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How To Recycle Plastic Plant Pots

Cacti in plastic plant pots

Image Credit: MacDonald Almeida

Gardeners are some of the keenest recyclers on the planet. Compost is the one of the oldest types of recycling known to man, and anyone who has tried to grow a few things will undoubtedly have repurposed items to use with their plants.

Whether you use an old saucer to put under plant pot or make cloches out of empty fizzy drinks bottles you are a recycler.

How To Recycle Plastic Plant Pots

So when you find yourself with a surplus of plastic plant pots or just broken ones that you need to dispose of, what can you do with them. How can you recycle plastic plant pots?

We've also got 7 alternatives to plastic plant pots.

Recycling Plastic Plant Pots

You may be able to recycle any non-black pots with your household recycling collection. Check by using this handy search tool on Recycle Now which will tell you where thye can be recycled in your area.

Black plastic plant pots cannot be recycled at present and must be put into your household waste.

Pots placed in your houshold recycling needs to be cleaned in the same way as food packaging. If the pots are dirty and covered in soil they will contaminate the recycling process.

If you have pots that could be reused, there are a few ways that you can pass them on to someone else. If you belong to a gardening club or have an allotment you may be able to give them to a fellow gardener. You may also be able to offer them via a buy nothing group.

You can also recycle plastic plant pots at 68 branches of Dobbies Garden Centre.

If you do need to buy new plastic plant pots, choose terracotta-coloured ones, as black ones are not recyclable

7 Alternatives To Plastic Plant Pots

So what are the more environmentally friendly alternatives to plastic plant pots?

If you are buying a new plant for your garden or four your home it is pretty difficult to avoid plastic pots. If you buy a plant in a plastic pot, ask if you can return the pot to the garden centre. Smaller garden centres and nurseries may be keener to accept them for reuse than the bigger chains which may not have systems in place to deal with them.

If you are growing your own plants and seedlings there are lots of alternatives available.

  1. Plant Fibre Seed Pots
  2. Biodegradable plant fibre seed pots and seed trays have been around for a while. Intended for potting seedling, are made to be planted straight into the ground, avoiding disturbing the plant's roots into the bargain.

    They can be bought at most garden centres as well as from Amazon and other online retailers.

  3. Toilet Roll Tubes
  4. You can recycle your old toilet roll tubes by using them for planting seedlings as well. Like the plant fibre pots you can put them directly into the ground where they will biodegrade too.

  5. Make Pots From Newspaper
  6. You can also create your own pots from old newpaper.

    This short video from the RHS explains how to make pots from old newspaper using an old jam jar as a former (more recycling!).

    You can also buy gadgets which help you to make paper pots, but basically, they perfom largely the same function as the jam jar in this video.

  7. Yoghurt Pots
  8. You can reuse clean, empty yoghurt pots or other small food containers for planting as well. If you not a fan of yoghurt, ask family and friends to save them for you.

    Plants growing in Starbucks cups.

    Image Credit: Guido Coppa

    Here is another idea on the same theme. Disposable coffee cups are lined with a thin film of plastic which also makes them suitable for planting into. However they cannot be planted into the ground, as that plastic layer means that they are not biodegradeable.

  9. Recycled Plastic Plant Pots
  10. Paper and fibre pots work well in small sizes, but if you need a larger pot or want to plant something for a longer time, you will need something more substantial. Let's be honest, plastic is a very good material for this. If you need to use a plastic pot, choose a pot made from recycled plastic.

    These can be bought at many gardening centres or many places online including Amazon, Circular & Co and Elho.

  11. Egg Boxes
  12. You can also use egg boxes to plant your seedlings, and they are also biodegradable in the same way that paper or fibre pots do.

  13. Terracota Pots
  14. You can also buy old fashioned terracotta pots. As long as you don't drop them or let them get frost-damaged, they could last a lifetime. If they do get broken you can use them for drainage in pots as well.

    They can be bought at all good garden centres.

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