Pesticide Waste Stewardship

Using pesticides according to the label and following best practice will ensure their impact on the environment is minimised.

Since 1999 disposal to land of surplus spray or washings that does not take place "in the crop" has required a "Groundwater Authorisation" from the local environment agency office. Further waste regulations were introduced in 2006 which prohibit the buringor burial of pesticide containers in England and Wales. Similar arrangements apply in Northen Ireland and Scotland.

There are five types of waste that may be generated:

1: Surplus Spray and Washings (interior/exterior)
2: Empty containers and packaging
3: Waste from spills
4: Unwanted/unapproved pesticides
5: Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

To reduce disposal costs the best approach is in minimize waste production at source. Non-hazardous waste is less expensive to dispose of.

  • Order sufficient product to do the job in hand and no more;
  • Buy products in the largest practical container sizes and consider returnable packs;
  • Store products in good order;
  • Choose products which minimise or eliminate contaminated packaging waste.

Surplus Spray and Washings 

To minimise surplus spray:

  • carefully calculate required spray quantities and mix just enough to complete the task;
  • Avoid being caught out by changes in the weather

Use internal sprayer, tank-cleaning units and container rinsing devices

There are four routes of disposal:

In Crop - Groundwater Authorisation is not required if the sprayer is empitied and cleaned in the field being treated as long as part of the field is left unsprayed or under-dosed for the purpose. Dilute surplus spray solution with at least ten times clean water and spray out onto treated field, ensure that the maximum dose approved for the crop is not exceeded. For specific herbicides, such as SUs, follow the manufacturer's recommended proceedure.

Grass Area - Groundwater Authorisation by the Environment Agency is required to apply sprayer washings to an un-cropped grassed area (not fallow or stubble) of minimal wildlife value.

Biobed - Sprayer washings, both internal & external, can be drained to a drive-over or offset biobed. lined biobeds are preferred and should not require a Groundwater Authorisation. Unlined biobeds will require and authorisation. Before building a biobed check whether or not you need a Waste Regulation exemption. (Environment Agency Agricultural waste line 0845 6033113)

Fully Contained Wash-down Area - Groundwater Authorisation is not required if sprayer washings are drained to tank and then sent for professional disposal.

Fully Contained Wash-down Area with a Sentinal Treatment Facility - Groundwater Authorisation is not generally required but the local environment agency needs to be consulted.

Empty containers and Packaging 

The most practical legal options for farm waste, including empty pesticide containers, is via a professional collection service, either destined for recycling or disposal. It is also possible that your local licensed disposal site may accept such waste. Whichever route you choose, ensure that the proceedure is well documented and that you recieve the appropriate "Waste Transfer Notes".

To effectively manage packaging waste and to reduce possible costs:

  • Reduce packaging material
  • Clean the packaging - Clean packaging attracts lower disposal costs; Use container rinsing devices or triple rinse; Cleaned containers shuld be placed in a dry secure compound prior to disposal.

Primary Packaging

Empty liquid containers should be thoroughly cleaned and drained and then stored upright. Foil seals and caps should be rinsed but still kept separately in a specific "Hazardous Waste Can" and disposed of separately.

Containers holding dry materials should be throughly emptied and, if practical, "rinsed" and "drained". Paper containers should be folded and placed in a cardboard box, or large paper bag.

Glass, Metal and Aerosols

Check the label for any specific advice from the manufacturer. Where pratical, thoroughly clean containers. Ensure any "Washings" are used or disposed of correctly and do not pose and risk to water; do not puncture aerosols. A licensed waste disposal contractor will be required.

Cardboard Outers and Paper Containers

Avoid contaminating any clean material - keep cardboard and paper outers clean as these will be acceptable for recycling.

Waste from Spills 

Spillages should be cleaned up thoroughly with absorbant material (e.g. cat litter). All contaminated wastes should be treated as unwanted pesticide and sent for professional disposal via a reputable waste disposal contractor.

Water is vulnerable from tiny splahes and spills that occur when filling the sprayer and when rinsing the containers. never wash spilled pesticide in any form into the soakaway, sewer drain, ditch or river. A portable bunded area can help trap spills. The use of either a grass/soil area or a lined biobed can ensure that any pesticides are trapped in a biologically active area. This means, that over time,only spilt product can be degraded by natural processes in the soil.

Unwanted/Unapproved Pesticides 

Any unwanted pesticides that are no longer approved must be disposed of through a registered waste disposal contractor. The latest information on approved products can usually be found at:www.pesticides.gov.uk

Choose the contractor carefully

Recycling and waste disposal contractors offer a range of services and handle a range of different waste materials. Check that your chosen contractor can handle all the materials you wish to dispose of, and that their collection systems fits with your requirements.

The website www.agwasteplastics.org.uk has been set up to identify suitable recycling and waste disposal contractors. The site allows users to search by post code and waste type.

For more detailed information visit the VI website for "Best Practice Guides"

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Wear appropriate personal protective equipment at each stage of the process.