How to Ensure Safe Hazardous Farm Waste Management

How to Ensure Safe Hazardous Farm Waste Management

As with running any commercial business, running a farm results in the production of hazardous waste – but at a level more significant than you might expect. This hazardous waste poses a serious threat to farm safety, to both farm workers and animals, as well as presenting a compelling risk of accidental environmental pollution. Managing and disposing of hazardous waste needs to be a priority for every farmer.

What hazardous waste is produced on farms?

Confusion about what is constituted as “hazardous waste” has led to misunderstanding over the actual level of hazardous waste produced by a typical farm. Hazardous waste encompasses an expansive range of materials used to aid animal health, maintain and repair machinery, protect crops and ensure general upkeep of the farm. These include:

  • Chemicals – used, unused, expired or de-regulated pesticides and biocides such as herbicides, fungicides and insecticides.
  • Medicines – expired, used or partially used doses, dips, wormers, dry cow and mastitis tubes, needles and syringes
  • Waste paints – both solvent and chromate based paints
  • Coolants and anti-freeze
  • Oil and air filters
  • Brake fluid and brake pads
  • Waste engine and hydraulic oil
  • Aerosols
  • Contaminated gloves, rags, clothes and overalls – used when administering medicines, spraying pesticides, handling oils or any other hazardous materials.
  • Grease guns and containers
  • Used silicone guns
  • All batteries – including AA batteries, tractor and car lead batteries, remote control batteries etc.
  • All used light bulbs
  • Any waste electrical equipment – including broken power tools, monitors etc. – anything that is operated by a plug or battery.
  • Asbestos and asbestos sheeting
  • Creosote – the remains of burnt wood, tar, coal or other fossil fuels

The above materials should never be included in general waste disposal and must be collected by a registered hazardous waste disposal or waste oil disposal contractor. Farm plastics such as silage wrap, fertiliser and feed bags, triple rinsed dairy, hygiene or pesticides containers are not considered hazardous waste and should be disposed of separately. The IFFPG offer an approved farm plastics recycling compliance scheme for any such plastic waste.

Best Practices for Managing Hazardous Farm Waste

Ensuring effective hazardous waste management involves the incorporation of four key best practices into your daily farm routine:

1. Never mix hazardous waste materials

Certain hazardous waste materials can have flammable, carcinogenic and combustible properties which can ignite when stored with or exposed to other materials. For this reason, it is important that each type of hazardous material is stored individually, even if the level of waste is quite minimal.

In particular, waste oil should never be mixed with any other substances. Hazardous waste and waste oil collection services will usually refuse to pick up any mixed wastes such is the safety risk posed.

2. Label and contain all hazardous waste

To reduce the risk of incident or injury from chemicals or hazardous substances, it is important to clearly label all hazardous waste. Farm workers can only follow safety guidelines for handling and managing hazardous waste if they are aware that it is hazardous waste they are encountering. Each type of hazardous waste must be clearly identifiable if it is to be permitted to be collected by a hazardous waste collection service too.

3. Keep stock of chemicals and medicines to a minimum

Another key hazardous waste management best practice is to actively minimise the level of chemical waste disposal on site where possible. This can be achieved through minimising the stock of chemicals and medicines stored on site. Only buy what you need – a significant portion of hazardous farm waste results from expired, de-regulated or partially used chemicals and medicines. Keeping a small stock of chemicals and medicines also reduces the risk of incident or injury due to leaks, spills or exposure.

4. Ensure ethical and environmentally responsible disposal of hazardous waste

Hazardous farm waste should only be collected by registered hazardous waste disposal contractors. Since 2013, the EPA has made ethical hazardous waste disposal a much easier task for farmers by facilitating low cost collection centres across the country. Across October and November of each year, hazardous waste collection events will run at various designated centres across Ireland, spanning all four provinces.

Under this EPA scheme, 6,807 farmers have visited 36 collection centres and deposited over 800 tonnes of hazardous waste from 2013 to 2016. In October and November 2017, the EPA will run a further 10 collection events at centres located around the country:



Agreed Dates


Bandon (Recycling Centre)


Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Civic Amenity


North Tipperary

Wednesday, 25 October 2017




Friday, 27 October 2017

Mart – WFC


North Kerry

Saturday, 04 November 2017


Kilkenny Mart, Cillín Hill


Wednesday, 08 November 2017



South Tipperary

Tuesday, 14 November 2017


Mayo-Sligo Co-operative, Ballina


Friday, 17 November 2017




Tuesday, 21 November 2017




Friday, 24 November 2017

Mart Site

Kells (Recycling Centre)


Tuesday 28th November 2017

Civic Amenity


Protect the Future of Farming

Play your part in protecting the environment and the future of farming by implementing efficient, effective hazardous waste management practices as part of your daily farm routine. For advice or assistance with managing hazardous waste on your farm, feel free to get in touch with the expert Enva team.