At some point, I think everyone who has used a pesticide has contemplated what to do with the empty container. From home gardeners to the commercial applicators, the disposal of used pesticide containers must be done responsibly to protect yourselves, your loved ones, and the environment (Figure 1).
- A few pointers on the handling of empty containers include:Make sure all the pesticide is out of the container. When making pesticide applications, be sure to triple rinse containers when emptied. Put the rinse into the pesticide tank for application. For small amounts of pesticide, the best way to use it is to apply it at labeled rates consistent with recommendations on the pesticide label (Figure 1). For larger amounts of excess or outdated pesticides, look for the Storage and Disposal statement that is on the pesticide label. If you cannot locate the Pesticide label, contact 1-800-CLEANUP or the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for advice on disposing of the pesticide. The best way to prevent carryover of pesticides is to purchase only as much as you are going to apply.
- Clean the Pesticide Container. As mentioned before, triple rinsing the container into the tank is a good way to help ensure pesticide removal. First, BE SAFE! Make sure to wear goggles, chemical resistant gloves, and any other personal protective equipment required by the pesticide label. Make sure that the outside of the container is free of any pesticide drips. Fill the container about 1/4 full of water, replace the cap, and securely shake or stir until all surfaces are rinsed. Drain the rinsed water into the application tank.
Repeating this procedure two more times helps ensure the container is clean. Pressure-rinsing can also be used on plastic containers. Special nozzles puncture the container and rinse the inside, while the contents drain into the applicator tank. Be sure to have anti-siphon or back-flow protection on any water source when handling pesticides. Never re-purpose a pesticide container!
3. Disposing of the container. Dispose container according to the label instructions. Most large bulk containers can be returned to the supplier. Most small, plastic and glass containers can be recycled. Contact your local state agencies, retailers, or agricultural associations regarding pesticide container collections for recycling.