Sale and advertisement of pesticides

This advice is designed to provide basic guidance to traders. It is not a complete or authoritative statement of the law. Please note that some of the advice we provide to businesses is chargeable.

What is a pesticide?

Pesticides are substances that perform many functions, including protecting plants, regulating the growth of plants, protection from harmful creatures and rendering these creatures harmless - for example, wood preservatives, insecticides, antifouling paints, fungicidal washes, weedkillers, rat poison, soil sterilants, slug pellets, creosote, pond treatments, ant powder, pet spray, etc.

What are the requirements for selling?
  • Only approved pesticides may be sold - see below
  • Care must be taken to ensure that the pesticide is stored safely. Do not sell rusty, leaking or damaged products
  • A pesticide must only be sold in the container, including the label, supplied by the manufacturer or supplier. You are not allowed to break from bulk, repack or relabel. Do not sell a pesticide whose label has fallen off or is faded or otherwise unreadable - the law requires that certain information must be on the label
  • Sellers of agricultural pesticides for professional or industrial use must have a certificate of competence from the British Agrochemical Standards Inspection Scheme Ltd. No licence is required to sell or store pesticides for other uses
  • All reasonable precautions must be taken, particularly with regards to storage and transport, to protect the health of human beings, creatures and plants, to safeguard the environment and to avoid pollution of water
  • Employers must ensure employees are competent and properly instructed for their duties
What is approval?
  • Pesticides must be approved by either the Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) or the Health and Safety Executive and approvals are granted to individual products and only for specified uses. The approval will include approval of the label which will give safety information, active ingredients, storage information, instructions for use, including protective clothing. Whether the product is suitable for industrial, professional or amateur use is also stated
  • Approved pesticides are usually marked 'This product is approved under the control of Pesticides Regulations 1986'. The Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) or HSE approval numbers are marked
  • Approvals are usually provisional and are revoked after a period of time
Are there any advertising controls?
  • An advertisement is any printed material such as a leaflet, poster, newspaper, magazine, point of sale material and any radio or TV broadcast
  • Advertisements must comply with any special requirement in the approval, for example any special degree of risk must be shown
  • Only the approved uses of a pesticide can be mentioned
  • No unapproved claim for safety is permitted
  • A statement of such active ingredient in each pesticide must be given, e.g. Smiths Slug Pellets contain Metaldehyde
  • The general warning 'Read the label before you buy. Using pesticides safely' must be given
  • The active ingredient and warning must be clearly presented and separate from any other text
  • A point of sale notice, such as a shelf talker or a price list, which show only the product name and price and nothing else, do not need to show the active ingredient and warning
How do I dispose of unapproved or unwanted pesticide?

First contact your supplier, who may be able to arrange disposal. Do not pour it down the drain.

Rules to remember
  • Check condition of containers for leakage, rust and damage. Are the labels legible?
  • Use good stock rotation
  • Dispose of out of date advertising leaflets and posters
  • Dispose of pesticides safely
  • Make sure staff are properly trained and, if selling agricultural pesticides, have a certificate of competence

The enforcement of the laws regarding pesticides are the responsibility of the Health and Safety Executives, the Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), the Environmental Health Department of your local council and the Trading Standards Department of Hampshire County Council.