The South West London Gardener

How Recycling Plastic Bags and Plant Pots is Changing

recycling bin

Most gardens that we work on have a need for compost and bark chips.

These have many benefits, not just on the visual aspect of a space, but also helping to protect the plants that are being grown.

There is an issue with this though, and that is the packaging that these materials come in.

Here at The Southwest London Gardener, we believed in natural gardening, and all of our team have a real passion for helping the environment.

That’s why we want to be able to recycle and reuse as much of the materials we use as possible, and thankfully, these tricky plastic bags are now able to join the list of recyclable items thanks to a new initiative.

Let’s find out more.

compost in trowel

The Issues with Recycling Plastic Bags and Pots

Many garden materials delivered or bought in plastic bags, and throughout gardens all over the UK, plastic pots are used to house plants.

Many eco-friendly gardeners shudder when they hear the term ‘plastic’ as for many years it has been seen as unrecyclable.

In fact, a plastic bottle can take around 450 years to decompose.

One plastic bottle may not seem like a major issue, but when you consider 100 million plastic bags are used for compost, soil, and chipped bark every year, you can see the severity of this issue.

Unfortunately, most of these bags end up in landfill as they are made from a material called low-density polyethylene (LPDE).

This is a material that is tricky to recycle and can cause issues in the sorting and reprocessing infrastructure, leading to many local authorities refusing to take it as part of the recycling.

Plastic Bag Recycling at a Garden Centre Near You

Things are about to change when it comes to recycling your plastic compost bags.

Three huge companies have joined forces to create a scheme which will revolutionise the way we deal with these items. They are:

  • Dobbies – This is the UK’s largest garden centre chain and these will be responsible for having a bin in 81 stores throughout the UK in which people can dispose of their compost bags.
  • Veolia – These are a UK waste management company who are working with garden centres and other brands to sustainably remove their waste bags and create new products with the recycled materials.
  • Miracle-Gro – One of the leading brands of garden products including compost are working with the other two companies to reuse the recycled materials that comes from the waste.

These three are working together to use their skills as one and finally create a solution that will eradicate the issues caused by the disposal of these bags, and we can’t wait to put their initiative into use at our local Dobbies garden centre.

You can also visit Squire’s Garden Centre, who are also taking part in the initiative and will gladly take your compost bags as well.

ground with compost on it

The Estimated Results of the Initiative

We mentioned earlier in the blog that 100 million plastic bags are used for compost and soil, and there is no doubt that this is a huge number.

The initiative aims to recycle around 40 million of these, stopping them from going to landfill where they can take many centuries to decompose.

This would save around 22,000 tonnes of CO2 a year, or a whopping 70% of emissions associated with the production of new plastic.

These figures are astronomical and would represent a huge shift in the overall emissions our industry emits.

The results so far have been promising, with bins being used all over the country and no contamination that could affect the process being spotted.

There are already signs that things are moving quickly, and more and more garden centres want to install one of these bins to keep the momentum going.

One of the reasons we wanted to write this blog, was to keep spreading the word about this new method of compost bag disposal.

Whether you’re a gardening firm working on huge projects, or simply someone working on a small patch of your own garden, you can start to make a difference today by heading over to your nearest Dobbies store and locating their dedicated bin.

The Benefits of Recycling LDPE Plastic from Your Garden

There are many benefits to recycling LDPE plastic, including the reduced emissions mentioned earlier in the blog, and also these three common advantages:

  • Reducing Waste – As this material takes so long to decompose, the amount of waste ends up building up over the years as more and more bags are added. By recycling this material, we can start to reduce the size of the landfills were these are currently disposed of and protect our natural resources.
  • Conserving Resources – There are many ways that you can reuse the recycled material that you get from LDPR plastic, including creating new bags or turning it into garden furniture. This reduces the need for new products and new plastic to be used which will cut down the emission and energy put into manufacturing these items. It takes less energy to recycle LDPE plastic then it does to produce it new, so you’re already making a saving in this department.
  • Preventing Pollution – Many items that are placed in landfill across the world end up contributing to global pollution. Especially when it takes so long to decompose, there is a real chance of these bags causing litter or ocean pollution for example which can be harmful to local nature and wildlife.
Plant pots recycled on a local Facebook page
Plant pots recycled on a local Facebook page

Natural Gardening with The Southwest London Gardener

The aim of our team is to work responsibly and sustainably, using natural materials and always disposing of our waste in the most eco-friendly way possible.

This is why we are always looking for ways to reuse items that we no longer need. For example, we recently went on our local Facebook page offering some free plant pots that we had to take from a garden. This is a great way of making sure these items find a good home, and we managed to send over 100 pots over the space of a fortnight.

These pots ended up in gardens, allotments, and more and many people took advantage of this, as seen in the image above where our larger pots blended perfectly with some smaller ones the recipient already had.

While finding a way to do this with our plastic compost bags has historically been tricky, this new initiative will make a huge difference, and help us become even more environmentally friendly as a whole.

If you would like to speak about our natural methods of gardening, or would like to discuss a project or how we can revamp your garden, contact our team today.