How to Dispose of Fertilizers (the Right Way)

If you’re a gardening enthusiast, you must know a lot about using fertilizers for a lush, green lawn or garden.

However, did you know that many fertilizers contain high quantities of toxic chemicals that make them hazardous?

It’s why you need to handle fertilizers and dispose of them carefully. You can call your local waste management company to dispose of fertilizers safely or try another responsible alternative.

Let’s explore the most appropriate and safe ways to dispose of fertilizers!

How to Dispose of Fertilizers Properly

Fertilizers are not only hazardous waste, but you also cannot recycle them.

It means that you will have to follow proper disposal methods to protect yourself and the environment from fertilizers. Here are some ways in which you can dispose of fertilizers safely and responsibly:

Find a Hazardous Waste Disposal Program

Reach out to your garbage removal or waste management company. Ask them about the nearest hazardous waste drop-off site or the local pick-up service.

If they come up empty, you should contact the local municipality office. Figure out if there are any hazardous waste disposal programs in or around your area.

Most municipalities have permanent facilities for hazardous household (HHW) waste disposal. They also have designated HHW pick-up days.

Some cities also schedule collection events that allow you to drop off hazardous waste at the specified location.

If your municipality cannot help you, you can search for an HHW disposal facility in your area on RecycleNation.

It has the ultimate database for recycling facilities in the US. All you have to do is enter your waste item and postal code. The tool will generate results of hazardous waste disposal facilities nearest to your location.

While you’re trying to locate an HHW disposal service, keep the fertilizer in a cool, dry place. Make sure that it’s out of reach of your children and pets to keep them safe.

Leave the unused fertilizer in its original bag or container for pick-up by the sanitation service.

When storing liquid fertilizer, it’s best if you keep its container in a plastic bag. It will prevent the fertilizer from leaking on the ground or coming into contact with your skin.

Additionally, don’t mix two types of fertilizers. It might cause a dangerous and volatile chemical reaction.

Use It on Your Houseplants

If you don’t have an outdoor lawn where you can use the fertilizer, don’t fret. You can also use fertilizer on your indoor plants. Just make sure to dilute the fertilizer with 1-part water to spray it on your houseplants.

Alternatively, read the instructions on the back for proper dilution. You can also use granular fertilizer on your houseplants. Just read the directions on the label for the appropriate application.

Exchange Your Used Fertilizer for Another Product

Some municipalities offer various waste management programs that allow you to exchange your product for another product dropped off by someone else.

If your city offers such a program, try to trade your used fertilizer for any other dropped-off product that is useful to you.

Give It to Someone Who Needs It

You can also discard your fertilizer by giving it to someone who needs it. Just make sure to label the container before giving it away.

You can offer used or unused fertilizer to another gardener. Try asking around in your neighborhood to find someone who can use your leftover fertilizer.

Alternatively, you can ask your friends and family if they need the fertilizer. You can also post on various social media platforms to find a gardening enthusiast who can take the fertilizer off your hands.

This way, you will not have to deal with disposing of it. You will also save someone else the hassle of buying a new container.

Give It to a Local Gardening Chemical Store

You can also take your unused fertilizer to a local business, garden outlet, or a store that sells gardening chemicals. Gardening stores are required to dispose of chemicals per federal, state, and local laws.

A local store might be willing to accept your fertilizer bottle and dispose of it properly. Just make sure that the fertilizer is in its original container with its label intact.

Discard it in the Trash Responsibly

If you cannot locate a hazardous waste service or facility in your area, you can dispose of fertilizer in the trash. However, make sure to discard it as responsibly as possible.

Plus, only dispose of smaller quantities of fertilizer in your regular waste.

Put granular fertilizer in a durable trash bag and tie the bag securely. Put the trash bag in another heavy-duty trash bag and tie it properly.

Double bagging will ensure that the granules don’t spill out of the bag and contaminate a landfill.

If you have liquid fertilizer, you will have to be extra careful when disposing of it in the trash. It’s because it can leak easily.

If it’s in its original container, put the lid on it and make sure that it’s secured tightly.

Wrap the container in four or more layers of newspaper. It will ensure that the newspaper absorbs the fertilizer if it spills over from the can.

