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Visit our new site Pesticidewise.com for more help on spraying pesticides with a knapsack sprayer. Review our advice on disposal of pesticide packs.

 


Disposal of empty crop protection product (pesticide) containers

N.B. This is a text only version of the training module "Disposal of empty crop protection (pesticide) containers" which is also available to download as a PowerPoint presentation or view as a Flash Movie


Disposal of Empty Crop Protection Product (pesticide) Containers

Mixing and preparing undiluted products: Summary

  • Always follow high hygiene standards when working with crop protection products.
  • Emptied containers must be triple rinsed unless using specific mechanised rinsing equipment.
  • The rinsate should be used as part of the spray solution.
  • Washed containers should be punctured to stop potential reuse.
  • Dispose of washed containers following local best practice.
  • If burying or burning is allowed ensure that this does not cause a risk to the environment, humans or livestock.

Disposal of empty containers

Don't forget the empties.....

Inappropriate disposal of empty crop protection product containers can lead to health risks for both humans and livestock as well as causing environmental pollution.

In many countries the disposal of these containers is governed by laws. Not following these laws can be a criminal offence.

Most containers are made of plastics although there are still some products sold in glass or metal containers.

Packaging for disposal may include both the product containers and an outer container, such as a cardboard, used to package together several CPP containers.

Packaging should be designed to:-

  • Reduce the amount of packaging waste
  • Minimise handling risks through intelligent design (wide neck, crimped off handles, not too heavy, closed transfer systems).
  • Have smooth internal surface to facilitate cleaning (inert and not absorbing)
  • Be robust and durable

Formulations are also available to minimise packaging waste, such as use of tablets, water soluble sachets, refillable containers.

The disposal of empty pesticide containers is a two step process:–

  1. Ensure the container is clean, by triple rinsing.
  2. Dispose of the clean container in a way that follows local laws and/or best practice guidelines.

If there is a time gap between steps 1 and 2 then the container should be kept securely to avoid potential misuse.

Always maintain high standards of personal hygiene when cleaning and handling pesticide containers.

Rinsing containers

There are three types of system employed to rinse emptied containers. Manual rinsing is typically used by knapsack sprayer operators whilst, the other methods are normally associated with tractor powered sprayers:-

  • Manual rinsing. (See next section below) 
  • Pressure rinsing. A hose fitted with a spike - containing a nozzle - punctures the bottom of the container forcing water into the container, washing into the spray tank or sprayer mixing bowl.
  • Integrated rinsing. The rinsing mechanism is usually built onto the sprayer‘s induction bowl or closed transfer system but can be an independent system. This fast, safe way washes containers and minimises the risk of spills. Most popular mechanised cleaning method.

Manual Triple Rinsing of Containers

Diagram of steps A to D; triple rinsing of used crop protection product containers;  (8Kb GIF).
Steps A to D; triple rinsing of used crop protection product containers.

 

A. Drain the container

B. Add clean water 25-30% of container capacity

C. Replace cap firmly and shake vigourously for at least 30 seconds

D. Empty rinsings into spray tank and drain container for 30 seconds

E. Spray the rinsings

Repeat steps B-D at least twice more (until rinse water is clear)
Wear suitable protective clothing when rinsing containers.

Comply with local legislation where relevant

 

 

Reducing the hazard of empty pesticide containers

 It is important to reduce the hazard of empty pesticide containers before disposal.  This should be done whenever a container is emptied during mixing, and is known as triple rinsing. The procedure to follow for triple rinsing is:

A. Drain the remaining pesticide from the container for at least 30 seconds into the sprayer tank.

B. Add clean water to the empty container until it is approximately one quarter full.

Step B: Add clean water to emptied CPP containers (8Kb JPEG)
Step B: Add clean water to emptied CPP containers.

C. Replace the container cap securely, then shake the container for about 30 seconds, making sure that all the inner surfaces of the container are well rinsed (it is recommended to vary the shaking movement i.e. side to side, up and down, circular motion etc). Large containers may need to be rotated or rolled.

Step C: Replace cap and shake container. Add washings to sprayers and repeat twice more (11Kb JPEG)
Step C: Replace cap and shake container. Add washings to sprayers and repeat twice more (11Kb JPEG)

D. Remove the cap and empty the rinsings into the sprayer tank, so that it forms part of the spray mix.  Allow it to drain for at least 30 seconds.

