Pesticide Container Management

Hazardous Waste Program fact sheet
01/2018
Division of Environmental Quality Director: Ed Galbraith
PUB2727

Pesticide applicators generally have questions about how to properly dispose of empty pesticide containers. Pesticide dealers will often take back large, empty, bulk-refillable containers, but smaller, empty containers are usually left for the consumer to address. Most labels state to triple rinse your empty containers and pour rinse water into your sprayer tank for application and those empty containers should be punctured and disposed of in a sanitary landfill, recycled or disposed of by other methods allowed by the state.

Recycling pesticide containers

Recycling pesticide containers is the preferred option. Once containers have been properly rinsed per label requirements, they can be recycled at an active, container collection site. Pesticide containers should not be mixed in with plastics from residential recycling programs because potential harmful residues can remain in pesticide containers. 

Finding recycling outlets can be challenging depending on what part of the state you are in and the quantity of containers you have to offer. Ag Container Recycling Council (ACRC) specializes in plastic pesticide container recycling and accepts containers up to 55 gallons in size. ACRC is an industry funded not-for-profit organization that safely collects and recycles agricultural crop protection, animal health and specialty pest control product containers (jugs and drums) throughout the U.S. Contractors hired by ACRC carry out the actual collection and processing of containers. 

To find the contractor responsible for collecting containers 55 gallons or less in size in Missouri contact ACRC at 877-952-2272 or find ACRC on the internet at acrecycle.org. For recycling larger containers over 55 gallons including intermediate bulk containers contact the Pesticide Stewardship Alliance at 314-849-9137 or find them on the internet at tpsalliance.org.

Disposal methods

Most product labels indicate properly rinsed pesticide containers can be disposed of in the landfill. Before placing empty pesticide containers in the trash, remove the cap and puncture the container to show the waste hauler the container is empty. Puncturing also prevents container reuse.   

Burning of pesticide containers is prohibited

Burning of pesticide containers is illegal in Missouri unless the containers are a result of household use or are incinerated at a permitted hazardous waste incineration facility. Open burning of pesticide containers onsite can release highly toxic fumes and residues that are harmful to human health and the environment. 

In conclusion, taking actions to safely manage empty pesticide containers helps protect human health and our state’s water, air and land resources. Recycling supports jobs and creates reusable products such as field drain pipe and pallets.