Commercial horticultural nursery Johnsons of Whixley is trialing a revolutionary new type of plant pot that is detectable by recycling centres, to help lead the fight against plastic waste in the industry.

Johnsons’ new cream-coloured plant pots are detectable by waste separation systems, which means they can be put back into the recycling stream.

They are distinct from standard pots, which feature a carbon pigment that compromises recognition, and results in millions of pots ending up in landfill every year.

Johnsons’ new product is currently undergoing vigorous testing to identify any impact on growing performance. If no issues are identified, the new pots will be pushed out to the business’s retail customers.

Johnsons of Whixley group managing director, Graham Richardson, said: “For many years, we have been putting any black pots used internally back into plastic waste recycle stream, and have strived to be environmentally friendly in everything we do. The new pots we use every day are over 98% made from recycled plastic.

“We currently supply our landscape contractor customers with plants in standard black plastic pots and recognise that it will take a long time for that sector to adopt a new pot. But we are optimistic about the testing process and don’t currently anticipate any issues in terms of ‘growability’.

“Once we have overcome that hurdle, we will work with our customers to ensure they understand the environmental advantages of the new pots.”

Throughout its history, Johnsons has pioneered environmentally-friendly processes in the horticultural industry.

Richardson adds: “Our waste pots are collated, palleted, and collected by the company that supplies the business with new pots, and subsequently recycles them into a wide range of low-grade objects.

“Polythene sheeting has been recycled for many years by specialist firms, who take all kinds of plastic from land-based firms. Our own is collected by a local recycler and forwarded on for processing.

“Almost all fertilizers and small quantities of compost are supplied in polythene bags, and these are also recycled.

“As a business, we are subject to the Packaging Waste Regulations, which impose a levy on the amount of packaging produced in order to compensate for the central funding cost of waste management and recycling.

“We are members of the Pennine Pack organisation, which is responsible for monitoring returns related to packaging waste and the purchase of PRNs (Packaging Returns Notes) to ensure that waste has been recycled under strict controls, and that the appropriate levies have been applied.

“And for the last five years, the company has supported the Ethical Compliance Packaging Scheme, whereby recycling is undertaken within the UK.”

Johnsons of Whixley is a family business that can trace its origins back almost 100 years, and one of the biggest commercial suppliers in Europe.