Pesticide Collection Day offers safe way to dispose of hazardous waste

By Caroline Klapper | May 20, 2013
Photo by: Donated photo

Most homeowners and gardeners find themselves purchasing pesticides at some point to help keep nuisance insects, weeds and fungi at bay, but leftover pesticides can create a problem.

“It’s not something you can just throw away,” said County Extension Director Bill Skelton. “It’s considered a material that you have to dispose of properly.”

Unlike most other types of household waste, pesticides are a hazardous waste material and must be disposed of in a hazardous materials disposal site.

In Haywood County, there isn’t a place to deposit such hazardous waste, but the North Carolina Cooperative Extension and North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services are offering a solution for people looking for a safe way to get rid of old pesticides.

From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday, May 22 pesticides, including insecticides, fungicides and herbicides, can be dropped off at the Haywood County Cooperative Extension Center on Raccoon Road. Only pesticides will be collected.

The service is funded by the Pesticide Environmental Trust Fund, and it is free. Products dropped off must be clearly labeled in the original containers. The center cannot accept materials with unknown identities, products that are unlabeled, or products not in pesticide containers. The containers must also be sound and have no leaks. If a container does leak, it can be placed inside a 5-gallon bucket for safe disposal.

While Skelton said he is not aware of specific instances of pesticide dumping or improper disposal, it probably happens because people don’t realize it is illegal, or they don’t know what to do with leftover materials.

“That’s why we provide this opportunity to provide a safe way to dispose of them,” he said.

Typically, pesticide collection days are held once every few years and the Extension Center will collect anywhere from 500 to 2,500 pounds of hazardous materials.

But Skelton said instead of throwing away extra pesticides, it would be better if people used more caution when purchasing such substances.

The best way to prevent the issue is to purchase only as much as is needed.

“Avoid excess pesticides by purchasing only what you’re going to use in one season, so you don’t have a lot of leftover pesticides,” he said.

If someone does end up with extra pesticides, Skelton recommends passing it along to someone else who can use it.

“The best way to dispose of a pesticide is going to be to use it according to its label,” he said. “You can always give them away to another gardener as well.”

The exception to this option is with restricted-used pesticides, which require certification and a license to be able to use.

There is no pre-registration necessary for dropping off pesticides on Wednesday except for containers greater than 5 gallons in size. In such cases, call the Extension office in advance so they can properly dispose of it.

For those that miss the collection day, they can contact the Extension office at 456-3575 for help with properly disposing of pesticides. Extension services can either recommend methods for using the pesticides properly, or depending on the situation, they can help the individual find a hazardous waste site for disposal.

"It's a case by case situation," Skelton said, explaining that disposing of pesticides can depend on where the person is, how much material they have and what kind of pesticide they are dealing with.

Hazardous waste sites do charge for their services, which is why the complimentary Pesticide Collection Day is a good deal, he said.