Safe Disposal of Pesticides

Avoid disposing of pesticides whenever possible:

  • Mix up only enough pesticide for the job.
  • Use up small amounts of excess pesticides — apply them according to the directions on the label.
  • If you cannot use it, ask your neighbors if they have a similar pest control problem and can use it up.

If any remaining pesticide cannot be used properly, safely dispose of pesticides to protect people, pets, and the environment:

  • Follow all disposal instructions on the pesticide label.
  • Check with your local solid waste management authority, environmental agency or health department to find out whether your community has a household hazardous waste collection program or a similar program for getting rid of unwanted, leftover pesticides. These authorities can also inform you of any local requirements for pesticide waste disposal. To identify your local solid waste agency,
    • Search the internet or look in the government section of your phone book under categories such as solid waste, public works, or garbage, trash or refuse collection for your town, city or county.
    • Contact Earth 911 at 1-800-CLEANUP or

Think before disposing of extra pesticides and containers:

  • Never reuse empty pesticide containers. Pesticide residues can contaminate the new contents and cause serious harm.
  • Never pour pesticides down the sink, toilet, sewer, or street drain.
    • Many municipal drinking water and wastewater treatment systems are not equipped to remove all pesticides.
    • If pesticides reach waterways, they can harm fish, plants, and other living things.

State and local pesticide disposal laws may be stricter than the federal requirements on the label. Check with your state or local agencies before disposing of extra pesticides.

Additional Information

  • Household Hazardous Waste

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Safely Disposing Unused Pesticides: Learn About Pesticide Storage And Disposal

Proper disposal of leftover pesticides is as important as correct disposal of prescription drugs. The aim is to prevent misuse, contamination and promote general safety. Unused and leftover pesticides can sometimes be stored and used at a later time, but occasionally storage, once mixed, renders them un-usable at a future date. These toxic chemicals need to go to a treatment facility or hazardous waste collection site. Even empty containers need to be cleaned and disposed of properly, as they still contain small amounts of residue. Learn how to dispose of pesticides in a responsible manner in order to minimize harm.

Why Do We Need Proper Pesticide Storage and Disposal?

Pesticides contain a toxic brew of chemicals that are intended to kill living creatures. As such, they have the capacity to do harm to unintended victims and may be dangerous to children, pets, wild animals, fish and invertebrates. Some chemicals can also do harm to a septic system and are carried far in storm drains and underground streams, spreading their dangers as they go. Careful pesticide disposal methods are keys to confining harm and enhancing the environment.

Disposing unused pesticides by simply

pouring out excess into the drain and then throwing out the container starts a problem that goes through our treatment systems, natural waterways and ambient environment. The poisons are still active when you dispose of them in this manner and they can pollute the entire system as they go through.

The container may only have one millionth of a percent of chemical left in it, but it is still a toxic chemical for small organisms in this amount. Every little bit that is rinsed into our treatment systems adds up incrementally until the entire structure is contaminated. Over time, it gets difficult to manage these increasing levels of contamination and the contagion will spill over outside the structure of disposal that humans use into the natural environment.

How to Dispose of Pesticides

Most municipalities have hazardous waste stations. These collection sites will be able to advise you on correct pesticide storage and disposal. They will also take unused pesticides and destroy them for you in a safe manner. This is the easiest manner of disposing unused pesticides.

You will need to have the chemicals in their original container with the manufacturer’s label of ingredients. Make sure the items are secured carefully in your vehicle and all lids are firmly closed during transport.

Getting Rid of Leftover Pesticides Safely

If your area doesn’t have a convenient hazardous waste collection site, you can store it in a cool dark location, tightly closed until you can get to one. If the chemical is gone, you can clean out the container for disposal by following these steps:

Rinse the container 3 times and use the mixture in a sprayer on areas listed as safe on the label.
Follow the application precautions and methods.
If you absolutely cannot use any of the listed pesticide disposal methods, try asking a neighbor or friend if they have the pests listed on the container and can use up any solution.

It is important to your health and the health of the planet that safe means are used when getting rid of leftover pesticides. These methods will protect you and your family as well as the marvelous world in which we live.

11 Disposal of unused pesticide and empty pesticide containers

In a well planned spraying operation the amount of pesticide solution required for the job should have been worked out carefully so that there is little or no pesticide left over.
Pesticides are poisonous and it is bad for the environment and a danger to people and other animals to leave them lying around. Most of the pesticides used in environmental health work will not last very long after they have been mixed with water. This means that preparing too much spray is a waste of money and effort because the pesticide will not be effective if it is used later.

