Black plas­tic pot re­place­ments, bee-killing hor­nets scare

Amateur Gardening - - This Week In Gardening -

AM­A­TEUR Gar­den­ing is back­ing moves within the hor­ti­cul­tural in­dus­try to re­place black pots with re­cy­clable al­ter­na­tives. One-use plas­tic is cur­rently Pub­lic En­emy No 1 thanks to the BBC na­ture series Blue Planet and Gar­den­ers’ World pre­sen­ter Monty Don, who has moved to­wards us­ing degrad­able coir sub­sti­tutes. Black plas­tic has a bad press be­cause it con­tains a car­bon pig­ment that isn’t picked up by in­frared re­cy­cling sort­ing ma­chines, which means it can’t be re­cy­cled through kerb­side schemes and ends up in land­fill.

Now lead­ing plant grow­ers led by Worces­ter-based Brans­ford Webbs have got to­gether and are work­ing with plas­tic pot man­u­fac­tur­ers to re­place black pots with re­cy­clable taupe al­ter­na­tives.

The new pots will be phased in over the next 12-18 months and will be in gar­den cen­tres by next sum­mer.

Brans­ford Webbs man­ag­ing di­rec­tor Adrian Marskell ex­plained: “The in­dus­try de­cided to get to­gether and come up with a so­lu­tion to the prob­lem of re­cy­cling black pots. Taupe pots were the re­sult.

“They are made by the ma­jor pot man­u­fac­tur­ers, and then plant sup­pli­ers such as our­selves will use them when we sup­ply our plants. We have closed the loop – gar­den­ers buy plants in th­ese pots, put them in re­cy­cling and they are made back into new pots.”

Mr Marskell added that the pots can be washed and reused if wanted. The only down­side is a small price in­crease.

“We have closed the loop for re­cy­cling pots”

Coir is good but more ex­pen­sive

The Hairy Plant Pot Com­pany, based at Kir­ton Farm Nurs­ery in Hamp­shire, sup­plies plants in coir pots made by hand in a vil­lage in Sri Lanka. Their USP is that the coir de­grades, al­low­ing plant roots to push through and spread in­stead of cir­cling the root­ball, as can hap­pen in a plas­tic pot.

The busi­ness uses re­us­able wood trays and plant la­bels, and is cur­rently de­vel­op­ing wa­ter­proof card la­bels, which will mean that all the prod­ucts are made from sus­tain­able ma­te­ri­als.

Com­pany di­rec­tor Derek Tay­lor said: “We have been see­ing more in­ter­est in our pots and an in­crease in sales year-on-year, so this has been a good year so far.”

He added that while coir and wood prod­ucts look at­trac­tive and are a good re­place­ment for plas­tic, they are more ex­pen­sive to make and buy.

Mr Tay­lor said: “It costs a lot more money than sim­ply spot­ting out a plas­tic pot that is cheap, easy to make and can be eas­ily washed and reused.”

The pub­lic is widely be­hind the in­dus­try’s move to re­duce one-use plas­tic and many gar­den cen­tres have al­ready in­tro­duced have pot re­cy­cling schemes – ask your lo­cal one if they re­cy­cle and en­cour­age them to do so. AG COLUM­NIST Pe­ter Seabrook thinks there are more con­tro­ver­sial mat­ters than gar­den­ers’ pots when it comes to dis­cussing the is­sue of one-use plas­tic.

He says that gar­den­ers are ‘a soft touch’ and the prob­lem lies with the equip­ment used in re­cy­cling screen­ing cen­tres, which can’t pick out the black pots due to their car­bon con­tent.

Pe­ter said: “I think it would be bet­ter if we paid more at­ten­tion to­wards the lit­ter dropped cross the coun­try that blows into our rivers.

“From what I un­der­stand, black plas­tic pots aren’t re­cy­clable be­cause the sort­ing equip­ment can’t pick out the black, but that they could be re­cy­cled if dif­fer­ent equip­ment were in­tro­duced.”

He added that the new ‘bat­tle­ship grey’ pots will be more ex­pen­sive in the short term and may not last as long as the black ones once the car­bon has been re­moved.

Pe­ter also urged gar­den­ers to wash and re­use their black and red pots wher­ever pos­si­ble.

He said: “I re­use my pots re­peat­edly by wash­ing them af­ter use. I have some small square plas­tic pots that fit in a tray – I use them two or three times a year for sow­ing and cut­tings and I have been us­ing the same ones for more than 50 years.

“I go into hos­pi­tals and re­tire­ment homes where the staff wear blue plas­tic gloves that they throw away af­ter each use. Shouldn’t we be pay­ing at­ten­tion to that, rather than pots?

“And what about peo­ple who dump lit­ter? Driv­ers are pros­e­cuted for go­ing 5mph over the speed limit, but why aren’t lit­ter-drop­pers pros­e­cuted?”

New taupe pots are a durable re­place­ment to black plas­tic and can be re­cy­cled in your kerb­side bins Reused pots will last for years

Coir pots can be ex­pen­sive

Pe­ter’s views on plas­tic

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