(ST. LOUIS): The Missouri Botanical Garden operates the most extensive residential garden recycling program in the nation. With the addition of 128,000 pounds of horticultural waste in 2010, the Garden’s Plastic Pot Recycling program has saved over 978,000 pounds of plastic garden pots, cell packs and trays from landfills to date.
“Providing an alternative to pitching pots by offering a program to recycle them has sparked a sense of loyalty to doing the right thing,” said program founder and organizer Dr. Steven Cline, director of the Garden’s William T. Kemper Center for Home Gardening. “Despite the economy, gardeners are still planting their landscapes and plastic pot containers continue to accumulate. Fortunately, with the assistance of funding through the St. Louis – Jefferson Solid Waste Management District and the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, the Garden was able to continue the six month collection program this year, and the response continues to be great.”
The yearly public collection of plastic garden pots, polystyrene cell packs and trays was started in 1998. The Missouri Botanical Garden serves as the central collection site, open daily from late April through September. Ten retail garden centers throughout the metro St. Louis area participate in the environmental effort as satellite collection sites. In 2010, these included Greenscape Gardens, Crabapple Cove Nursery, Summerwinds at Timber Creek, Garden Heights Nursery, Rolling Ridge Garden Center, Bowood Farms, Hartke Nursery, Thies Farm and Greenhouse, Sunset Plantland Nursery and University Gardens. Also contributing to the collection are businesses associated with the green industry – landscaping contractors, public works departments, grounds management professionals and wholesale growers.
Plastic is granulated on-site into small chips that are easily transported to manufacturers for recycling into products such as lumber, pallets and garden pots. This year, the program made lumber locally, marketed to gardeners to construct raised beds. Other plastics collected were transported to East Jordan Plastics in Michigan, makers of gardening trays and pots. Proceeds from the sale of plastic timbers will be used to offset some of the costs of future collections. Grants from the St. Louis-Jefferson Solid Waste Management District, Missouri Department of Natural Resources, Missouri Environmental Improvement and Energy Resource Authority and California-based Monrovia Growers also support the program.
Next year’s program will strive to break the mark of one million pounds of horticultural plastic saved from landfills since its inception in 1998.
For more information on the Garden’s Plastic Pot Recycling program, visit the website www.plasticpotrecycling.org or call the Kemper Center for Home Gardening at (314) 577-9441.