The term ‘pesticide waste’ extends further than the disposal of household cans of insect repellant or garden ant killers. It also goes further than industrial and agricultural chemicals that are used to combat pests. It defines any item, solution, material or substance that is used to control pests and is no longer in use (including empty containers).
Included in this definition are any expired products that have exceeded their life, any damaged products that render them unusable, and any banned substance that is hazardous to the environment and human health.
The issues with disposing of pesticide waste can be more severe in countries such as South Africa where proper compliance and management are not always adhered to, and a lack of education and awareness can lead to endangerment of communities and ecosystems.
Risks associated with pesticide waste
The dumping of empty pesticide containers near poor communities can lead to serious problems if some of those containers are collected and reused for domestic purposes. Furthermore, discarding old pesticide stocks in open land or near residential areas exposes children, livestock and water systems to contamination and poisoning. This can have devastating consequences to entire communities.
It is unknown exactly how much pesticide waste is generated in South Africa every year as these statistics are difficult to determine, but it necessitates raising awareness and education in communities that are at risk of exposure to hazardous chemicals.
Responsible disposal of pesticide waste
In August 2017, the restriction of waste from persistent organic pollutants (POPs) was signed into action in South Africa. These restrictions on pesticide waste are listed under the Stockholm Convention, and detail how pesticide waste must be treated before disposal.
Since pesticides are classified as hazardous waste, they must be disposed of correctly and by a licensed waste management provider in South Africa such as Averda. The safest and most responsible solution to discarding any amount of pesticide waste is to contact trusted companies like Averda, who will collect the waste and dispose of it in a compliant manner.
It is important to remember that you should never pour pesticide down the drain or flush it down the toilet, as most water treatment facilities and sewerage works cannot remove pesticides from the water. The labels on the containers will often have guidelines for safe storage and disposal of the pesticide, so refer to that should you need to throw the container away.