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Could you please offer some suggestions and/or guidelines (where existing) on safe disposal of expired PUR® sachets?

Many thanks

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Should we take it that the sachets are still intact or empty?

RedR TSS gravatar imageRedR TSS ( 2014-04-01 09:16:14 -0600 )edit

Still intact, thank you.

washssudan gravatar imagewashssudan ( 2014-04-01 16:45:33 -0600 )edit

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We contacted P&G asking for the manufacturer's recommendations yesterday morning, but have still to hear back. Do P&G have a presence on the ground? Perhaps they would be able to evaluate the stock and determine whether their expiry date could be extended, or they could be otherwise recycled.

My understanding is that the active ingredients are ferrous sulphate and calcium hypochlorite*. So certainly don't burn them, they would release sulphur dioxide (toxic) and calcium hypochlorite is a class III oxidant (will cause a severe increase in the burning rate of combustible materials with which it comes into contact).

I understand that the US EPA would classify Calcium Hypochlorite as a D001 Hazardous Waste (Ignitable). I will try to get a waste disposal expert to post their thoughts on what the implications for this are likely to be in South Sudan.


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I asked a WASH course facilitator and he suggested the following, but please be careful with the test and adhere to advice if ingredients still active :

Advice is: Carry out a bucket test to identify if there is any active Chlorine left. If there is then put the sachets to one side for another year or two and try again until the Chlorine, which is the hazardous element has ' deactivated'. When and only when this is the case, the sachets can be disposed of as household waste.

Any comments welcome. Pauline REDR.

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After no response from P&G corporate I tweeted Allison Tummon-Kamphuis (@PG_CSDW of P&G's Children's Safe Drinking Water programme about this.

Allison initially responded: @martin_currie PUR sachets aren't dangerous/hazardous good so most frequent disposal method in LMIC countries is to incinerate or landfill

On further questioning Allison sent the attached MSDF (C:\fakepath\PG Purifier of Water MSDS.pdf - PUR is the former name for the 4gm P&G Purifier of Water sachets) and responded to my main concerns as follows:

M: Isn’t calcium hypochlorite a class3 oxidant (EPA D001 Hazardous) & wouldn't burning ferrous sulphate release toxic sulphur dioxide?

A: In bulk concentrations, some of the chemical ingredients in the sachets fall under various hazardous classifications (see MSDS Section II) but for the ingredient amounts that are in a 4 gm sachet of P&G/PUR – the mixture is not hazardous (Section III). The amount of calcium hypochlorite is very small – less than 1% of the contents of each sachet so it is not classified as a hazard in this formulation. For burning, there are no fire protection precautions specified (section V) but I am following up with our technical contacts for an answer to your specific question.

M: I'd also expect that one would want to avoid the possibility of the chlorine reaching a watercourse & aquatic life.

A: Section XII addresses this question and the product with the low level of chlorine (or the other ingredients) would not have a negative impact like direct disposal of bulk chlorine would. “Relevant ecotoxicity and fate data for ingredients in this formulation have been reviewed. Under normal and foreseeable consumer uses, there are no concerns for aquatic organisms exposed to product ingredients at the anticipated environmental concentrations. The product is compatible with down-the-drain disposal routes, including municipal wastewater treatment processes and septic tank systems. This product is intended for dispersive use and should not be disposed of directly into the environment.”

M: So it would seem that throwing a sachet away won’t cause an issue, but what about a pallet of sachets?

A: It does not occur often but we have had NGO partners dispose of quantities larger than a pallet before without any issues including in South Sudan.

M: I don’t suppose you have any details of the past South Sudan case? A: The previous product in South Sudan was at least 2+ years ago and it was PSI in Juba that had it to dispose of. The past program manager has moved on to another country but you/the NGO could contact PSI in Juba to ask if anyone there has a reco on how/where to dispose.

Allison also gave contact details of the PSI South Sudan's project coordinator, which I can pass on if required.

I hope this helps


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I presume the concern of the sachets expiring is based upon the calcium hypochlorite content that, although stable, may with time result in small amounts of HCl being present. Clearly a product that one day is suitable for using to create potable water does not become hazardous the next day when it hits its expiration date! I was wondering what your views would be on simply using the sachets in the normal way but then simply disposing of the clarified water rather drinking it? The used sachets could then be disposed of by their normal route. Regards, Harriette

Harriette Purchas gravatar imageHarriette Purchas ( 2014-04-28 04:28:50 -0600 )edit

I don't particularly see an issue with small amounts of HCl, but many water treatment chemicals, when used at the wrong concentrations, combinations or stages can cause hazards. I presume they have a significant number of sachets, hence opening each, using and disposing of the water may not be particularly easy. In terms of environmental disposal of drinking water, on a number of occasions I had problems in the UK when I had a tank full of perfectly potable drinking water that couldn’t be returned to the environment because of the chlorine content. Clearly sanity must prevail, but complications can exist. My original recommendation, which I believe the original enquirer did discuss with P&G, was whether an extension to the expiry date could be established.

Martin Currie _ Aqueum gravatar imageMartin Currie _ Aqueum ( 2014-04-28 04:53:59 -0600 )edit
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