Metaldehyde is used in gardening products to protect plants from slugs and snails and is found in most garden sheds. But experts warn it can cause significant harm to wildlife and can pollute rivers. Levels of metaldehyde found in UK waterways are often higher than EU standards. As a result, in December, the UK government announced it will ban outdoor use of the chemical from 2020.
Kingfisher is adding several chemical-free alternatives to its gardening range this month, following years of product development with suppliers and partners. Together, they studied slug behaviour to develop unique products that can protect plants without using harmful toxins.
The Safe By Nature range includes copper tape - a natural slug repellent - and wool mats and pellets which are rough on slug feet. The range has been developed to be just as effective as chemical products, whilst providing additional environmental benefits, such as releasing nutrients into the soil and protecting plants from weeds. Other products include slug traps, imitation wasp nests and improved sonic repellers.
Kingfisher started development after listening to thousands of customers across Europe who said they want to do more to cultivate their gardens in a way that uses natural and sustainable materials, uses fewer harmful chemicals and is better for nature and wildlife.
Tim Clapp, Head of Horticulture at Kingfisher, said: "We know customers care a great deal about their gardens. They want to do more to encourage nature and cultivate their green spaces in a way that is good for them and the environment. But that is not always easy to do.
That is why we have worked for several years to remove metaldehyde from our supply chain, making it simpler for customers to make sustainable choices and providing real alternatives. We welcome the recent government decision to introduce regulation so others will follow in removing it from shelves."
Dame Polly Courtice, Director, University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership, said: "Businesses have a big role to play in supporting consumers to make more sustainable choices in their everyday lives and decisions. Kingfisher is to be congratulated for making more sustainable choices the norm for gardeners."
Dr Sally Uren, Chief Executive at Forum for the Future said: "In order to accelerate change when it comes to the use of chemicals in our everyday lives, more emphasis needs to be placed on alternative methods and products. We hope more companies will follow suit and take a proactive approach."
Kingfisher's move to cease selling products that contain metaldehyde marks the latest milestone in the company's Sustainable Growth Plan which sets out its goal to phase out harmful chemicals and become a Net Positive business. Kingfisher point out it is not the first time the business has moved ahead of regulation. In 2017, B&Q became the first retailer to ban neonicotinoids from its flowering plant range and the EU followed suit by issuing a Europe-wide ban to protect insects.