Disposal of expired pesticides
Pesticides are dangerous and require great care in selection, transportation application, storage and disposal. A common source of waste pesticides is where users buy too many pesticides to do a job and never use the products.
In Jamaica, the Pesticide Control Authority (PCA) is mandated to regulate, manage and control pesticide use. 'Prevention is always better than cure' - so when considering using pesticides, purchase only the quantity needed. The best way to dispose of small amounts of excess pesticides is to use them. If for some reason you no longer need excessive quantities of pesticides, share it with your fellow farmers.
"Incorrect use and disposal of pesticides can be a health hazard to humans, pets and other animals and can pose a serious threat to the environment" (PCA registrar, Michael Ramsay in a Jamaica Information Service article dated September 24, 2012).
Disposal of many pesticides ends up at our national dump sites and this is an illegal practice. The National Solid Waste Management Authority is not responsible for the collection, treatment and disposal of agricultural waste - including pesticides. The PCA is the authority on the provision of advice on proper pesticide disposal.
Serious efforts are made periodically by the PCA regarding the disposal of unwanted pesticides. One such initiative was in 2010 when the Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations began a partnership with the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) to fund a regional mega clean-up project to remove all obsolete pesticides from CARICOM territories. This is ongoing.
Information concerning use, transportation, application, storage and disposal is contained on the pesticide label and Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS).
Disposal of pesticides and personal protection
1. It is the user's responsibility to ensure that they are in receipt of a label when purchasing pesticides - always! READ the label and MSDS. The MSDS can be obtained at the farm store and can also be accessed on the Internet.
2. Have a good inventory system; this is applicable for all size operations, on farm and at home. This is important to ensure that older stocked pesticides are used up before new stock - use pesticides on a 'first in, first out' basis.
3. Ensure that pesticides are safely stored and secured.
4. Purchasing the quantity needed and safe using are the most effective means of pesticide disposal.
5. Always use the label- recommended personal protective equipment when handling, applying and disposing of pesticides - even for old and expired pesticides.
6. Follow the triple-rinse method and puncture containers before disposal of empty pesticide containers.
7. Leftover pesticide mix after spraying or triple-rinse water can be disposed of safely by spraying it on to a grassy area. DO NOT pour in one spot - uniformly spray over grassy area.
8. Have a dedicated safe area/pit on farm for the disposal of pesticide containers not exceeding four-five gallons (15-22 l) capacity. This area should be away from water sources etc. Each layer consisting of discarded pesticide containers should be covered with soil. Likewise, when the pit is full, it should be covered with a layer of soil. For more information on determining a safe area, please contact the PCA.
9. DO NOT burn pesticide containers (paper, aluminum packages metal or plastic container) as fire temperatures are insufficient for proper pesticide disposal and can lead to pollution and serious environmental contamination.
10. Contact local chemical companies or distributors, as they may be able to assist in disposal of unwanted pesticides.
11. For more information on pesticide disposal, please contact the Pesticide Control Authority at firstname.lastname@example.org or 967-1281, 922-2829.
Contributed by Francine Webb, RADA, Ministry of Agriculture & Fisheries.