Disposing of Excess or Old Pesticides
The Right Way!
Outreach Coordinator, UGA Center for Urban Agriculture
Most certified pesticide applicators eventually run into a situation where they have old or excess pesticides that they no longer use. How can commercial pesticide applicators properly dispose of these pesticides?
I spoke with Steve Cole, Georgia Department of Agriculture and got some tips:
1. First, do not dispose of these pesticides in an illegal or unsafe way. Do not pour them into storm drains and other drains, put them into trash cans, or use other similar disposal methods. These disposal systems do not have the ability to degrade these pesticides properly and the pesticide can quickly put people and the environment at risk. This may also cause a liability problem for you personally or your company.
2. The best method to dispose of old or unwanted pesticides is by using it per label directions. Be careful to use it on a labeled crop, at the labeled rate with all recommended precautions. Even with an old pesticide that may not be effective, follow the label! Just because a pesticide is old and perhaps ineffective, does not mean it is not still toxic. Follow all label precautions when applying any pesticide!
Apply the pesticide in a place where it is least likely to impact people and the environment. Consider that though you must use the pesticide per the label, you do not necessarily have to use the pesticide for the purpose or location for which you bought it. For instance, you may have bought a pesticide for use inside a structure. It may not make sense to apply the pesticide inside just to get rid of it. The same pesticide may also be labeled for use outside in a field, forest, lawn, landscape etc. When disposing of pesticides by applying them, select a location where there will be less risk to people or the environment.
3. If the pesticide is not too old, share it with someone who could use the pesticide legally. The exception to this would be restricted use pesticides (RUPs). Do not share RUPs with someone else, but rather use them yourself. If you give an RUP to another person and they use it incorrectly, you may be liable since the pesticide was purchased under your license number.
When sharing a pesticide consider that:
- The pesticide must remain in the original container and with the label.
- The user must follow all label directions. Select a pesticide applicator to receive the pesticide that will be able to legitimately use the chemical according to the label.
4. Certain companies dispose of pesticides for a fee. There will usually be a set-up fee and a per pound fee. If you must go this route, try to gather all your un-needed pesticides at one time so that you pay only one set-up fee. The company may also be able to dispose of other unwanted chemicals for you.
5. The GA Department of Agriculture realized the need for pesticide disposal and implemented a very successful pesticide disposal program called the GA Clean Days. From its inception through 2008 the GA Clean Days disposed of more than 2 million pounds of pesticides! Unfortunately, the program has not been funded for the past three years. Steve hopes that the program will be funded again in the future. Interested individuals may want to contact their legislators to express an interest in seeing the program begin again. For more information on GA Clean days or other pesticide issues, contact Steve Cole at Stephen.Cole@agr.georgia.gov.
6. Reduce the need to dispose of pesticides by following these tips:
· Buy only the amount of pesticide you will use quickly.
· Use pesticides before they get old. Use your oldest stock first so that none of your pesticides become too old to use.
· Proper handling and storage, per label directions, may lengthen the effective life of the pesticide.
- Using unwanted pesticides per label directions is usually the best disposal method, even if you think they will not be effective.
- Read the pesticide label to select a place to apply the pesticide that is both legal and safe for people and the environment.
- Apply the pesticide to this site following all label directions and precautions including any required personal protection equipment and posting.
For further information on pesticide disposal
Georgia Department of Agriculture – (800) 282-5852
Hazardous Waste Division, Georgia Environmental Protection Division – (404) 657-8831 (agricultural) or (404) 362-2537 (household)
EPA Hazardous Waste Hotline (Superfund) - (800) 424-9346
Please share this information with others in the landscape & turf industry. For more information:
Call your local Extension Agent at (800) ASK-UGA1 or locate your local Extension Office at http://www.caes.uga.edu/extension/statewide.cfm
Pest Management Handbook (Follow all label recommendations when using any pesticide) - www.ent.uga.edu/pmh/
For more Landscape Alerts please visit the Georgia Center for Urban Agriculture