Our Focus on Stewardship Activities
The Ag Container Recycling Council (ACRC) is the oldest continuously operated voluntary industry funded product stewardship program in the nation. The fact that ninety-five percent of the pesticide manufacturing industry has continuously supported significant levels of funding for more than twenty years is testimony to its success. ACRC recognition of supply chain stakeholder interdependence lead to institution of a product stewardship program based on coalition building that serves as a model for other industries to emulate. Exemplary coalition building and maintenance has resulted in pesticide containers being the most highly recycled plastic package in the country.
ACRC stewardship of containers does not end with collection. To ensure that the collected plastic is handled safely during processing, and used only in end uses that have minimal contact with humans, the ACRC audits all processing and end use manufacturing facilities for compliance with all applicable health, safety and environmental regulations. In addition, the ACRC Technical committee approves end uses on a case by case basis.
The ACRC continues to evaluate ways to make recycling of pesticide containers easier and more convenient. Recognizing that the requirement to remove paper labels is a deterrent to recycling, the ACRC Technical Committee identified and evaluated plastic label/adhesive alternatives that would be recyclable, eliminate yield loss to the recycler, and increase the value of the recovered plastic. The ACRC has recommended to all member companies that they consider usage of this label/adhesive combination.
Industry product stewardship initiatives are not limited to the recycling of non-refillable containers. Adhering to the principals of the waste hierarchy, pesticide manufacturers have adopted a multi-pronged approach to reducing product and packaging needs. First, ongoing research and development leads to the formulation of new chemistries that have vastly improved efficacy; i.e. far less pesticide is required to protect crops on far more acres of cropland. This simultaneously results in less packaging being required to meet crop protection needs. Second, the industry encourages applicator/grower use of refillable containers. In addition to the obvious benefits of re-use, these containers are larger and able to deliver more product per unit of packaging. Lastly, new initiatives to replace liquid pesticides with solid powders will lead to lower packaging requirements in the near future.