What You Need to Know about Disposing of a Pesticide

Pesticide users must properly dispose of pesticide wastes, such as unused chemicals and pesticide containers. Improperly disposed pesticide wastes can create serious hazards for the environment.
What You Need to Know about Disposing of a Pesticide - Articles


Do's and don'ts

Read the label! Follow the disposal directions on the label for more specific or special requirements.

Remember that state and local laws for disposal may be more restrictive than directions on the label. Check with your local solid waste authority, the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, or the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection before disposing of leftover pesticides and recycling pesticide containers.

NEVER pour pesticides down the drain, on the ground, or in a storm sewer.

Unless directed by the pesticide label, do not bury or burn pesticides and/or pesticide containers.

Three types of pesticide wastes that require proper disposal are:

  • Unused pesticides that remain in the original container
  • Pesticide mixtures that are left unused after an application
  • Empty pesticide containers

If possible, dispose of unused pesticide in its original container


CHEMSWEEP is a waste pesticide collection program designed to give agricultural and other operations that use pesticides a way to dispose of old, unusable, or unwanted pesticide products.

At no cost up to 2,000 pounds, participants can legally dispose of waste pesticides.

To participate, contact the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture at 717-772-5231 or visit the CHEMSWEEP website.

For homeowners, some communities have household hazardous waste (HHW) collections; however, not all may accept pesticide products. Contact your local solid waste authority.

Dispose of unused pesticide mixtures

To avoid the problem of excess mixture, carefully calculate and measure the amount of pesticide required for the application.

After application, if excess mixture remains, it should be applied according to label directions to your property.

Never store diluted pesticides in sprayers. Not only can this damage the sprayer, but more important, this can lead to a future misapplication because you may not correctly remember the type of unused product that remains in the sprayer.

Dispose of empty pesticide containers

When the pesticide product has been completely used from its original container, empty drums, bottles, or cans must be triple-rinsed. In addition, empty paper and plastic bags should be shaken clean and triple-rinsed before disposal. Remember to puncture holes in containers to make sure they cannot be reused for any other purpose.

To be recycled, containers must be free of any pesticide residue inside and outside.

Empty, triple-rinsed pesticide containers and bags can possibly be recycled with your local recycling program, depending on local ordinances.

To find local HHW collection sites, go to www.depweb.state.pa.us and type "HHW" into the search. The HHW page will have a link to the upcoming scheduled collection programs.

Triple-rinsing pesticide containers

Triple-Rinse Process

Triple-rinse immediately after last application or the pesticide product may become difficult to remove.

For More Information

Penn State Pesticide Education Program
222 Special Services Building
University Park, PA 16802
Email: pesticide@psu.edu

Updated by the Penn State Pesticide Education Program. Original text prepared by Richard H. Johnson Jr., former extension associate.