Unused pesticide

If there is any pesticide left over at the end of a spraying operation then it is important that it be disposed of correctly. This means getting rid of the chemical so that it has no harmful effect on the environment, including people and their pets.

Note: Rather than have pesticide left over, go back over the job and use up the small amount that may be leftover, particularly if the pesticide is being used on weeds or the outside of a building for insects.
If it is not possible to use up all the mixed pesticide, then the following steps should be taken to get rid of leftover pesticide safely:

  1. If further spraying is going to take place the next day then use any left over pesticide on that job. However if no more spraying is planned then follow the procedure as below.
  2. Choose a place well away from community buildings and meeting/play areas, any streams, water supply areas, or low-lying areas where water may collect or there may be a high water table. Near the storage shed or at the rubbish tip may be appropriate.
  3. Dig a hole 50 cm deep.
  4. Cover the bottom of the pit with a 25 to 40 mm layer of hydrated lime. Pour the unwanted pesticide into the hole.
  5. Cover with soil.

Fig. 5.38: Unused pesticides must always be disposed of safely.
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Empty pesticide containers

Empty pesticide containers must also be disposed of so that they cannot cause any possible danger to the environment, including people.
The best place to dispose of empty pesticide containers is at the community’s rubbish tip.

  1. These are the correct ways to dispose of empty pesticide containers:
    All glass, metal or plastic containers should be rinsed out with water at least 3 times.
    The wash-water should, of course, be disposed of correctly so that it does not become a danger. However, if the container is emptied as the spray solution is mixed, the wash-water can be added to the spray solution. The wash-water should have little effect on the strength of the solution. Paper packets cannot be rinsed out.
  2. The lids of all containers should be removed before disposal.
  3. Glass or plastic containers must be buried deep in an isolated area away from water supplies.
    If it is safe to do so, it is a good idea to break glass containers before disposal. Plastic containers must be punched with holes so that they cannot be used to carry water.
  4. Glass or plastic pesticide containers which cannot be broken or punched with holes must never be left around in case people use them for some other purpose.
  5. Each metal container should be made unusable by punching holes in the top and bottom and then crushing it. Flattened containers are easier to bury or dispose of at the tip.
    Never burn pesticide containers because they may give off poisonous gases. Never use these containers or any pesticide treated materials, such as wood, on fires.

Fig. 5.39: Empty pesticide containers must be disposed of safely.
If the EHP has any worries about the disposal of leftover pesticides or empty pesticide containers then he/she should contact the EHP supervisor or an EHO.

Pests in Gardens and Landscapes: Quick Tips

Garden Chemicals: Safe Use & Disposal

Published 9/18

Read more and see videos on this topic

Correctly ID pests before applying a pesticide.

Personal protective equipment.

Don’t pour pesticides down storm drains!

Pesticides (insecticides, herbicides, fungicides, etc.) are designed to be toxic to the pests they target. When used properly, pesticides can protect your plants or home from damage. However, when the label instructions aren’t followed correctly, plant injury may occur, pests may not be controlled, human health may be impaired, and pesticides may contribute to soil, air, or water pollution. Fertilizer products may also have negative environmental impacts when they get into waterways.

Are pesticides necessary to control pests?

  • Use pesticides only when nonchemical methods are ineffective, and pests are reaching intolerable levels, then choose the least toxic, most effective product.
  • Contact your local UC Master Gardener or Cooperative Extension office for help identifying your pest or an alternative pest control method.

If you must use garden chemicals:

  • Select least toxic products that target your pest. Examples include bait stations, insecticidal soaps and oils, and microbial insecticides such as Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt).
  • Buy ready-to-use products when possible, as you don’t have to measure and mix them.
  • Don’t water after applying garden chemicals unless the label tells you to. Never let pesticide or fertilizer run off into storm drains.
  • Avoid applying chemicals outdoors when rain is forecast or when it is windy.
  • Don’t apply pesticides or fertilizers on paved surfaces.

When using and storing garden chemicals:

  • Always wear shoes, a long-sleeved shirt, pants, eye protection, and any other equipment listed on the product label.
  • Properly measure concentrated formulations of pesticides. Keep all measuring tools for the garden separate from those used for food.
  • Never apply more product than the amount listed on the label.
  • Always keep chemicals in their original container and store them tightly capped in a locked cabinet out of the reach of children and pets.

