDER
SPRINGFILED, Ill. — One Illinois farmer’s plastic fertilizer container eventually will be transformed into another grower’s drain tile.
That’s been the end result of a two-decades-old recycling program initiated by the Illinois Department of Agriculture (IDOA) that keeps growing in popularity each year, officials said.
“We’ve always been happy with the response we’ve gotten, and it seems to get better and better each year,” said Doug Owens, IDOA coordinator for the state’s agrichemical container recycling program.
Four permanent donation sites can collect containers anytime during the year, but one-day collection sites start operating on July 30 and run at 30 different locations through Aug. 30. Some one-day sites are open during the morning, and some are open during the afternoon.
To check for a specific site near you, go to www.agr.state.il.us/environment or call 800-641-3934.
The program is a cooperative venture between IDOA, the Illinois Farm Bureau, GROWMARK, Inc., the Agriculture Container Recycling Council, the Illinois Fertilizer and Chemical Assoc., Container Services Network and University of Illinois extension.
It only accepts high-density polyethylene, No. 2 plastic containers and the jugs must be rinsed and clean to be accepted. Metal and other household pesticide containers can’t be accepted as part of the program, Owens said.
“The plastic company that we contract with takes all of the material and processes it to make tile for drainage, and it’s made available at a reasonable price,” he said. South Carolina-based Container Services Network has the contract to collect and process the material, he added.
It is recommended containers be rinsed at least three times, and that all caps, labels and foil seals are removed.
The permanent site locations and contacts each are:
•Illinois Valley Supply, Carrollton, Greene County; John Quandt, 217-942-6991
•Klein Flying Service, Lawrenceville, Lawrence County; Robert Klein, 618-943-2189
•Randolph Ag Service, Heyworth, McLean County; Brad Hamilton, 309-473-3256
•Maple City Area Recycling, Monmouth, Warren County; Kevin Lovdahl, 309-734-8423
Since the program began in 1993, more than 1.6 million pounds of agricultural plastics have been recycled, Owens said. “Without this program, it’s likely these materials would have ended up in landfills somewhere,” he explained.