The plan for plastic pots

The plan for plastic pots with Tim Sansom

The plan for plastic pots

I have a confession. Like many keengardeners, behind my garden shed thereis an ever-growing pile of used plasticplant pots that I have been accumulating(and ignoring ) for years.

This build up is partly because I like to keepa few pots on hand for propagation andmoving plants, but mostly because I knowthat putting them in the bin takes themstraight to landfill. But I also know that thematerial recycling facilities that sort theco-mingled recycling bins cannot identifyplastic pots as recyclable, so if I put them inthe recycling bin, they also finish in landfill.

One way to avoid my pile up would be to usebiodegradable pots. The technology has beenaround for years, but the nursery industryhas faced a number of logistical challengesthat have prevented their commercial use.The pots are often porous and degrade,meaning that plant quality control isproblematic, and transport is near impossible.Additionally, materials like coir have to beimported to support this linear system.

Whilst plastics such as polypropylene aresourced originally using oil and fossil fuels,there is now enough material in the systemto sustain a circular system of recoveryand reuse.

Polypropylene, like glass, is highly recyclable with near 100% recoverability. It is identified by the number ‘5’ in the recycling triangle symbol, sometimes labelled as ‘PP5’.

The problem is getting the material back to the recyclers and pot makers from all of us gardeners. You can take your pots to the tip, but wouldn’t it be good if there was a network of garden centres where you could drop off your used pots when you are shopping for your seeds and plants? Well, now there is with a national collection scheme rolling out across the country.

Diggers is proud to be involved in this scheme and our Diggers garden shops in Victoria are now collection locations, so you can bring in all your old plastic pots and labels (look for the PP5 triangle) to us and we’ll return them to the pot makers via our production nursery. That’s if there’s any room left after I drop mine off!

For members who can’t get to a Diggers garden shop, there are more and more sites across the country everyday as new partner businesses and collection sites join in.

For more information on the program and to locate drop-off locations near you, visit