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Disposal of Pesticides

By: Helena Stratford - Updated: 9 Feb 2013 | comments*Discuss
Disposal Of Pesticides

When it comes to doing battle with weeds, it’s the weeds which usually win! Particularly when in comes to persistent and invasive nasties such as ground elder, brambles or dandelions.

And what about those horrible, fat slugs which just refuse to leave our Hostas alone?

Sooner or later, even the calmest, greenest of green-fingered gardeners wage war and reaches for the pesticides.

But when the chemicals are used up, we have surplus or we want to go organic, what do we do with the left-over’s?

Pesticides Are Toxic Chemicals

As the name suggests, pesticides are toxic chemicals which are designed to kill common pests and weeds in the garden. They include products such as ant-powder, slug pellets, weed killers, and plant growth regulators.

When using pesticides, therefore, it is important to be circumspect and use them wisely, and if you need to get rid of them, you must do so extremely carefully or you could be in breach of the law.

Empty Pesticide Containers

When you have finished the contents of a pesticide product, make sure you wash out the container thoroughly. Don’t rinse it down the drain, where residues could contaminate water, but rather, if it was a pre-diluted mix, re-fill the container and spray again outside, then throw away the container normally.

If the container held a concentrate, then you must take to the hazardous waste section of your local dump.

Out Of Date Pesticides

Most pesticides are able to be stored for two or more years, if they are kept in cool, dark conditions. However, it is always better to use them up as you go along and only buy the necessary amounts.

Pesticides Which Have Been Phased Out

Sometimes manufacturers may discontinue certain lines or brands of pesticide. This could be for a variety of reasons, but if a product has been phased out, it becomes illegal for you to be storing or using it at home. The storage of any pesticides which have been taken off the market is illegal and there could be a find imposed on you up to £5,000.

If you are unsure as to whether any pesticides in your garden shed are still in use or not, call your council to find out. However, don’t worry too much, as there is usually a two-year grace period after a pesticide has been withdrawn from the market place in which to use it up.

Disposal Of Pesticides

When it comes to the disposal of pesticides, whether they are old, surplus to requirements or no longer legal to use, there are strict procedures which must be followed.

Pesticides contain chemicals which are either harmful to people, animals and/or the environment and as such, are classed as hazardous waste.

Here is a checklist of what you should and shouldn’t do:


  • Don’t pour them down the drain - If pesticides get into water, it is extremely harmful for the organisms that live there, and could also contaminate the local drinking supply. It’s also illegal to get rid of pesticides down the sink, drain, or toilet.
  • Don’t put them in a bin with general waste - Pesticides should never be put into a normal dustbin, unless the label on the bottle specifically says it’s OK to do so. Pesticides can’t go to normal landfill sites as the chemicals could leach into the surrounding land causing damage to the environment and groundwater and the chemicals in the pesticides could also harm the bin collectors.
  • Don’t incinerate or burn pesticides - Due to the noxious fumes they may give off, pesticides should never be put on an open bonfire or incinerated with garden waste. Many are also highly flammable and to do so could be extremely dangerous.


  • Take any pesticides (and if you are unsure, pesticide containers as well), to your municipal waste disposal or recycling centre. - All local councils are equipped with facilities for residents to dispose of hazardous waste and chemicals and you will be shown a special section specifically for this purpose.

If In Doubt:

If you are at all unsure as to how to dispose safely of pesticides, then contact your local council who will be only too pleased to help you.

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