The fist idea that comes to mind to reduce plastic is to use other containers. This sounds like a great idea, but there are some major drawbacks. Peat type pots only have a limited life so you can only use them for certain things. Hanging baskets work well, but not too much else. They're also very bulky which means fewer pots on a truck, hence more shipping, and more wasted energy. Coir or coconut fiber pots are a new alternative coming around, but coconuts don't grow in Canada so now we're shipping this stuff across the ocean. That doesn't help much either. Plus, you still need a plastic tag or a plastic cover on the pot so you know what plant you get. To me, that doesn't help.
If you ask me, the best thing we can do is recycle. But when it comes to recycling pots, we have another major caveat. Municipal recycling programs only take certain plastics and they often consider soil reside to be a contaminant. That means when we try and do a good deed by putting old pots in our blue-bin, it may end up in the land-fill once the recycling plant removes the "contaminated" products. There has to be another way.
There is. We at Richmond Nursery have been doing our best to recycle for years. We try our best to re-use pots that we can, but that's only been a small portion of the pots brought back to us. This year marks a major improvement in recycling, though. By working with our plastic pot manufacturer in a cooperative way with the same goals in mind, we've got a solution. Used pots, where possible, get re-used in our growing process. Those that can't be reused get sorted and shipped back to be ground up and made into new plastic pots. As such, Richmond Nursery becomes Ottawa's first and only direct full-circle plastic pot recycling source. We're pretty proud of that.
So if you want to help up recycle, and we hope you do, there's a few things we need to ask of you. It's not too hard to do, but f we all work together we can do it.
- Check - look at the number on the pot. You will typically see a number someplace on your container surrounded by the recycling arrows. The number is usually 2, 5, or 6. These are all different kinds of plastics. Cell-packs from annuals are typically number 5 and don't always have the numbers on them. Styrofoam containers are not recyclable so we cannot accept those.
- Clean - give your containers a rinse to remove as many dirt particles as possible from the container.
- Sort - bring your pots back to Richmond Nursery and throw them in the appropriately numbered bin.
From there, we compress the plastics into bales and send them back to the manufacturer for recycling. The sorting process is very important so please check those numbers! Together we can help dispose of our unwanted plastic pots in an environmentally conscious way. We all want a better future and this is our way of ensuring we're going our part for all gardeners!
So far Richmond Nursery has helped to divert over 100,000lbs of plastic away from landfills. We're pretty proud of that feat.