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Why Horticulture Has a Plastic Conundrum

Published on 2 December 2021 at 13:41

Source: KvK


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Until more durable, alternative products that can hold up to the rigors of production become affordable and mainstream, growers will continue to rely on plastic products to do their jobs.
Photo by Janeen Wright

The movement to reduce or eliminate plastic use in horticulture is gaining momentum, and growers could one day feel the impact of the fallout. While these products make producing plants easier and more economical, the reality is expended plastics have become an environmental challenge.

What does this mean for the controlled-environment industry, which relies heavily on plastic-based products to grow and sell plants? For most growers, it most likely means a renewed focus on the three Rs ─ reduce, reuse, and recycle ─ rather than all-out elimination.

From an economic sense, removing plastic pots, trays, tags, and labels from controlled-environment production doesn’t make sense for growers right now. Until more durable, alternative products that can hold up to the rigors of production become affordable and mainstream, growers will continue to rely on plastic products to do their jobs.

Start With Reducing Waste, Not Eradication
Derek Moeller, President of McConkey Company, says he believes that rather than jettisoning plastics completely, the focus will be on three fronts, all of which should result in better economics for growers and reduced carbon emissions:

  • Using less plastic (thinner products)
  • Making use of reusable products to avoid disposables
  • Improving the way plastic products that have reached the end of their service life are recycled

Suppliers are aware of growers’ needs and offer a range of products that help reduce plastic’s carbon footprint on the environment. They’re also continuously exploring new options and techniques that offer the promise of a more sustainable solution.


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