For help in an emergency, call the California Poison Control System at 1-800-222-1222. Visit for more information.

Disposing of pesticides and fertilizers:

  • If you can’t use up your pesticides and fertilizers, consider giving them away.
  • Sewage treatment plants aren’t designed to remove all toxic chemicals from wastewater. Pouring garden chemicals into a storm drain, down the sink, or into the toilet pollutes water and is against the law!
  • The only allowable way to dispose of pesticides is to use them up according to label directions, or to take them to a household hazardous waste site.

For the Household Hazardous Waste Disposal site nearest you, call 1-800-CLEANUP (1-800-253-2687) or visit for more information.

Read more about Pesticides: Safe and Effective Use in the Home and Landscape.

Minimize the use of pesticides that pollute our waterways. Use nonchemical alternatives or less toxic pesticide products whenever possible. Read product labels carefully and follow instructions on proper use, storage, and disposal.

How to Dispose of Chemicals Safely

You don’t need us to tell you of the importance of appropriate safety measures in a laboratory, and when dealing with chemicals that are harmful to both your own health and the wider environment, they need to be treated and disposed of in the appropriate manner.

In this article, we’ll explore the correct way to dispose of chemicals, the different categories of hazardous waste, identifying and reducing potential fire hazards, and the importance of risk assessment.

Quick Navigation

  • Categories of hazardous waste
  • Methods of Disposal
  • Hazardous Waste Regulations
  • Potential Fire Hazards
  • Risk Assessment

Categories of hazardous waste

There are many different types of hazardous waste. Some categories have their own subcategories of waste, while other types might fall into certain hazardous waste categories because they display specific characteristics (such as ignitability, corrosivity, reactivity, toxicity). Additionally, some chemical products can be hazardous after they’ve been disposed of.

Listed Wastes

These can be identified in a series of different lists.

  • F-List

Wastes created as a result of common manufacturing and industrial processes, known as ‘non-specific source waste’ due to their production in multiple industries.

  • K-List

Wastes created from specific industries such as petroleum refining or pesticide manufacturing, also known as ‘source-specific wastes’.

  • Pi-List and U-List

Wastes created by commercial chemical products being discarded in their unused form which become hazardous when thrown away.

Characterised Waste

These comprise waste materials which meet one or more of the characteristics of hazardous waste.

  • Ignitability

Can the waste create fire in certain conditions, is it spontaneously combustible, or have a flash point less than 60°C?

  • Corrosivity

Can it corrode metallic containers? If the pH level is 2 and under or 12.5 and above, then it should be considered hazardous.

  • Reactivity

Unstable materials that can cause explosions, toxic fumes, gases or vapours when heated, compressed or mixed with water.

  • Toxicity

When certain materials are disposed of, the toxicity can be absorbed into the ground, contaminating water as a result.

Universal Waste

Waste caused by household items, such as batteries, lamps and equipment containing mercury.

Mixed Waste

Waste that contains both radioactive and hazardous components, generated by medical, pharmaceutical, nuclear and other energy industries.

Methods of Disposal

The improper disposal of chemicals is forbidden by law, so it’s important to adhere to correct procedures as strictly as possible.

It may be a case that you need to wash chemicals down the drain with plenty of water. This can apply to the following:

  • Concentrated and diluted acids and alkalis
  • Harmless soluble inorganic salts
  • Alcohols containing salts
  • Hypochlorite solutions
  • Fine silica and alumina

Any material appearing on the Red List should, under no circumstances, be washed down a drain.

The following materials should be disposed of via incineration:

  • All organic solvents
  • Soluble organic waste
  • Paraffin and mineral oil

Controlled waste – waste that’s suitable for refuse collection from the local authority – can, for the most part, be placed in your everyday waste bin. However, your lab must also have a container for certain other items, such as broken glassware, sharp objects and dirty samples or other items contaminated with chemicals.

Hazardous waste regulations

Ensure you understand the properties of hazardous waste. If you are involved in producing, transporting or receiving hazardous waste then you are responsible for it as outlined by Hazardous Waste Regulations.