Put the wrapped container inside a heavy-duty trash bag and tie the bag securely.

Put the bagged fertilizers into the trash can outside your place on the day of trash pick-up. Make sure to let the trash pick-up guy know that you have fertilizer in your trash.

Alternatively, you can discard the fertilizer at a local dumpster or drop-off location. But don’t forget to notify the staff that you are dumping fertilizer.

Dangers of Improper Fertilizer Disposal

There are three common types of fertilizers available today – traditional chemical fertilizers, organic fertilizers, and biosolids.

Organic fertilizers contain animal waste, plant matter, and minerals. These fertilizers ensure that nutrients reach your soil quickly. They also pose a low environmental threat. You can safely use them for your lawn and garden areas.

Chemical fertilizers contain chemicals, such as phosphorus, nitrogen, and potassium compounds. Biosolids are treated sewage sludge.

Both these types of fertilizers are widely recognized as hazardous waste. It’s why you should never throw these fertilizers in the trash.

Improper disposal of these fertilizers will lead to the contamination of your local water supplies. These fertilizers contain phosphorous.

It’s a chemical that encourages algae growth. Algae can suck the oxygen out of streams, lakes, and rivers. This dangerous side effect of fertilizers can be detrimental to the wellbeing of fish and other creatures living in these water bodies.

Additionally, the widespread use of chemical fertilizer in urban environments is already causing cumulative harmful effects on the environment.

If you ensure the proper disposal of fertilizers, you can effectively counteract this effect. You can reduce the carbon footprint left by fertilizers on the Earth and save marine life.

Don’t pour fertilizers down a storm drain or sink either. Disposing of fertilizer this way will lead to the contamination of sewage water.

Sewage treatment facilities cannot treat the toxic chemicals in fertilizers. It means that they will continue to harm the environment to no end.

Safety Tips for Handling Fertilizers

When dealing with fertilizers, you must ensure your safety. Here are some handy tips that will enable you to handle fertilizers safely and responsibly:

  • Always wear gloves when dealing with fertilizers. It’s because they contain nitrogen, which can cause a chemical burn if it comes into contact with your skin.
  • Wear goggles or protective glasses to prevent the soil and fertilizer spray from getting into your eyes.
  • Fertilizers are not a one-size-fits-all solution; you can’t buy one type of fertilizer for all sorts of soil. It might damage, burn, and kill your lawn. You should have your soil tested to ensure that you are using the right fertilizer on your garden soil.
  • Always read and follow the directions written on your fertilizer package to the T. This way, you can rest assured that you applied and handled the fertilizer safely.
  • Don’t use your hands to disperse granular fertilizer in the soil. Instead, use a spreader to spread them. Use a rake to work the fertilizer granules into the ground and then water the lawn as required.
  • Always sweep up any dry fertilizer that falls on the porch, patio, sidewalk, or driveway. This way, you can keep your children and pets out of harm’s way. It will also prevent the fertilizer from getting washed away into your local water system with the rain.
  • Don’t let the fertilizer run into any water source or even the gutters around your house.
  • After working with fertilizers, clean all of your equipment, gloves, and the sloes of your shoes. Don’t walk into your home in the shoes that you wore when fertilizing your garden. It will prevent you from tracking the fertilizer granules or water beads into your house.
  • Store all types of fertilizers out of reach of your children and pets. Keep them on a high shelf or a locked cabinet. If you keep the fertilizer in your shed, make sure to lock it. If you store it in your garage, keep it on a high shelf that is inaccessible to your children.
  • If you are exposed to the fertilizer, wash it off quickly and then seek medical attention if required.

The Bottom Line

Chemical and biosolid fertilizers are hazardous waste products. It’s why you need to dispose of them responsibly and safely.

You can drop them off at a hazardous waste disposal site or contact a hazardous waste facility for a curbside pick-up service. You can also exchange it for another product at the facility.

Alternatively, you can use the fertilizer on your houseplants. You can also give it to someone who needs it or drop it off at a local gardening chemical store.

If all else fails, you can dispose of small quantities of fertilizer in the trash. Just make sure to do so carefully so that it does not spill out of the trash bag.

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