The Garden Centre Association (GCA) has announced it is encouraging its members to do what they can to help reduce the amount of plastic going to landfill. Two of its member centres recently worked with Herefordshire and Worcestershire authorities to get non-black PP plastic pots and trays accepted in household and kerbside recycling bins.
Will Blake, director at St Peter’s Garden Centre in Norton, Worcester, said: “There has been a lot of discussions among GCA members about how we can help reduce plastic waste, especially as there is a large amount of it in the garden centre industry currently.
“Myself, along with Nick Baker at Webbs of Wychbold garden centre at Droitwich Spa, have recently been in touch with the local authorities to see how we could help.
“Nick wrote to the local councils, only to find out, that many will not accept plastic plant pots in recycling, however I visited the reprocessing plant for our counties and discussed it further with them. They had heard of the taupe plant pot and welcomed a visit to discuss the situation. I took a whole selection of PP pots with me – Popplemann Teku, Taupe, black and also some trays.
“We put all the pot types through the plant, and the good news is that, every single non-black PP pot was identified by the infrared scanners and sorted into its correct plastic category.
“The particular company I visited, Severn Waste Services, were extremely helpful, and really appreciated my input. Within a week of the visit, they had updated their website (which lists exactly what can and can’t be placed in the recycling bins) and they met with the county council to advise of the acceptance of non-black PP plant pots, which is great news for the people of Herefordshire and Worcestershire.”
All non-black PP plastic pots and trays can be accepted in household and kerbside recycling in the Herefordshire and Worcestershire areas.
Mr Blake added: “As garden centres, St Peter’s and Webbs of Wychbold are now actively advertising this to our customers, both instore using posters, but also through social media.
“We were initially inspired to do something about this issue after David Chilvers of Bransford Webbs Plant Company, which is a GCA Associate Member, pioneered a taupe pot initiative in 2018.
“A group made up of the largest growers in the UK, came together and established that they needed to change the colour of the plant pot, to enable them to be recycled. This has now been widely adopted and the majority of plants grown in the UK, from spring 2019, are now done so in recyclable PP plant pots.”
Representatives from the horticultural industry have cracked down on plastic recycling initiatives, in March a number of them visited Viridor’s Plastics Recovery Facility in Rochester, Kent to find out more about the plastics recycling process and the demand for polypropylene for recycling.
A meeting of the Nursery Working Group on June 6 demonstrated the substantial progress made by the industry towards the adoption of kerbside recyclable non-black plant pots. Growers attending the meeting reported that they have all moved away from using black pots and have either switched all production to non-black recyclable pots or are on track to do so for 2020. There have been no reports of any issues with growing in the recyclable replacements and they have been well received by customers and consumers alike.
Iain Wylie, chief executive of the GCA, said: “We’re keen as an Association that as much plastic is recycled as possible and doesn’t go to landfill, and we all need to do our bit in this fight, so it is great to see some of our members taking it upon themselves to help not only their own garden centre customers, but whole counties.”