The Ethical Gardener
The plastic plant pot is the gardener's equivalent to the shopper’s plastic carrier bag: we know we use too many of them - some 500 million each year in the UK - but they’re really cheap and they’re handy. The only trouble is that like carrier bags, they have become a huge waste problem: they pile up, in our gardens, in our bins, and the majority of them are either sent to landfill or incinerated. And the manufacture of virgin plastic uses significant amounts of fossil fuels (4% of the worlds annual oil production is used to produce plastics and a further 3% to manufacture them).
An obvious alternative is to recycle them, not just by giving your surplus to neighbours or a local community project, but by being able to take them back to be recycled commercially, ideally to be made into more pots. Until recently, the argument against recycling on a large scale has been that it is too complex and costly to sort the mixed plastics. But now the majority of plant pots are made from polypropylene, with trays made from polystyrene, and advanced technology means that mechanical sorting is feasible.