August 15, 2008
Pots are the most visible waste products left after installing plants. Landscape maintenance and construction contractors take pots to the landfill, and retailers often accept used pots back from their customers, only to throw them out with the garbage. No one in the green industry is happy with the way used plastic pots are scrapped, but there has been no acceptable alternative in the past.

In response to member dissatisfaction with the piles of plastic accumulating in landfills, and a growing backlash among consumers regarding the disposal of plastic pots, Landscape Ontario began investigating pot recycling programs for the industry.
To test the feasibility of such a program, Lorraine Ivanoff, LO’s trade show sales coordinator, ran a small pilot collection project from June 16 to 20, and was overwhelmed with the response from industry. Her comments follow:
  • Using the gaylords (large cardboard containers) was a huge mistake, with space and durability issues. Cleanliness of plastics (especially trays) was not monitored and the pilot project controlled me instead of me controlling the project.
  • The project was two or three weeks too late to capture greenhouse poly that is generated by growers/greenhouses. Considering this, it was still extremely successful in that we managed to divert over 5,000 pounds of plastic.
  • There was a wonderful public reaction. The most common comment was, ‘It’s about time.’
  • We created a new bridge with Flowers Canada, with lots of interaction between commodity groups, irrigation suppliers and contractors, growers and garden centres. We learned that a program does not have to be costly to garden centres and nurseries, but instead could be cost-effective or neutral.

At press time, a stakeholders’ meeting has been planned for August 6 at the LO home office. Pot manufacturers, plastics recyclers, growers and retailers have all been invited to participate. At the end of the day, participants hope to create the framework of a comprehensive recycling program for companies of all sizes and locations. Watch for details on this exciting new initiative in coming issues of Horticulture Review. Comments and ideas can be forwarded to Lorraine Ivanoff at

A fraction of the used horticultural plastic collected during LO’s pilot project.
Lorraine Ivanoff (second from left), discusses the pilot collection project with LO members.