Pesticide Storage and Disposal

Pesticide Storage and Disposal

  • By Penny Fenner-Crisp
  • /
  • November 2019-Vol.5 No.11
  • /
  • 1 Comment

The outdoor growing season is essentially over.  Activity has shifted to completing the winterizing and clean-up. After finishing these tasks, you can turn your attention to next year—what to grow, when to plant, what materials you already have for the next season, what additional products you may need to assure success.



Oh, but wait a minute!  Back to the clean-up.  Before closing up the garden shed/storage site, let’s take another look at all the bags, bottles and other containers holding  the grass seed, fertilizers and — pesticides.  Will these products still be usable come Spring?  Grass seed may include a “Use by” date but generally is considered to be best used within a year of purchase, although, depending upon the type, can stay substantially viable for 2-3 or more years.1  Fertilizers last for many years, if stored under dry conditions in intact packaging—and, for safety reasons, away from other chemicals. 2 


Pesticide law defines a pesticide active ingredient  (with certain minor exceptions) as: Any substance that prevents, destroys, repels, or mitigates a pest, or is a plant regulator, defoliant, desiccant, or nitrogen stabilizer.  There are several categories of active ingredients:

1. Conventional, which are all ingredients other than biological pesticides and antimicrobial pesticides. Common pesticides that fall into this category are glyphosate, permethrin, carbaryl (Sevin®), the neonicotinoids.

2. Biopesticides, which are types of ingredients derived from certain natural materials, such as insect pheromones, citronella, neem oil.

3. Antimicrobials, which are used to destroy or suppress the growth of harmful microorganisms whether bacteria, viruses, or fungi on inanimate objects and surfaces, such as triclosan, hydrogen peroxide, sodium hypochlorite (Chlorox®).

Each of these categories may be subdivided further into insecticides, fungicides, herbicides and rodenticides.


If stored properly, most pesticide products remain viable for more than one year.  All pesticide formulations must be subjected to a storage stability test before being approved for sale.3  If the formulation fails to reach the one-year mark, the label may include an expiration date, prominently displayed as ‘‘Not for sale or use after [date].’’


Fortunately, EVERY label of EVERY pesticide product approved for sale to homeowners and professional applicators alike must include a section on Storage and Disposal.

This is true for every kind of pesticide, whether it be a conventional chemical like glyphosate or a safer, certified “organic” like insecticidal soap.  While there may be some variations in the directions, based upon the ingredients in the pesticide formulation, physical form (e.g., liquid or granular) and container type, a few universal principles apply:

1. Store in original container at cool temperatures  (neither freezing nor upwards of 100°F).

2. Do not let products contaminate food, feed or water.

3. Keep away from children and pets, preferably in a locked area.

4. Do not burn/incinerate containers on site.

5. Dispose of properly.



Some pesticide containers may be re-used, but usually only with more of the original product.  Some empty containers may be disposed of in the regular trash or recycled, with or without pre-rinsing; the label will have this information.  Other empty or non-refillable containers and those with product remaining in them should be taken to a household hazardous waste facility; once again, the label will tell you which type of container you’ve got.   Residents of Charlottesville, Albemarle County and Scottsville can take advantage of the no-fee household hazardous waste collection days at the Ivy Material Utilization Center, generally scheduled for the last weekends of April and September each year. Source: Rivanna Solid Waste Authority, (at the website, you can sign up to receive email notifications about the Household Hazardous Waste days).


Lest you wonder if items taken to the Ivy Landfill during the Household Hazardous Waste Days events end up unmanaged in a landfill anyway, your concerns can be dispelled.  The Rivanna Solid Waste Authority, which oversees the Ivy site, has hired a licensed hazardous waste contractor which takes the material offsite, consolidates it at its facility in Abingdon, VA, then transports it to licensed hazardous waste incinerators, liquids to East Liverpool, OH and solids to El Dorado, TX.


So, NOW, clean-up is complete. You can kick back, put your feet up, peruse the seed catalogs and day-dream about next year’s harvest.

Happy thoughts!


1 Sabry Elias, Adriel Garay, Bill Young and Tom Chastain. 2019. “Maintaining Grass Seed Viability in Storage. A brief review of management principles with emphasis on grass seeds stored in Oregon.  Accessed October 7 at:

 2University of Massachusetts-Amherst. Center for Agriculture, Food and the Environment.   2019. Fertilizer Storage and Handling. Accessed October 7 at

3 U.S. EPA (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency). 2019. Pesticide Labeling Questions & Answers. Office of Pesticide Programs. Accessed October 7 at   

4 Potter, Craig. 2019. Personal Communication. Vice President-Northeast, MXI Environmental, Abingdon, VA.



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