Activities of international organizations relevant to pesticide disposal

Activities of international organizations relevant to pesticide disposal


   IRPTC was established by UNEP in 1976. Its central unit, known as the Programming Activity Centre, was set up in Geneva. After UNCED in 1992, IRPTC also became part of a newly established UNEP programme on toxic chemicals and waste management. One of IRPTC's key activities is the development of data profiles on chemical substances (including information on regulatory controls). Information is also available on recommended disposal methods for individual products and IRPTC provides a query-response service.

Basel Convention

   The following is a summary of paper received from the UNEP Secretariat to the Basel Convention.


   The Basel Convention is first and foremost a global environmental treaty that strictly regulates the transboundary movements of hazardous wastes and makes obligations on parties for ensuring the environmentally sound management and disposal of hazardous wastes.
The convention recognizes that the most effective way of protecting human health and the environment from the danger posed by such wastes is the reduction of their generation to a minimum in terms of quantity and/or hazard potential. This, together with the environmentally sound management of the hazardous wastes nonetheless generated, is the underlying philosophy behind the objectives set in the Convention. In this respect, the Basel Convention stipulates three main interdependent and mutually supportive goals that have to be fulfilled:

  • transboundary movements of hazardous wastes should be reduced to a minimum consistent with their environmentally sound management;
  • hazardous wastes should be treated and disposed of as close as possible to their source of generation;
  • hazardous waste generation should be reduced and minimized at source.

   Recognizing the increasing desire and demand of the international community for the prohibition of transboundary movements of hazardous wastes and their disposal, especially in developing countries, the second meeting of the Conference of the Parties, held from 21 to 25 March 1994 in Geneva, less than two years after the entry into force of the Convention (May 1992), adopted a decision establishing the immediate prohibition of all transboundary movements of hazardous wastes which are destined for final disposal from OECD to non-OECD countries.
   The transboundary movement of hazardous wastes destined for recycling or recovery operations is to be phased out by 31 December 1997 and prohibited as from that date. This transitional period has been seen as necessary to enable those concerned with such movements to take appropriate measures consistent with the environmentally sound management of wastes.
   At its second meeting the Conference of the Parties adopted 27 decisions which constitute a comprehensive work programme in the sphere of the environmentally sound management of hazardous wastes and which contain legal, technical and financial components that are essential for the effective and efficient implementation of the Basel Convention. The mandate of the Legal Working Group was extended in order to finalize its work on a protocol on liability and compensation to be submitted to the next meeting of the Conference of the Parties scheduled for September 1995. The conference adopted a manual to facilitate the implementation of the convention and a strategy to prevent and monitor illegal traffic in hazardous wastes. The parties have also accepted a model national legislation in order to assist parties and non-parties to revise their national legislation in relation to the management of hazardous waste.
   Decisions were taken to pursue the selection of sites for the establishment of regional centres for training and technology transfer regarding the management of hazardous wastes and the minimization of their generation, and on assisting parties to develop training programmes on the implementation of the convention and the environmentally sound management of hazardous wastes. One of the main tasks of the secretariat is to cooperate with, assist and respond to the needs of the parties in the implementation of the convention and of the decisions adopted by the meetings of the Conference of the Parties. In view of the fact that the implementation of the convention and its supporting decisions also have an impact on countries that are not Party to the Convention, the secretariat plays an active role in assisting them or by providing information or guidance on the environmentally sound management of hazardous wastes and its related institutional and legal requirements.


