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Defra sets 2020 peat replacement target

Published: 22 December 2010
Defra has called for peat to be completely eliminated from the amateur gardener market by 2020.
Defra sets 2020 peat replacement target
A new consultation launched last week sees a proposal for peat use in all horticulture sectors to be eventually phased out. This includes proposals for the Government and public sector to be peat free by 2015, the retail market for amateur gardening by 2020 and the professional horticulture sector by 2030.

The consultation will be sent out to all interested parties, including DIY retailers and garden centres, and the deadline for all responses is March 11, 2011.

According to the consultation document, issued on December 17, more than two thirds of all the peat used in the UK is used by amateur gardeners, predominantly bought as bagged growing media for gardens and allotments.

The Government is now calling for all soil improvers to be peat free by 2013.

Many retailers, including Aylett Nurseries, B&Q, Homebase and Sainsbury's, are already working towards phasing out all or the majority of peat sales in their stores. B&Q is currently 55% peat free in its bagged growing media products.

The consultation also highlights the need to build consumer awareness of the environmental impacts associated with peat use. According to recent research from the Horticultural Trades Association (HTA), only 8% of keen gardeners are aware that peat extraction is contributing to climate change, while only 12% are aware of the harm it can cause to biodiversity and wildlife.

Opportunities for consumer campaigns are being explored, according to the document, while training on peat-free growing media will be provided for garden centre staff in England from early 2011. Further improvements in labelling are also planned for 2011 and are likely to be adopted by leading growing media manufacturers.

Jamie Robinson, technical director at Westland Horticulture, commented: “It is good to see the recognition of the work of the Growing Media Initiative in this document, of which Westland is a full member having achieved more than 55% peat free in our retail growing media products. Westland Horticulture will be making a response to the consultation process, having considered the impacts to the business and consumer of the proposed withdrawal of the use of peat in the retail market. Westland is committed to providing the consumer with high quality, high performance growing media at a price acceptable to consumers and continues to research for new products and suitable diluents and replacements for peat.”

A statement from the HTA has welcomed the new proposals, which allow time for consumers to change their buying habits and for adequate alternative materials to be sourced. A spokesperson said: "We welcome the recognition of the progress made by the Growing Media Initiative (GMI) in demonstrating that a voluntary industry approach is more effective than regulation. The GMI remains committed to leading the industry on peat reduction and will meet at the end of the consultation period to ensure that the scheme is fit for purpose to meet the new government targets."

The HTA will be responding in full to the consultation in due course, and is encouraging members to send their views to gary.scroby@the-hta.org.uk.

Comments

Published prior to March 2014
By Clive
Perhaps Defra would also like to look at some of the substitutes being sold at the moment - particularly by the multiples as a means to drive down retail prices and, presumably, retain margins.
Many resemble old kitchen units and include contaminated wood, silver paper etc.etc. Maybe some attention to a quality standard would be time well spent by the industry. There are certain own label brands that on even a personal basis I would never purchase again.

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