In recent months, there has been significant media interest regarding our society’s excessive consumption of plastics; in particular, non-recyclables.
Wetherspoons recently led a (rapidly spreading) movement to abolish plastic straws, whilst Waitrose vowed that all own-label packaging will be widely recyclable, reusable, or home compostable by 2025.
Not only is eco-consciousness a hot topic, but we also feel it is imperative to the sustainability of our eco-systems. As an industry which relies on plastic in a huge way, we felt it was about time we looked to see what we could do to reduce our own non-recyclable output.
The ‘carbon black’ dye most commonly used in the production of plant pots/trays renders the plastic as not widely recyclable, because the lasers used in sorting refuse are unable to detect the colour effectively.
Even non-black pots almost invariably have a black lining. In the past, this has meant that over 3 million pots and 400,000 trays a year leave our nursery each year, without the potential to be repurposed - most likely ending up on a landfill site, with only a lucky few being re-used in a customer’s garden or being recycled (often for a cost) at a specialised facility.
Step 1- The Pot
We are proud to be the first UK grower to introduce Teku Blue- a WRAP certified ‘non-black’ pot (unsurprisingly, it’s blue) which is not only made from 100% Post-Consumer recycled materials - the contents of the general public’s recycling bins, no less - but is also easily identified as a recyclable material by sorting machinery and so is widely recyclable as part of council waste collections.
For 2018, we will be using this pot for all of our Summer 10.5cm and 13cm production, totalling just over 300,000 pots which won’t be doomed to landfill.
Step 2- The Tray
With regards to trays, we’ve gone one step further, becoming the first UK bedding grower to purchase Modiform’s market leading EcoExpert tray, a moulded fibre tray made from the pulp of recycled paper, meaning it is biodegradable, recyclable and, perhaps most fittingly for horticulture, compostable.
Despite being made from paper, the trays are arguably stronger than their plastic counterparts and will hold water for an impressive 6 weeks before showing signs of decomposition, making them more than a match for old plastic trays.
The tray is currently only available in one format, a 6x13cm - we have already purchased over 40,000 of these trays, enough to accommodate every 13 cm Teku Blue pot on the nursery.
We feel that the combination of tray and pot sets our stock apart, most importantly in terms of the vastly improved eco-impact, but also by offering a pleasing, rustic aesthetic.
Not only have we absorbed the additional cost of supplying these products to our centres, we also intend to offer a collect and reuse service, further benefitting the environment and the Garden Centres (who would most often need to pay for black plastic disposal), whilst also mitigating our own cost control.
We hope to further minimise our use of ‘black plastic’ over coming seasons as more alternatives become available; Teku are already in the process of expanding their ‘Blue’ pot formats, including as bedding packs, whilst we are assisting Modiform with trials working towards a moulded fibre, compostable growing pot.
We endeavor to maintain our position at the forefront of eco-advances in the UK bedding industry, and to assist our Garden Centres in offering sustainable solutions to their customers.