Ohio State University Extension Fact Sheet

Ohio State University Fact Sheet

Community Development

700 Ackerman Road, Suite 235, Columbus, OH 43202-1578

Rinsing and Disposal of Pesticide Containers


Erdal Ozkan
Joe E. Heimlich

Concentrated pesticide residues that leak from unrinsed, discarded containers can cause significant environmental contamination. Up to 3 ounces of pesticide may be left inside a 5-gallon container after normal emptying. Depending on the cost of the product, the money saved in pesticide costs alone through proper container rinsing could be significant. Containers should be rinsed immediately after they are emptied because residue can dry and become more difficult to remove.

As a commercial hazardous material, a container cannot legally be placed in a landfill, recycled or burned except in hazardous waste facilities. This could become a tremendous financial and logistic problem for farmers. But there is an option!

If properly prepared before disposal, the containers are considered to be non-hazardous by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency. Proper preparation means either proper triple rinsing or proper pressure rinsing. In laboratory studies, both processes resulted in less than 1 part per million (ppm) of residual in the water from the containers. At this level, it is safe to place the containers into disposal systems.

Managing Empty Pesticide Containers

  1. Remove the cap. Rinse the cap into the spray tank.
  2. Dispose of the cap separately.
  3. Rinse the container immediately after emptying.
  4. Drain rinsate into the spray tank.
  5. Store the rinsed containers in a dry area.
  6. Deliver rinsed containers to a recycling or a collection disposal facility.

How To Properly Rinse Containers

Proper preparation of the used agricultural chemical containers is the first step, no matter what the second step might be! Whether you deliver the container to a landfill or to a recycling program the environment is protected if the containers are properly prepared.

If there is any doubt about proper preparation of the containers a disposal site can refuse the containers. Open burning is banned in Ohio as is land disposal without proper permits. The only real options available are landfills and recycling programs. Take the necessary few minutes to properly rinse your containers so they are no longer considered hazardous and acceptable to the receiver of the containers.

Two types of procedures are recommended for rinsing pesticide containers: triple rinsing and pressure rinsing. Here are the steps involved in each method.

Triple Rinsing

Triple rinsing is the most commonly used procedure and involves the following steps:

  1. When emptying a liquid pesticide from a container, the flow will normally reduce to drops as the container becomes empty. Continue draining for 30 minutes after drops start.

  2. Add the correct amount of rinse solution (water or the designated spray carrier) as follows:

  3. Secure the lid on the container.

  4. Shake small containers, or roll and tumble large containers to get rinse on all interior surfaces.

  5. Remove the lid from the container. Drain the rinsate from the container into the spray tank. Continue draining 30 seconds after drops start.

  6. Repeat steps 2 through 5 two more times.

  7. Put the lid back on the container and dispose of according to the label directions.

Pressure Rinsing

By using a high pressure nozzle designed specifically for rinsing pesticide containers you can take care of the rinsing process while emptying the pesticides into the spray tank. Special nozzles that attach to a garden hose are used to puncture plastic and metal containers. When turned on the nozzle produces a forceful spray inside the empty container. Hold the container over the opening of the spray tank or holding tank while rinsing to capture the rinse water as it drains from the container spout. Follow the steps below to rinse using a pressure nozzle.

  1. Remove cover from the container. Empty the pesticide into the spray tank and let the container drain for 30 seconds after drops start.

  2. Insert the pressure rinse nozzle by puncturing through the lower side of the pesticide container.

  3. Hold the container upside down over the sprayer tank opening so rinsate will run into the sprayer tank.

  4. Turn the nozzle on and rinse for the length of time recommended by the manufacturer (generally 30 seconds or more). Wiggle nozzle to rinse all interior surfaces.

  5. Rinse the container lid separately in a bucket of water and pour this rinse water into the spray tank.

  6. Put the lid back on the container and dispose of according to the label directions.

Figure 1

Some Final Thoughts

Proper rinsing of pesticide containers is easy to do, saves money and reduces the risk of contaminating the environment. It takes a few minutes to properly triple rinse a container while it takes less than a minute to pressure rinse. The amount of rinsate generated is generally reduced by the pressure rinsing method. Several manufacturers are selling pressure rinse nozzles. Contact your county Extension office for the most up-to-date list.

It is always a good idea to check with your local recycling center for any specific preparation requirements.

Remember to read and follow all label instructions. Wear appropriate protective gear when working with pesticides. Dispose of all pesticide containers properly. Do all mixing and loading of pesticides and rinsing of pesticide containers at least 150 feet away from all wells, preferably on specially constructed concrete pads.

For More Information

Contact your county Extension office for more information on managing pesticide containers and pesticide waste.

All educational programs conducted by Ohio State University Extension are available to clientele on a nondiscriminatory basis without regard to race, color, creed, religion, sexual orientation, national origin, gender, age, disability or Vietnam-era veteran status.

Keith L. Smith, Associate Vice President for Ag. Adm. and Director, OSU Extension.

TDD No. 800-589-8292 (Ohio only) or 614-292-6181

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