The irony of gardening is sometimes it’s really not that green. There’s the pesticides, the weedkillers, the endless watering, the invasive species… and don’t get us started on the power tools. But, if there’s one thing the green-fingered amongst us can all get behind, it’s the overuse of plastic plant pots. There are millions of these lurking behind garden sheds, destined for landfill or the incinerator once we have that big clear-out at the weekend.
The trouble with plant pots is they are made from polypropylene. In the past, this has been difficult to recycle because it melts at a different temperature to other plastics. Local authorities opted to recycle other types of plastic as they were more common and so polypropylene fell by the kerbside. This is no longer the case, however, old habits die hard and many consumers are unaware that sorting technology has become more widespread and economical and so most local authorities are now able to recycle it. So, unless told otherwise, put plant pots in the recycling.
If, indeed, you are told otherwise then you can find somewhere else to recycle them on Recycle Now. On this site, you can select a specific piece of waste (click Recycle a specific item and check plant pots under plastic packaging), enter your postcode and, boom, there’s an address where you can take them. Obviously, it defeats the object in carbon terms to make a special journey to the tip but, if you’re passing, like.
You may be lucky and have a garden centre near you that will take your old plant pots. They will bundle them up and have old pots taken to a recycling site on your behalf. But don’t think they are going back into the supply chain as plant pots, they are likely going to be crushed and recycled rather than reused.
Of course, the better solution is to buy plants that don’t come in plastic pots. The Hairy Pot Plant Company, based at Kirton Farm Nurseries, sells its plants in coir pots with peat-free compost and supplies nurseries and garden centres across the UK.