Brazilian Program Results in 90% Recycling of Agrochemical Packaging


Thanks to an environmental law, effective regulatory and recycling systems, and the cooperation of the agricultural industry, Brazil has become a world leader when it comes to recycling the wide variety of plastic and cardboard containers used to store agrochemicals.
Established in December 2001, the country’s non-profit National Institute for Processing Empty Containers (INPEV) has had remarkable success in implementing a shared system of responsibility for collecting, recycling and disposing of agrochemical packaging– from cardboard and plastic drums to cement containers and fuel oil packages.
Up to now, financed 17% by recycling revenue and 83% by the agrochemical industry, the program is costing Brazil R$50 million (~$25.9 million) a year. That’s due to change. Aiming to make it self-sufficient by 2015, Brazil has opened a facility that can produce new, certified agrochemical packages from recycled plastic sourced from used packages–the first of its kind in the world– and earned international certification for the products.

Closing the Production-Consumption-Disposal Loop
According to an INEP study Brazil is unique among countries in that it recycles 90% of all plastic and cardboard agrochemical containers, making it a world leader. Germany and the US, by contrast, had 65% and 20% recycling rates for these types of containers.
Research studies have shown that 95% of the 28,700 tons of agrochemical containers traded can be recycled, according to INEP, as long as they are rinsed properly.
Some 24,000 tons of packaging– 80% of all cardboard packages and 94% of all plastic packages– were collected and safely disposed of under the program in 2008. Those that cannot be or have not been rinsed are forwarded for incineration to licensed incinerator operators.
Three hundred ninety nine recycling centers in 25 states collect used agrochemical packaging from a network of 2,900 cooperatives and distributors. Eight recycling companies recover rinsed and returned containers and use them to produce 16 different products.

An independent journalist, researcher and writer, my work roams across the nexus where ecology, technology, political economy and sociology intersect and overlap. The lifelong quest for knowledge of the world and self -- not to mention gainful employment -- has led me near and far afield, from Europe, across the Asia-Pacific, Middle East and Africa and back home to the Americas. LinkedIn: andrew burger Google+: Andrew B Email:

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