The end of metaldehyde

21 February 2022

Products containing metaldehyde will soon be banned in the UK, but alternatives are available.

From 1st April 2022, metaldehyde will join a growing list of banned active ingredients that can no longer be used in the UK.

From this date, it will be illegal to use metaldehyde products. This is the culmination of a year-long phasing-out process, whereby distributors were prohibited from selling metaldehyde products from 1st April 2021.

The move follows advice from the UK Expert Committee on Pesticides and the Health and Safety Executive about the possible risks that metaldehyde poses to birds and mammals. Continued adherence to enhanced metaldehyde stewardship guidelines is key. This best practice will also help maintain other product authorisations.

Measures that you can implement

  • Using minimum active ingredient to avoid drainage and run-off losses (210 a.s/ha)
  • Avoiding application if heavy rain is forecast or drains are flowing
  • Ensuring application is 10m+ away from any field boundary or watercourse


Products containing ferric phosphate offer an alternative solution. They are widely available and similar in effectiveness and application method to metaldehyde products.

Ferric phosphate has an improved environmental profile, having no buffer zone restrictions. Despite these similarities, the two actives differ greatly in the way they kill pests following uptake. Metaldehyde rapidly kills snails and slugs by causing them to dehydrate, and effective application can often be verified by the presence of slug carcasses. Ferric phosphate on the other
hand acts more slowly, with slugs retreating underground before dying. This means that the presence of dead slugs will be less
important in measuring effective molluscicide application.

With ferric phosphate, it is much more important to monitor crops to see if damage has ceased. If you still have metaldehyde products come 1st April, you must dispose of them responsibly. Banned pesticides are likely to be treated as 'hazardous waste', meaning that disposal is tightly controlled.

Lawful disposal

Lawful disposal will require the use of a carrier registered with NRW and a licensed waste-disposal contractor.

HSE recommends:

  • Pass unwanted products to a licensed waste disposal contractor. As the waste producer it is your responsibility to ensure the contractor can transport material safely and is registered to do so.
  • If you can transport your unwanted pesticides safely and legally, you can take these to a licensed disposal site after checking whether the site will accept it.

Ask us a question about this page

Once you have submitted your query someone from NFU Cymru will contact you. If needed, your query will then be passed to the appropriate NFU policy team.

You have 0 characters remaining.

By completing the form with your details on this page, you are agreeing to have this information sent to the NFU for the purposes of contacting you regarding your enquiry. Please take time to read the NFU’s Privacy Policy if you require further information.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.