E. Repeat steps A-D twice more.  If the rinse water is still coloured or milky after three rinses, then repeat the rinsing process until the rinse water is clear

Store emptied, cleaned containers with tightened caps upright in secure area ready for disposal (8Kb JPEG)
Store emptied, cleaned containers with tightened caps upright in secure area ready for disposal

A study by ARC Gembloux showed that triple rinsing containers with 30% water volume reduced chemical residues 120 times more efficiently compared with double rinsing with 20% water volume. Rinsing water volume is more important that the amount of time taken shaking the container.

Studies have shown that triple rinsing not only saves product but leaves the containers clean.

Thorough manual triple rinsing will remove 99.99% of chemical residues (ECPA 2006).

Rinsing non solid packaging (normally associated with dry formulations) is harder and has a higher risk of spillages due to the flimsy nature of the packaging.

Studies have shown that triple rinsing not only saves product but leaves the containers clean.

Thorough manual triple rinsing will remove 99.99% of chemical residues (ECPA 2006).

Rinsing non solid packaging (normally associated with dry formulations) is harder and has a higher risk of spillages due to the flimsy nature of the packaging.

Disposal of empty containers

Wherever possible empty, washed containers should be disposed of through collection and recycling schemes.

Collected containers can be either:-

  • Recycled to make plastic products
  • Used for power generation (fuel stock for cement kilns or power station)
  • Destroyed in a high temperature incinerator (temperatures above 900degrees C are required to ensure efficient burning

In some countries, washed containers can be disposed of with domestic waste collections.

If this is the case all containers must be punctured to avoid reuse.

The CropLife International estimate for the quantity of pesticide containers distributed in 2005 is 190,000 tonnes.

Of this 190,000 around 33,000 tonnes are collected (17.3%).

The percent of containers collected varies from country to country with high percentages in countries that have legal requirements for the industry to take control of its waste, Australia, Brazil, Canada, France.

Plastic pesticide container waste constitutes 4% of plastic waste derived from farms.

Decision making flow chart for disposal of empty crop protection containers (13Kb GIF)
Decision making flow chart for disposal of empty crop protection containers

On farm disposal

This is no longer a recommended method of disposal (FAO code of conduct guidelines) but where no collection schemes are operating, empty washed containers can be burnt or buried following local guidelines if local laws permit.

 

  • Burn away from people, livestock and buildings, avoid any smoke.
  • Bury the ash in a deep pit.
  • Bury containers in a deep pit away from wells and surface water
Diagram of disposal methods (5Kb GIF)
Diagram of disposal methods

Burying washed empty containers on farm, if the Law permits –

  • Seek advice from local authorities
  • Select a site for the pit that is away from water courses and is not going to cause seepage into ground and surface and sources of drinking water
  • Burial site must be deep enough to ensure animal and human activities will not uncover the buried waste, minimum of 50cm of soil
  • The bottom of the burial pit must be at least 2m above the ground water level. Do not bury in areas prone to flooding
  • Compress the empty containers as much as possible before burial.
  • Cover layers of contaminated waste with bio-degradable household waste to assist biological degradation
  • The burial pit area must be fenced off and clearly signed.
  • Once the pit is full, cover with soil and plant bushes to avoid the rapid drainage of rain water.

DO -

  • Triple rinse containers adding rinsate to the spray tank.
  • Wear appropriate protective clothing at all times.
  • Maintain high levels of personal hygiene.
  • Pierce or damage containers so that they can not be reused.
  • Dispose of containers following local best practice and regulations.
  • As part of product selection look for formulations with reduced    packaging, such as soluble sachets.
  • Avoid glass bottles where possible.

Never -

  • Discard empty containers in the field, ditches or water courses.
  • Reuse empty containers for any other purpose.
  • Bury, burn or recycle unwashed containers.
  • Allow children near pesticide waste.
  • Allow containers to accumulate above your safe storage capacity.
  • Allow container washings to enter any water course.

Questions

  1. How do you make empty containers ready for disposal?
  2. What level of chemical residue is likely after triple rinsing?
  3. What should you do with the container washings?
  4. Which is the best method of disposing of empty containers?
  5. What other uses can empty containers be used for?
  6. What precautions should be followed if using on farm disposal?

References and further reading

ECPA's Container Management Guidelines (362 Kb pdf file)

Crop Life International's Container Management (html page) and also

Container Management (253Kb pdf file)

Management of empty pesticide containers (132Kb pdf file) from University of Lublin

Trainers Notes

 Practical aids: 

  1. Have examples of different types of packaging, good and bad examples and a range of different packaging materials.
  2. Explain the differences between packaging why one is good the other bad etc.
  3. Demonstrate triple rinsing

 
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