By H. R. Rathor, Regional Adviser, Chemical Safety and Vector Biology and Control, WHO/EMRO, Cairo, Egypt

   WHO publishes health and safety guides that contain data for individual products. These guides are very useful as reference material when organizing disposal operations.
   A special report was presented by Mr. Rathor, Regional Advisor on Chemical Safety and Vector Biology and Control, at the WHO Eastern Mediterranean Region Regional Office (WHO/EMRO). In his presentation, Mr Rathor, provided some examples of obsolete stocks in the Sudan, Yemen and Pakistan.
   It was emphasized that most developing countries do not have the technical and financial resources to arrange for shipment to a dedicated hazardous waste incinerator in a developed country. In this connection, Mr. Rathor stressed the importance of conducting analysis before declaring pesticides obsolete. Products may not have completely lost their efficacy and may still be usable. For instance, old stocks of DDT, malathion and fenitrothion could possibly still be used for public health programmes if analysis would confirm that they are still safe and usable, even at reduced efficacy1. Use of such pesticides would make great savings on expensive disposal operations and on the importation of pesticides for public health programmes. Such analysis could be requested from a WHO collaborating cente for pesticide analysis.
   The importance of cooperation among WHO, UNEP and FAO on this matter was underlined.

1 Malathion should be tested on the presence of isomalathion, a breakdown product that increases the product's toxicity and may makes it unsuitable for a variety of purposes.


By G.E. Wyrwal, Agricultural Officer (Pesticide Information), Plant Protection Service, AGPP, FAO

The code of conduct on the distribution and use of pesticides

   The objectives of the code are to set forth responsibilities and establish standards of conduct for all public and private entities engaged in or effecting the distribution and use of pesticides, particularly where there is little or no adequate national law to regulate pesticides. The code describes the shared responsibility of governments, industry, trade and international institutions to work together so that the benefits obtained from the necessary and acceptable use of pesticides are achieved without significant adverse effects on people or the environment. The standards of conduct set forth by the code encourage responsible trade practices and assist countries to establish controls that regulate the quality and suitability of pesticide products needed in the country and to address the safe handling and use of such products. The code of conduct is voluntary, its basic function is as a point of reference, particularly until such time as countries have established adequate regulatory infrastructures for pesticides.
   The panel is composed of four working groups: the group on pesticide specifications; the group on registration requirements; the group on application standards; and the joint FAO/UNEP group on prior informed consent.
   The expert group on pesticide specifications meets annually to review proposed specifications which have been prepared through consultations with government scientists, the pesticide industry through GIFAP and, when appropriate, with individual manufacturers. By mid-1994, 170 specifications were available. To facilitate the development and use of these specifications, FAO published a Manual on the development and use of FAO specifications for plant protection products. The manual contains detailed definitions and other background information on basic procedures and technical principles. It provides advice, instruction and information to all those involved in the development or application of specifications for plant protection products.

FAO specifications for plant protection products

   FAO specifications are published for pesticides and related formulations with the objective of ensuring, as far as possible, that the pesticides complying with them are satisfactory for the purpose for which they are intended. Specifications provide: a basic standard of quality for the buying and selling of pesticides; assistance in the official approval and acceptance of pesticides; assistance to manufacturers in dealing with national and other specifications; and cover protection for vendors against inferior products and against the linkage between biological efficacy and specification requirements.
   The FAO specifications for plant protection products are designed to reflect generally acceptable product standards. They may be used as an international point of reference against which products can be judged, either for regulatory purposes or in commercial dealings, thus helping to prevent trade in inferior products. They define the essential chemical and physical properties linked to certain biological requirements for a product and are also useful references for analysing old products to determine whether they are still usable. For a list of FAO specifications see Annex 3.

Guidelines on good labelling practice

   The guidelines provide detailed advice for the preparation of labels and incorporate information on pictograms. They are separated into four sections which:

  • identify the objectives in preparing a label;
  • identify the information that must appear on the label;
  • provide instructions on writing labels that are of maximum clarity and that take into consideration the knowledge of users;
  • discuss toxicity and hazard classifications and product/user categories.

   They also include examples of labels, hazard statements, agricultural practice statements and summaries of specific and generic label contents. Poor labels are a reason for pesticides not being used and becoming obsolete. Compliance with the FAO Guidelines will help avoid this.

