- Dealers and manufacturers will sometimes accept the return of unopened containers of recently purchased pesticides.
- If a return cannot be arranged, the pesticide may be donated to someone who is qualified to use it properly. Before donating any pesticide, make sure that you are in compliance with these limitations: the pesticide is not designated RESTRICTED USE on the label; and the donated pesticide must be in its original, fully-labeled container.
- If the pesticide registration was recently canceled, the manufacturer may have set up a recall program to collect the pesticide for disposal. Contact the manufacturer listed on the product label.
- The label may indicate how to dispose of small amounts of the pesticide. Often, excess spray mixture, left-over pesticide, application equipment rinse water, or materials used for spill clean-up (cat litter, sand, lime, etc.) may be applied to a site permitted by the label. Do not exceed the labeled application rate, and follow all directions. If decontamination solutions, cleaners, detergents, ammonia, chlorine bleaches, etc. are used to remove residues, they may need to be diluted before application to prevent soil and plant injury.
- Many states sponsor collection programs for unwanted pesticides. Eligibility rules vary from state to state. Collection programs are usually free, but not all materials are accepted. The pesticide must be in a clearly labeled, structurally sound, commercial container. Some pesticides, including gaseous fumigants and products containing mercury compounds are not acceptable. For more information on available programs, visit EPA pesticide disposal regional contacts or The Pesticide Stewardship Alliance state pesticide disposal map. The National Pesticide Information Center (1-800-858-7378) can put you in touch with your state agency for directions on where to dispose of unwanted pesticides.
- In some states or in some circumstances, it may be necessary to find a commercial disposal company with a permit from the US EPA to dispose of pesticide wastes in accordance with the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). If you need to use a commercial hazardous waste disposal service, contact several firms, compare costs (including transport fees), and ask for and check references. A commercial waste collector will ask you for an inventory of chemicals. All paperwork (manifests) generated by the disposal should be retained permanently because the person who generates a hazardous waste (the pesticide user) is legally and financially responsible for that material for as long as it remains in existence. You cannot assume that disposal of a pesticide (which is classified as hazardous waste by RCRA, see Federal Laws-Pesticide Disposal) at an EPA permitted facility eliminates all further legal responsibility for that product. Therefore, even though destructive disposal (incineration) may cost more than nondestructive disposal (landfilling), there are long-term benefits for choosing the incineration method.
Compiled by Wayne Buhler, PhD.