Agricultural chemicals and waste management

Handling packaging of mineral fertilisers and other agricultural inputs

Recommendations for handling packaging from mineral fertilisers, adjuvants, biocides and other agricultural products can be found on the label of the preparations. In the case of non-hazardous agricultural product packaging, the collection and transfer of packaging waste in a selective manner allows it to be used as a secondary raw material.

According to the Waste Act, Art. 25.1: “The storage of waste shall be carried out in accordance with the requirements for the protection of the environment and the safety of life and health of humans, in particular in a manner that takes into account the chemical and physical properties of the waste, including its state of aggregation, and the hazards that the waste may cause” and “The storage of waste may only take place in an area to which the waste holder has a legal title.” Waste must be collected in a selective manner respecting fire and occupational health and safety (OHS) regulations.

Mineral fertiliser packaging, i.e. big bags, foil, if it does not contain hazardous substances, should be handed over to companies authorised to collect this type of waste, e.g. under code 15 01 01, 15 01 02 or 15 01 04 (see table in Lesson on waste generation on the farm), depending on the type of material it is made of.

Non-pesticide hazardous product packaging must be handed over to a company authorised to collect and/or treat this type of waste. According to the recommendations of good agricultural practice, the packaging of plant protection products must be rinsed three times and the washings poured into the sprayer. The emptied and rinsed packaging should then, in accordance with the law, be returned to the point of sale. (Act of 13 June 2013 on the management of packaging and packaging waste. Journal of Laws. 2013 item 888.)

Used packaging of plant protection products is one of the most common hazardous wastes, both in companies and in individual households. This raises specific problems and obligations, with the way in which this type of waste is handled depending on the type of hazard and the applicable legislation. The handling of PPP packaging is described in detail in the Act on Packaging and Packaging Waste Management (Journal of Laws 2013, item 888).

Pursuant to the Packaging and Packaging Waste Act, an entrepreneur operating a retail or wholesale unit that sells hazardous plant protection products is obliged to accept packaging waste of these products from users. The user of hazardous plant protection products is obliged to return the packaging waste of these products.

Before taking the packaging to the point of sale, it should be emptied, rinsed so that it does not pose a risk to those who will come into contact with it, the seller, the driver. It is also a good idea to prevent its re-use, e.g. by perforating it.

The correct rinsing of the plant protection product packaging should be carried out as follows:

  1. fill the container after emptying with water to approximately ¼ of its volume,
  2. close the packs tightly and shake vigorously for a few minutes,
  3. pour the contents into the spray can.

Repeat these steps three times. When using the washer on the sprayer, the pack should be exposed to water under pressure for at least 5-10 seconds. Rinsing the packs as recommended above saves money, as the entire contents of the pack are used, without unnecessary and unneeded waste, thus avoiding the cost of disposing of residues.

Empty, rinsed packaging is safe for both storage and transport to the point of sale. The retailer is obliged to accept clean packaging and not expired products or mixtures of products. The farm collector has the right to refuse to accept packaging if it has not been emptied and rinsed.

In 2004, after Poland’s accession to the European Union, the organisation of the packaging collection system was handled by the Polish Plant Protection Association, which brings together companies producing and placing plant protection products on the Polish market. The Association initiated the creation of a common system, open to all, for collecting packaging left after plant protection products, bringing order to the activities of several dozen producers, thousands of shops and nearly two million farmers. Empty packaging, rinsed three times with water, should be returned to the seller from whom the products were purchased, within the PSOR Packaging Collection System Under no circumstances should they be buried, incinerated or disposed of in municipal waste collections (applies to environmentally harmful products). To ensure that they cannot be reused, they should necessarily be perforated. Returned packaging must be clean, which should be carefully checked by retailers when accepting it. Even after being thoroughly emptied and rinsed three times, packaging from the indicated preparations should be treated as hazardous waste. As part of the PSOR Packaging Collection System, packaging is also collected directly from farmers. However, in this case they must meet the minimum packaging volume requirement of 10m3 .

The return of plant protection product packaging under code 15 01 10* to the point of sale is not only good agricultural practice, but also a statutory obligation. The point of sale, which sells the PPPs, has no grounds for refusing to accept the packaging if it is empty and rinsed.

Chemical containers must not be used for purposes other than those recommended on the label. They must not be used as substitute packaging for other liquids, as there is a risk of interaction between the residue and the substance being poured in, with a consequent risk of endangering human health or life or contaminating the environment.

Under no circumstances should empty chemical packaging be left in the field, burnt or buried. They should not be treated as municipal waste. They are not included in the selective waste collection system organised by the municipalities, i.e. waste paper, glass, plastic, organised by the municipalities. Details of their management are defined in the Act of 13 June 2013 on packaging and packaging waste management (Journal of Laws 2013, item 888.).