Prevention of accumulation of obsolete pesticide stocks



   These guidelines were prepared by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) under project GCP/INT/572/NET: "Prevention and Disposal of Unwanted Pesticide Stocks in Africa and the Near East", funded by the Government of the Netherlands. Despite the limited geographical scope of the project, the guidelines are considered generally applicable and of interest to many countries, aid agencies and the pesticide industry..
   They have been published as provisional because they have not yet received approval from the member countries of FAO. In view of the significant interest expressed in the subject, it has been decided to make the present version available as a project publication. Interested parties are invited to provide written comments to FAO based on their experience in the implementation of these guidelines. Their comments will be considered in the definitive version of the guidelines.

Chief, Plant Protection Service
Plant Production and Protection Division
Viale delle Terme di Caracalla
00100 Rome, Italy
Telex 610181 FAO I
Fax (39-6) 52256347





1.1 When are pesticides obsolete?
1.2 Occurrence and state of obsolete pesticide stocks
1.3 Causes of accumulation of obsolete pesticides
1.4 Hazards connected to obsolete pesticides
1.5 Disposal of obsolete pesticides


2.1 Banning of products
2.2 Inadequate stores and poor stock management
2.3 Unsuitable products and packaging
2.4 Donations or purchases in excess of requirements
2.5 Inadequate coordination among and within aid agencies
2.6 Commercial interests and hidden factors


3.1 Why prevention is necessary
3.2 Responsibility for pesticide stocks
3.3 Guidelines for governments of developing countries
3.4 Guidelines for aid agencies
3.5 How the pesticide industry can help to prevent the accumulation of obsolete stocks


1 Avoiding incidents with pesticide stocks
2 Appraisal of requests for pesticide donations
3 Recommendations for stacking containers
4 Summary overview of recommended preventive measures to avoid accumulation of obsolete pesticides
5 References and further information
6 Definitions



Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations


FAO Emergency Centre for Locust Operations


International Group of National Associations of Agrochemical Manufacturers


Global Legislators Organization for a Balanced Environment


German Agency for Technical Cooperation


International Maritime Dangerous Goods Code


International Programme on Chemical Safety


Integrated Pest Management


Integrated Vector Control


Material Safety Data Sheet


Natural Resources Institute/Overseas Development Agency


Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development


Development Assistance Committee


Prior Informed Consent


United Nations


United Nations Conference on Environment and Development


United Nations Environment Programme


UNEP Industry and Environment Office


UNEP International Register of Potentially Toxic Chemicals


UNEP Secretariat of the Basel Convention


World Health Organization




   Most developing countries have outdated and deteriorated stocks of pesticides that can no longer be used as prescribed on the label. These stocks are often stored in poor conditions and pose a threat to human health and the environment. With the exception of a few newly industrialized countries, developing countries do not have adequate facilities to dispose of such stocks in a safe and environmentally sound manner. In many cases, therefore, the recommended disposal method would appear to be shipment of the pesticides to a country that has special hazardous waste incineration facilities.
   In view of the dangerous nature of these pesticides and the high costs of safe and environmentally sound disposal, the long-term solution to obsolete stocks lies in preventive measures: improved stock management and reduction of stocks.
   The objective of these guidelines is to raise awareness about the mechanisms through which obsolete pesticide stocks accumulate and to enhance the formulation of policies and procedures aimed at prevention of such accumulation. The guidelines analyse the causes of this accumulation and recommend how it can be prevented. They provide guidance to the governments of developing countries, aid agencies and the pesticide industry. For developing countries, they are considered of special interest to ministries of agriculture and ministries of health, particularly for senior staff responsible for assessing the country's yearly pesticide requirements and for procuring pesticides; staff responsible for the management of national pesticide stocks; heads of departments or services responsible for plant protection, migratory pest control and vector control; directors of produce boards and cooperatives involved in large-scale pesticide distribution; and others responsible for pesticide procurement and management.
   The guidelines should be regarded as a further instrument to enhance implementation of the FAO International Code of Conduct on the Distribution and Use of Pesticides, which was adopted by the Conference of FAO in 1985. The objective of the Code of Conduct is to set forth responsibilities and establish voluntary standards of conduct for all public and private entities engaged in or affecting the distribution and use of pesticides, particularly where there is either an inadequate national law or no law regulating pesticides. The Code of Conduct was amended in 1989 to include the Prior Informed Consent (PIC) procedure (FAO, 1990).
   The guidelines supplement the Guidelines on disposal of bulk quantities of pesticides in developing countries (UNEP/FAO/WHOa, in preparation). Other FAO technical guidelines relevant to the subject are listed in Annex 5.
   The issue of obsolete pesticide stocks is increasingly receiving international attention. A growing number of developing countries are requesting aid agencies to provide assistance for disposal of obsolete stocks and this has already started, together with assistance aimed at preventing further accumulation of obsolete pesticide stocks.
   Donor assistance for the prevention and disposal of obsolete pesticide stocks is supported by several international agreements and policy documents. The most specific document in this respect is the OECD/DAC Guidelines for aid agencies on pest and pesticide management (OECD, 1995). Other important documents are Agenda 21: Chapter 20 (Environmentally sound management of hazardous wastes including prevention of illegal international traffic in hazardous wastes), (UNCED, 1992) and the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal, 1989 (UNEP/SBC, 1994), both of which emphasize the importance of preventing the generation of hazardous waste. The World Bank also included some paragraphs on disposal of obsolete pesticide stocks in a relevant publication (World Bank, 1993). GIFAP, the international umbrella organization of national associations of agrochemical companies, also recognized the problem and established a working group on unwanted pesticides to see how the pesticide industry could contribute to preventing obsolete pesticide stocks.