B&Q have replaced all polystyrene packaging across its range of bedding plants with an innovative new concept. Harnessing Teabag Technology™, easyGrow™ is 100% recyclable and between 95% to 99% peat-free, removing peat from commercial plant production. The new packaging concept will be incorporated into 20 varieties of bedding plants.
As the largest garden retailer in the UK, over 80 million bedding plants are sold at B&Q stores across the UK between March and June. Historically, these plants would be packaged in non-recyclable polystyrene trays, resulting in 22,500 cubic metres of polystyrene, enough to fill over 87,200 wheelie bins, ending up as non-degradable waste in UK landfills. Placed end to end, the trays would stretch from Land’s End to John O’Groats.
The move by B&Q is supported by the RSPB, long time campaigners for peat-free gardening. With easyGrow™ with Teabag Technology™, each bedding plant is rooted in between 95 to 99% peat-free compost. Peat-free gardening takes the pressure away from exploiting lowland peat bogs. These special landscapes are home to birds like merlins and golden plovers, as well as dragonflies, raft spiders and carnivorous wild plants such as sundews and butterworts. It takes a thousand years for raised bogs to build up a metre depth of peat. Peat extraction is also a significant source of carbon emissions, releasing around 1.25million tonnes of carbon dioxide each year.
Olly Watts, RSPB peat expert comments: “Now gardeners can buy plants and give nature a home in their gardens without destroying nature’s home in the countryside. Lowland peatbogs are really special places for plants and wildlife and there is no reason why we should be digging it up to grow flowers in our gardens.
“Most gardeners love nature and the wildlife that visits our garden flowerbeds, borders and veg patches. Many want to do more for nature by going peat free and B&Q is leading the way in helping them do just that.”
Alan Knight, Chairman of Sustainable Growing Media Task Force added; “Today marks a tipping point towards a future where the sector no longer relies on peat”.
easyGrow™ with Teabag Technology™, consists of a self-contained biodegradable ‘teabag’ made from corn starch, a renewable resource that is fully compostable. Each bag is filled with coir, a natural fibre extracted from coconut husks. Ben Smith, Bedding Plants Buyer at B&Q, explains; “The coir we use is produced in Sri Lanka to high ethical standards which have been independently audited. We’ve created 750 new jobs there as part of the production, and have been playing our part in helping to support the area with funding for a local school.”
As part of B&Q’s commitment to working with British suppliers, easyGrow™ with Teabag Technology™ has been developed in partnership with British growers, including Coletta & Tyson, a family business based in Hull.
Ben Smith comments; “There’s nothing more British than a teabag, so it seems fitting that our latest innovation is inspired by our favourite beverage. With easyGrow™ with Teabag Technology™, we’re able to offer our customers bedding plants which don’t create added waste, and make it easier to get planting just in time for the Spring gardening season.”
As well as being kinder to the environment, each ‘teabag’ protects the plant roots and makes bedding plants easy to handle with less chance of damage to fragile roots. easyGrow™ with Teabag Technology™ makes planting easier for garden lovers and novices alike: simply remove the plant from the tray and pop the plant straight into the soil.
Joclyn Silezin, Horticultural Category Manager at B&Q, added: “We’re committed to helping consumers make greener choices for their garden, without having to consider the cost, and easyGrow™ with Teabag Technology™ is just the latest development.”
Matt Sexton, CSR Director, commented; “As the largest garden retailer in the country, selling around 140 million bedding plants a year, we are keen to ensure that our horticulture products have the lowest level of environmental impact possible. easyGrow™ with Teabag Technology™ has allowed us to move from a non-recyclable packaging form to a recyclable one, to make a substantial move away from the use of peat and to reduce our transport footprint associated with moving our plants around the country.
In line with Defra’s voluntary targets, we are aiming to have removed peat from our horticultural products by 2030, I hope substantially before then, and this product will see us take a major step towards that goal by proving that virtually peat free horticulture is becoming a mass market reality.”