POSIpot – Countering the ‘convenience culture’ of plastic

As a customer when you buy a plant, you also buy a plastic pot…the pot is then your responsibility even if you have only used it to transport from shop to immediate planting. But, plant buyers are people who celebrate the environment and dislike  plastic waste. Plastic is a precious and powerful tool, the horticulture industry need to take responsibility for recycling pots.. cleaning and using them again and again. The chain must be broken, not replaced with so called ‘recyclable’ taupe or biodegradable pots.

 

 

As a grower and/or seller of plants POSIpot is your way to seriously address plastic waste.

  1. POSIpot are flat packed, self assembled and used at point of sale. We tend to have about 20 of each style ready to go.

  2. The plant must be well rooted, you tip out the plant from the pot in front of the customer.

  3. You can write the plant name on the deluxe wooden label or directly onto the POSIpot if required by customer. We have a customer self labeling system on site. No more single use plastic labels.

  4. You will need to develop a internal recycling procedure for your shop or nursery including washing pots and disposing of broken plastic in a responsible way.

  5.  POSIpots come in round or square form. We use it as part of our radical green selling processes…

We have called 2019 our ‘plastic year zero‘ and we have taken a narrative that ‘from 2019 it is now illegal to sell single use plastic as a product or packaging‘. We strongly believe that waiting for Government to legislate will not happen quickly enough, we need radical solutions now!

POSIpot is not a pot to grow plants in. It is a compostable transportation sleeve with integrated compostable plant label.

It’s a new way of thinking…what we have to except as growers ourselves we except that no alternative container material exists for growing the plant from seed, cutting or bareroot. Plastic is the only option for us as a nursery to do this and by not passing plastic pots on to our customers we are able to reuse our plastic over and over again.

We have tried growing in coir, earth block growing, cow dung pots and wooden pots and they are all unsuitable for commercial use. We will continue to grow the plants in our normal way but when we sell the plant we will remove the plug/plant with root and earth from the pot and we optionally prime with Mycorrhizal fungi.. put it in a POSIpot to be planted (completely) within 1 week of purchase.

Are Taupe Pots an answer?

This is a complicated question. Billions of pots are produced each year, black plastic is not recycled. Taupe (neutral coloured, sorted at suitably equipped waste processing plants) pots are being promoted (and heavily lobbying government) by the big producers and plastic pot manufacturers as a environmentally responsible solution. We say reduce, reuse and then as a last option, recycle. A lot needs to be considered with this new taupe process, very little plastic is actually recycled in the UK, it is generally shipped to the far east and a lot of countries are refusing to take it on environmental grounds. So a lot then goes for incineration. Can we afford not to try something different? Is it better for the pots not to be produced at all just for transportation?

Are Biodegradable pots an answer?

Biodegradable pots are made from bamboo or rice husk, problems surround the claims of compostability and the nature of the material means source materials or pots traveling halfway round the world to us. The process of making the pots takes a lot of resources and challenges in long term growing have seen growers return to plastic.

What is the POSIpot made from?

Quite simply it is made from easily compostable, low grade, UK produced, unbleached recycled cardboard. It has a slight sheen which slows water absorption from the interior which enables plants to sit outside of planting for about a week, but when planted the exterior paper rapidly absorbs moisture allowing it to compost in the soil. Unlike coir even fine roots rapidly break through the POSIpot when planted.

The Mycorrhizal fungi optional addition is a measure cast into the constructed POSIpot. The wooden label acts as a locking mechanism when the boxes are constructed, these are made from low grade pine and break down to nothing after a year in the soil.

So whats in it for us?

We are a business, we grow edibles like veg plants and herbs. We are also based at a school and any profits from POSIpots are going to be used to help set up a plastic recycling centre on the grounds run by students for the local community. Plastics from all sources will be sorted, shredded and made in to new products. All our waste plastic (broken pots) will be processed within a throwing distance of our nursery!

Like all the best inventions, the POSIpot came from a moment of clarity in the quietest room.It will make you change how you consider plastic, how you sell and buy your plants and, yes, it is more work…but customers love it. Are you brave enough to make the changes?

In our opinion, the majority of environmental damage caused to the planet has happened since the 1970’s. BBC’s Blue Planet 2 made us consider the use of plastics, global warming and nature collapse and address our personal responses to these issues. As individuals and businesses, we have the power to make change happen.

The core of the POSIpot concept is not about demonising plastic. Plastic has had huge benefits for mankind since its inception in the 20th century in the form of Bakelite, but it has been the move from its use as a ‘tool’ to its unconsidered use as a ‘convenience item’ from the 1970’s onwards which has changed how we consume it, and has caused/is causing huge environmental damage.

It is not a understatement to say billions of plastic pots are produced every year around the world and that the vast majority are not recycled… so where do they go? Most recycled waste in the UK is incinerated or exported ‘out of sight’ to the Far East. New recyclable taupe pots are being rolled out but we do not see this as the solution for the horticultural industry going forward. We firmly believe reduce, reuse and then as a last resort, recycle.

Plastic pot usage has allowed for plants in UK gardens to become accessible to all over the last 40 years, but it is our belief that returning the plastic pot to the responsibility of the horticultural industry will allow for safe, sustainable management going forward, with continued ‘in-house’ use only. We must promote environmentally aware grass root nurseries to grow a  diverse, disease resistant and healthy range of plants for UK gardens. We felt our plastic use and distribution was not something we needed to consider.. now we have control as a business and we have broken the plastic chain.

Our idea is simple and we use POSIpots in our own nursery and garden centre. Its just feels the right thing to do and our customers love it!

POSIpot has stopped 1000’s of pots from being wasted, it has allowed us to take control of our business’s biggest waste problem…plastic. Plastic as a growing tool is brilliant, but as a way to transport a plant from garden centre or nursery to home is a complete waste of material and does not make sense.