Chemical storage and disposal

Image of a variety of chemicals in their storage containers

Empty agvet chemical containers pose a big problem for farmers and councils. Since its inception in 1999, the drumMUSTER program has been collecting and recycling empty plastic and steel chemical containers.

With thousands of collection sites around Australia there is no reason to have a piles of chemical containers on rural properties or to dump them into landfill.

Plastic agvet containers are usually chipped up, extruded or sold in bulk to be converted into new plastic items like plastic pipe, stakes, benches, wheelie bins and concrete reinforcing bar chairs.

drumMUSTER is a national recycling initiative with more than 780 active collection sites across Australia. The program has collected over 23 million agvet chemical containers, which represents 28 000 tonnes of recyclable material.

Rinse and recycle

There can be up to $10 worth of product left in an agvet chemical container if it hasn’t been properly rinsed. To reap the benefits of using every last drop of product it is important to thoroughly rinse containers and drain the rinse-water into the spray tank. Proper rinsing of containers as soon as they are emptied will mean you get full value out of the purchased product and will have a clean container ready for recycling.

There are two recommended rinsing methods to choose from, pressure rinsing and triple-rinsing. Pressure rinsing involves the use of a special piercing nozzle or probe to spray clean water inside the container, which is then drained into the spray tank.

Triple-rinsing involves filling the empty container to around one-fifth or one-quarter full with water then replacing the lid. Shake, rotate, invert or roll the container vigorously for at least 30 seconds, ensuring the water reaches all inside surfaces. Drain the rinse water into the spray tank then repeat the process two more times.

Wash container lids in a bucket and rinse the outside of the container, especially the thread, to ensure no residue is left. Add this rinse water to the spray tank too.

Containers should be rinsed as soon as they are emptied because chemical residue is more difficult to remove once it dries. After rinsing the container and the lid they must be allowed to dry and then checked for any remaining chemical residue.

Containers need to air-dry for several days, stored in a designated place where they will remain clean and dry until they are taken to a collection depot.

Puncture steel chemical drums by pressing a steel bar or crow bar through the neck of the drum and out the base. Do not puncture 20 L plastic containers.

The rinse water from veterinary chemicals such as drenches should be disposed of on the ground, away from any watercourse, desired vegetation and tree roots.

For more detail on rinsing options:

Read more about chemical storage and surrendering out of date agvet chemicals…