Discarding Empty Pesticide Containers and The Montana Pesticide Disposal Program

Cecil Tharp, MSU Pesticide Education Specialist


Photo; two people wearing PPE safely carry a large container.

Environmental and human health risks increase the longer a pesticide is held in storage due to corrosion of pesticide containers. Pesticide applicators should be aware of the resources available for discarding pesticide containers and pesticide waste. By following a few simple steps applicators can ensure that empty and partially filled pesticide containers are discarded and disposed of legally and safely.

Disposing of Empty Pesticide Containers

Prior to discarding a pesticide container an applicators must power-wash or triple rinse the container. The rinsate should be discarded in pesticide tanks and sprayed over a site listed on the pesticide product label at/or below required product label rates. After triple rinsing, the container should be rendered unusable by puncturing.

The Montana Department of Agriculture (MDA) Pesticide Container Recycling Program keeps pesticide containers out of Montana’s landfills. This program has collected more than 288,000 pounds of pesticide containers since October 2009. Numerous sites across Montana can be viewed by simply searching the MDA Pesticide Container Recycling Program container recycling map. Applicators may contact the local cooperator to arrange a drop off of empty pesticide containers (refer to the recycling map link). Shredded plastic from pesticide containers is recycled to create non-consumer items such as drain tile, roadway speed bumps, pallets and landscape edging.

Disposing of Pesticide Waste

Applicators should use the Montana pesticide waste disposal program if they have unknown pesticide products (due to worn product label), unregistered pesticide products or unusable pesticides that are in need of disposal. The Montana pesticide waste disposal program began in 1994 and has collected more than 455,600 pounds of pesticide waste since onset. The disposal fee is FREE for the first 200 pounds and $0.50/lb for amounts in excess of 200 pounds for licensed pesticide applicators. Participants must pre-register their unusable pesticide with the Montana Department of Agriculture before the event.

Pesticide Disposal Program Locations and Dates

  • September 15, 2015 - Havre, MT
  • September 16, 2015 – Great Falls, MT
  • September 17, 2015 - Lewistown, MT
  • September 18, 2015 – Big Timber, MT


Participants must pre-register their unusable pesticide with the Montana Department of Agriculture so the collection can be managed safely and efficiently. Registration form [expired link].

Please mail registration form to:
Montana Department of Agriculture
Pesticide Disposal Program
P.O. Box 1054
Glasgow, MT 59230


Further Information

See the MDA Pesticide Container Recycling Program website, or the MDA pesticide waste disposal program page (linked in the above article). Contact Carli Lofing for additional information regarding the MDA Pesticide Disposal or Container Recycling Program at 406-228-9512 or email clofing@mt.gov. For any other questions contact Cecil Tharp, Pesticide Education Specialist (406-994-5067, ctharp@montana.edu).

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