An online survey designed to determine gardener user habits in relation to purchase, storage,
use and disposal of plant protection products was carried out by the Health and Safety
Executive from 1 May 2019 to 2 June. This followed a similar approach to the first online
survey carried out in 2013 by Resource Futures. The survey was limited to responses about
plant protection products (amateur pesticides to protect and control plants).
The questionnaire remained largely the same as in previous years and retained the expanded
disposal section that was introduced in the 2013 survey. This section split all possible answers
by product type (eg ready-to-use and concentrate). Questions were asked to ascertain whether
respondents disposed of containers with product still in the container, whether they removed
the lid/cap/trigger spray handle, whether they rinsed the container before disposal, and about
the disposal route of rinsings. One additional question asked respondents how they obtained
information about disposal of products.
Of the respondents to the survey, 495 used plant protection products and these included
gardeners in all age categories and all gardener ‘types’ although the highest category of
respondents were the keen and regular gardeners (59%) and those aged over 45 (77%). The
most popular types of product purchased were weedkillers, slug/snail killers and insecticides.
The majority of respondents purchased between one and two products a year.
The most popular storage location continued to be the garden shed (62%), followed by the
garage (37%). Of respondents, 21% stated they used some form of safety precaution for
storing plant protection products (ie high shelf or locked cupboard). Just under half of the
respondents stored products for up to two years (42%), 13% of whom stored products for less
than a year.
In terms of product use, 61% of respondents stated they read the instructions on how to use
the product before purchasing and 51% would read before they used the product for the first
time. The majority (94%) of respondents stated the instructions for use provided with the
product were clear, and a similar percentage of respondents (96%) claimed to follow the
instructions either ‘very closely’ or ‘fairly closely’. Less than half of the respondents (40%) used
ready-to-use products only, compared to 20% using concentrate products only, while 40%
stated they used both ready-to-use and concentrate products. The majority of respondents who
used concentrate products used the measuring device/cap provided to measure the volume of
concentrate product required when diluting (84%).
The majority of respondents used up the contents of plant protection products before disposing
of the empty container (70% for ready-to-use and 74% for concentrate products). For those
disposing of the container with ready-to-use product in the container, nearly half disposed in
the normal household bin (53%).
The highest proportion of respondents using ready-to-use plant protection products disposed of
the empty container in the household recycling bin/bag used for kerbside collection (65%),
while 39% of respondents disposed of the empty container in the normal household bin.
Similarly, the largest percentage of respondents using concentrate products disposed of the
empty container in household recycling bin/bag used for kerbside collection (45%), while 40%
of respondents disposed of the empty container in the normal household bin.
This report set outs the findings from the 2019 survey in detail, and also compares them to
previous years (2007, 2010, 2013 and 2016).