2 February 1996

Returnable container – this season

FARMERS will see a standardised, returnable pesticide container on the market for the first time this season, as agrochemical makers respond to UK and EU legislation to cut packaging waste.

The LinkPak, developed by Ciba over the past 10 years, will be an option for eight pesticides from six manufacturers, says Ciba. The company hopes up to 20% of Tilt sales will be in LinkPaks in 1996.

Each pack has a special dry-coupling to prevent spills during transfer. That makes it "20 times cleaner" than conventional systems, claims applications manager Tom Robinson. Emptying takes just 10 seconds.

Used containers are returned – via the distributor – for refilling by the maker. That cuts packaging waste and saves farmers the "hassle" of rinsing and disposal, says Richard Trow-Smith of the British Agrochemicals Association. He sees it as a "useful first step" towards complying with new EU legislation requiring the recovery of 50-65% of packaging waste and recycling of 25-45% by 2001.

Ideally LinkPaks need using four or five times to be cost effective, says Cibas Joe Oakes.

Although only suitable for emulsifiable concentrates, other manufacturers are developing approaches for other formulations, he notes.

Over 60,000 litres of pesticides have already been farm-tested through LinkPaks on about 200 farms. Mr Robinson hopes another 500-1000 farmers will adopt the system this season.

&#8226 Fitting a £50 LinkPak coupling to the sprayer takes no more than half an hour (see machinery, p55). &#42

Charles Abel