Guidelines on tender procedures for the procurement of pesticides

   The code of conduct does not address the issue of procurement procedures as such, however, it does make specific reference to the conditions or factors which must be considered in tendering, bidding and purchasing of products. The draft guidelines on tender procedures for the procurement of pesticides attempt to identify and include certain basic principles and practices that are of fundamental importance to all procurement operations. They were developed by a task force and were the subject of a workshop in Montpellier in April 1994. The guidelines are published as provisional guidelines and are subject to approval in the near future.
   The objective of the guidelines is to address the basic principles and practices that should be followed by those procuring and supplying pesticides and they are designed to ensure that pesticides obtained are of the quality required, that they are adequately packaged and labelled and that the cost of the selected product is justified. Guidelines should be used not only by private procurers but also, or perhaps mainly, by relevant government agencies and others concerned and should be acceptable at both the national and international level.
   For copies of Guidelines on tender procedures for the procurement of pesticides, List of guidelines developed in support of the FAO code of conduct on the distribution and use of pesticides and Code on specifications for plant protection products requests may be sent to the Chief, Plant Protection Service, FAO, Viale delle Terme di Caracalle, Rome, Italy.

Pesticide bank

By G.E. Wyrwal, Agricultural Officer (Pesticide Information), Plant Protection Service, AGPP, FAO

Background. A pesticide bank arises out of three main factors:

  • previous locust campaigns have resulted in strategic stocks accumulating in many affected countries;
  • strategic stocks have also accumulated in countries where infestation was probable;
  • in some cases declining locust infestation has left large quantities of unused stocks of insecticides or the total quantity and type of formulation did not allow full use of the stocks.

Modalities of the pesticide bank. The control activities to be carried out by the pesticide bank's national and/or international implementing authority comprise:

  • continuous monitoring of the insecticide stocks available in countries that are endangered by desert locusts;
  • continuous monitoring of the consumption of insecticides per day, per week and per fortnight;
  • continuous monitoring of scheduled insecticide shipments;
  • in the case of a clearly foreseeable shortage of insecticides, the release of a shipment from the pesticide bank;
  • replenishment of the pesticide bank as necessary.

Tender procedure. The procedures for tender are as follows:

  • quantities are variable;
  • there are no storage costs as there are no formulated products;
  • promised delivery to airport and departure within three days;
  • delivery to all relevant airports of locust-affected countries;
  • the contract is valid for 180 days;
  • replenishment of stock guaranteed for one year with the same options.

Problems. The pesticide bank faces the following problems and issues:

  • the price per litre, including transport, is around US$2 higher compared to standard tender, fixed destination and normal delivery after order procedure
  • sufficient financial resources are required;
  • financial resources cannot be tied to specific countries;
  • funds are to be as flexible as possible in order to keep open the possibility of delivering to any country in urgent need of insecticides;
  • donors have to realize that special funds (expendable equipment) are required for this purpose.

Negotiations. The price per unit can be reduced through regular renewal of tender procedure for the pesticide bank. The pesticide bank should not be contracted to just one company; regular tender should continue. Towards the end of the locust plague, there was an indication that:

  • transport costs can still be optimized through full, instead of partial loading of the aeroplane and through the use of freight aircraft with huge pesticide tanks;
  • transport costs per unit of insecticide can be optimized.

Advantages of the pesticide bank. A pesticide bank has the following advantages:

  • no storage of pesticide is required, not even at the point of manufacturing;
  • close monitoring of stock consumption and scheduled shipments mean that undesired shipment of pesticides (oversupply) is unlikely to occur;
  • at the end of the plague there is no obsolete stock and no disposal or related costs;
  • pesticide companies are very interested in getting orders from pesticide banks, even though delivery terms and costs are different;
  • options include no obligation to buy the order if it was not used and extensions to the period for which the contract is valid, beyond the usual six months;
  • even though additional costs of US$2 per litre are incurred by the pesticide bank, these are likely to be outweighed by savings on costs that would otherwise be incurred for the disposal of obsolete stocks or repair of damage caused by heavy contamination of soils and water as a result of leaking obsolete stocks.


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