1000 Flowers for the Planet - #153 Return Plastic Pots to the Nursery
The plant nursery trade is responsible for the production and waste of millions and millions of plastic pots that are, more often than not, single use plastic which is dumped into landfill. Unfortunately the fact that these pots are cheap to produce, easy to transport, and have allowed the industry to grow into industrial scale production of plants everywhere, has created a waste issue that is being overlooked and under-addressed.
Before the invention of plastic pots, nurseries were exactly what the name implies – they were places where plants were grown in the ground. Customers would make their purchases, which were then carefully dug from the ground with as much root ball as possible, then wrapped in hessian for transporting home where the plant would be replanted into the customer’s garden. Other methods were to sell plants bare rooted or in terracotta pots.
The nursery industry has made some minor attempts at addressing the problem of plastic pot waste, including schemes whereby the customer may return the pot to the nursery for recycling. A major hardware retailer in Australia used to collect plastic plant pots for reuse and recycling but sadly they don’t do this anymore. So I checked vigorously for a nursery in my area that would take back the plastic pots and found not one. I did find a nursery in Sydney but the 885 kilometre drive sort of put me off. I also found good lists of places in the United States and Canada where pots can be recycled, which is a huge tick for those countries’ initiative at addressing this problem.
Australia needs to pick up its game. When buying plants from your local nursery, ask them if they recycle their pots, and if not, suggest they do and encourage them to take up the challenge, or shop at a nursery which will.