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Grinding plan pays off for state

Published on April 12, 2012 3:01AM

Last changed on May 10, 2012 5:50AM

Sean Ellis/Capital Press
Gary King checks a pesticide container near Meridian, Idaho, on April 10 to make sure it's empty before putting it in a mobile chipper unit that will grind it into small flakes.

Sean Ellis/Capital Press Gary King checks a pesticide container near Meridian, Idaho, on April 10 to make sure it's empty before putting it in a mobile chipper unit that will grind it into small flakes.

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'Safe and legal method to dispose of their empty containers' offered

By SEAN ELLIS
Capital Press

BOISE -- A state pesticide container disposal program that has proved popular among applicators in Idaho is being expanded to reduce wait times for producers.

Since the Idaho State Department of Agriculture's Container Recycling Operation began in 1994, the department has recycled more than 1.9 million pesticide containers.

Victor Mason II, who manages the free program, said pesticide containers take up vast amounts of landfill space and were sometimes illegally burned or thrown away on private and public property before the program began.

"The container recycling program provides pesticide users with a safe and legal method to dispose of their empty containers," said George Robinson, administrator of ISDA's agriculture resources division.

The service is gaining in popularity every year, Mason said, and 250,000 pesticide containers were recycled last year.

"It's 100 mph all the time to try to keep up with the demand," he said.

Containers are recycled on the grower or applicator's property by a mobile chipper unit that comes to their site and uses a granulator to grind up the containers into small flakes about the size of a fingernail.

The flakes are later recycled into nonfood items such as drain pipes or pallets.

The ISDA has two of the mobile units. One is based in Idaho Falls in Eastern Idaho. The other, based in Lewiston in Northern Idaho, is also being used to service applicators in southwest Idaho. Mason said the department is adding a third chipper unit in the Treasure Valley area in southwest Idaho to increase the efficiency of the program and reduce wait times.

Because the bulk of the money that funds the department's pesticide program comes from product registration fees that are ultimately paid by producers, the program is the department's way of giving something back to growers, ISDA Deputy Director Brian Oakey said.

The program "is an example of a program that takes those fees and provides a service that benefits the industry," he said.

Mason said the ISDA will make as many visits per year as necessary to an applicator's site.

"We're just a phone call away," he said. "Give me a call and we will get a chipper going."

To take advantage of the service, applicators can call the ISDA at 208-332-8628 or 208-332-8605. For more information, visit the department's website at www.agri.idaho.gov



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