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April 30, 2012

Recycling of Empty Seed Bags Being Studied in Brazil

For a number of years, farmers in Brazil have been recycling their empty containers of agricultural chemicals such as herbicides, insecticides, and fungicides in order to avoid contamination of the soil or air through either burial or incineration. Now there is a proposal to do the same thing with empty bags of corn and cotton seed. Corn and cotton seed are routinely treated with insecticides or fungicides, so the empty bags could be classified as toxic waste.

The National Institute for the Processing of Empty Containers (Inpev) has initiated a study in seven regions of Brazil to look at the feasibility of recycling empty seed bags as well as chemical containers. These studies are being conducted in association with the Sao Paulo Association of Seed Producers (Apps) and in Rio Grande do Sul with the Center for the Recycling of Empty Agrichemical Containers (Cimbalagens), which is located in Passo Fundo. These studies were started in February of 2012 with the planting of the safrinha corn crop and they will continue until February 2013.

A system is already in place for the collection of empty chemical containers so there would not be much more additional work for the farmers to bring along the empty seed bags as well.

In the Passo Fundo region of Rio Grande do Sul there are 110 municipalities that plant 250,000 hectares of corn. The planting rate is generally one bag of corn seed per hectare, so there would be 250,000 empty bags to recycle.

During the growing season that is just ending, Inpev is expecting to recycle 900 tons of empty chemical containers and they would like to complete the circle by recycling empty seed bags as well.