Pesticides: Code of practice for using plant protection products (PB11090)

5.6 How to dispose of waste pesticide containers

Do not reuse an empty pesticide container for any purpose unless:

  • it is specifically designed to be returned and refilled and you are doing so in line with the label instructions; or
  • you are filling it with an identical pesticide product transferred from a damaged container.

The product label will state whether you should rinse the container after emptying it.

Before disposing of a non-returnable container, make sure it is completely empty.

If you can, containers for products which are concentrates and are applied as a solution should be thoroughly rinsed before being disposed of.

Containers for ready-to-use formulations or products not applied as a solution are normally not rinsed after emptying.

Containers for hydrogen cyanide gassing powders or aluminium, magnesium or zinc phosphides must never be rinsed or cleaned.

Before disposing of rigid, non-returnable containers, you should always thoroughly rinse them in line with the label instructions.

If there are no instructions, you should:

  • use purpose-made container-rinsing equipment in line with the manufacturer’s instructions (for example, pressure rinsing devices forming part of many sprayer induction bowls); or
  • rinse containers by hand at least three times (or until the container is visibly clean) with clean water. Add the rinsings to the spray solution.

You may also be able to rinse some types of flexible packaging designed for solid pesticides which are applied as a solution, depending on the material and design of these packs. You should always rinse containers immediately after emptying them, once you have allowed the product to drain fully into the equipment that is applying it. You should also rinse contaminated closures (caps and seals) and any contamination on the outside of containers. All rinsings should be added to the spray solution.

If, for any reason, you have container rinsings which you cannot add to the application equipment (for example, if you are not applying the pesticide as a spray or dipping solution), you should collect the contaminated rinsings in a suitable, labelled container, and store it in a safe place. You should then dispose of the rinsings in line with the guidance given in paragraph 5.5.

Containers which are not suitable for rinsing (for example, paper sacks and cardboard cartons) and those containing products which are either ready-to-use or not applied as a solution, are normally emptied completely but not rinsed. These will have the phrase ‘Empty container completely and dispose of safely’ on the label. You should handle and store these empty containers as if they still contained the pesticide, and you should dispose of them through a licensed waste-disposal contractor.

You must not rinse or clean empty containers which hydrogen cyanide gassing powders or aluminium, magnesium or zinc phosphides have been supplied in or kept in because of the dangerous gases they give off when they come into contact with moisture. You should handle and store these empty containers as if they still contained the pesticide and you should dispose of them through a licensed waste-disposal contractor.

Firmly replace caps on containers immediately after rinsing and draining them into the equipment used for applying pesticide. Put the rinsed foil seal inside the container. Store the rinsed and drained containers upright in a secure, weatherproof area away from stored pesticides (either in a separate store or a separate part of your chemical store), until you can dispose of them.

You can get more guidance on cleaning containers on the Voluntary Initiative website (www.voluntaryinitiative.org.uk/Content?agr).

You can dispose of rinsed pesticide containers in the following ways:

  • Pass them on to a licensed waste-disposal contractor;
  • Take them to a licensed waste-disposal or waste-recovery site, after checking whether the site will accept rinsed containers;
  • Burn them only in an incinerator licensed by your local authority or the Environment Agency. Contact your local Environment Agency office for more information.

Containers that have been thoroughly rinsed and drained will generally be accepted at licensed waste-disposal sites as long as the conditions of the site operator’s licence allow this. The local Environment Agency office can give you details of these sites.

Do not use empty pesticide containers or contaminated pallets for transporting food or animal feed.

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