Potential Fire Hazards

In a lab environment, potential fire hazards can be numerous, so it’s important to treat and handle combustibles in the appropriate manner. Consider limiting superfluous materials in the lab, and where you can, keep these materials from heat sources and store them at least 18 inches below the ceiling.

Ensure these items are appropriately labelled and stored in the correct cabinets. Do not allow them to be kept on benches or on incorrect shelving, and when pouring such liquids with a low flash point from a large container, ground the container to minimise the development of static charge.

Risk Assessment

When using chemicals at work, you are required by law to control their usage by assessing the risks, therefore implementing and maintaining effective control measures. These measures must be specified in writing and fully implemented to prevent accidents in the workplace.

Consider when spills or splashes are likely to occur, when substances might be inhaled, swallowed or absorbed by the skin, and how likely is the potential occurrence of exposure.

Staying safe in a laboratory is of the utmost importance to us. Looking to optimise your environment? For more information about our bespoke fitted labs, visit our homepage or call our team on 01223 894 833.

Need to dispose chemicals

Chemicals, like other types of waste, can be harmful to human health or to the environment, either immediately or over an extended period of time. Chemical waste, like other hazardous waste need to be treated, disposed of, or recycled, safely. Hazardous wastes, including chemical waste, fall into one of three broad categories, those that are: Always hazardous – for example, lead acid batteries or fluorescent tubes. Never hazardous – for example edible oil, or, May, or may not, be hazardous and need to be assessed for example, ink or paint. Some chemicals might also be fire hazards; these include petrol and paint thinners. When storing hazardous wastes the presence of other materials like packaging and sawdust can also be a serious hazard if not properly managed as they will help to spread fire rapidly.

Businesses working with and recycling waste materials must identify the hazards and make a proper assessment of the risks. In particular there must be safe working practices for dealing with the hazardous waste, to ensure that it is stored, handled and transported correctly. Waste-treatment sites handling chemicals must also prevent accidents arising from the unintentional or inadequately planned mixing of incompatible chemicals, or from the disposal of unstable chemicals. You can find information on the precautions and tests that can be carried out to determine the compatibility of such substances.

Understanding the properties of hazardous waste and how to handle and dispose of it correctly is essential. If you produce, transport, or receive hazardous waste you will have responsibilities under the Hazardous Waste Regulations. You can obtain more information on identifying hazardous waste and the Hazardous Waste Regulations from the Environment Agency website.

In some circumstances businesses involved in waste and recycling activities may have obligations under REACH, especially where waste substances are being recovered for re-use. For more information see REACH Guidance on waste and recovered substances.

See HSE’s waste and recycling website for general advice and guidance on how to prevent injury and illness in the waste management and recycling industry.

Waste and chemical disposal

‘Waste’ is made up of general waste, such as household waste, and regulated waste which requires a higher level of management to prevent harm to the environment or human health.

We are working with industry and the community to develop a new, industry-led waste strategy. The review of the current strategy is driven by the repeal of the industry waste levy.

If you suspect someone of conducting unlicensed waste transport, storage, disposal or recycling activities please contact the Community Response Pollution Hotline on 1300 130 372, or email [email protected] with as much of the following information as possible:

  • name of alleged offender or business name
  • contact details of alleged offender (phone, email, website, number plate)
  • location of suspected illegal waste activity
  • type of suspected illegal waste activity
  • your contact details (phone, name, email).

Reports can be made anonymously.

Disposing of chemicals and containers

When disposing of chemicals and containers:

  • check the label for advice on disposal of chemicals or containers
  • triple rinse empty containers to remove all traces of the chemical
  • uncap, puncture and crush all rinsed containers—do not burn them
  • ask your local government authority about collection requirements.

The chosen disposal site should:

  • have a depth between 50cm and 1m
  • be located to avoid contaminating homes, underground water, surface water, crops or livestock
  • be level, preferably with a clay liner and have lime spread across the bottom
  • have a heavy duty plastic pit liner where there is risk that chemicals may leak

Drums, other packages and containers marked ‘returnable’ should be returned to the supplier.

DrumMuster provides more information about drum disposal.

Find out more about:

  • management of regulated wastes—guidelines and information sheets about disposal
  • environmentally relevant activities (ERAs)—waste disposal and recovery ERAs
  • Waste transport certificates—for waste handling businesses.

Relation information

  • Penalty infringement notices—fines may be issued for illegal dumping of waste
  • Littering and illegal dumping

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