Is Recycling The Only Answer?

Is Recycling The Only Answer?

Whose responsibility is it to ensure horticultural plastics are recycled?

It’s a question plastics manufacturers, growers and retailers have batted around for years, but it’s a question that still doesn’t have a definitive answer. East Jordan Plastics is clearly the recycling leader among manufacturers, venturing into the business in 2008 with a recycling facility in South Haven, Mich. Other manufacturers, including The Blackmore Company, Dillen Products and Landmark Plastic, are following East Jordan’s lead in plastics recovery at greenhouse operations.

A number of growers have been progressive in plastics recovery, as well. North Carolina-based Metrolina Greenhouses, for example, recovers a remarkable number of plastic pots and trays from Walmart and Lowe’s stores. Most trays can be reused and are sorted by type, cleaned and checked back into inventory on shrink-wrapped pallets. The pots and trays that aren’t reused are taken to a nearby plastics recycler in Asheboro, N.C.

Independent garden center retailers, including Boulevard Flower Gardens and Strange’s Garden Center in Virginia, have also been recycling leaders. The two recently participated in a pilot project in the Richmond area in which 7,500-plus pounds of plastic containers and flats were collected.

Still, consumers expect our industry to do more with horticultural plastics to “green” the planet, be it through recycling or something else that’s publicly deemed “environmentally friendly.”

“Whether a plastic is made from agricultural oil or a petrochemical process, you still have to do something with it,” says Paul O’Neill, a manager of grower products and agricultural engineer at Beaver Plastics. “So what do you do with it at the end of the day?”

Other Solutions

If recycling isn’t the answer, perhaps manufacturers can find solutions on the front end of plastics production, specifically in new materials or additives. A.M.A. Plastics, for example, makes Al’s Flower Pouch, which is not a recyclable product. Al’s Flower Pouches are typically purchased from garden centers in small quantities, making consumers prone to pitch them into the trash along with other random items.

But the trash is exactly where A.M.A. Plastics wants its product to land, because an oxo-degradable film additive helps the product degrade when it reaches certain environmental conditions–such as those of a landfill.

“For us, the way you solve the problem is through oxo-degradability,” says Rick Bradt, managing director at A.M.A. Plastics. “We know it’s going to a landfill, so let’s make sure it at least breaks down in a landfill. The oxo film essentially becomes food for microbes. The microbes eat it and it becomes water and carbon dioxide.”

Another solution is to offer horticultural plastics that are designed to be reused by consumers year after year rather than tossed into a recycle bin after one year’s use. One product with such a design is the Weekender, a hanging basket with a removable liner. The hanging basket is made of polypropylene and is guaranteed to last consumers 10 years.

“Customers like the Weekender pot,” says Karl Eckert, the owner of Eckert’s Greenhouse and designer of the Weekender. “The Weekender is even priced differently because it is a lifelong basket and it’s a green product, even though it cannot be recycled.”

Plastics manufacturers are even looking at non-plastics as options to achieve the environmental friendliness they seek in products. Jiffy Products America’s CarbonLite pots, trays and flats are primarily starch based and reduce a manufacturer’s dependence on oil. And like Al’s Flower Pouch, CarbonLite products largely biodegrade in landfills.

“CarbonLite is clean, green and affordable,” says Rick Friedrich, Jiffy’s general manager. “It’s reducing carbon emissions through low energy production of the products. The materials we use to create the CarbonLite are carbon-absorbing products. We’re reducing the amount of carbon going into the atmosphere and, in theory, reducing global warming.”

Jiffy’s CarbonLite initiative is very much based on the front end of production. As a global company, Jiffy is concerned most with reducing global warming, reducing waste and improving consumer health. Recycling is one widely accepted way to achieve these objectives, but Friedrich questions whether plastics recycling is really the right thing to do.

“Recycling isn’t necessarily very friendly to the environment,” he says. “First, containers are manufactured and they’re heavily petroleum based. There’s a lot of dependence on foreign oil there. They go to the grower, then the retailer and finally the consumer. The consumer transports them back to a recycling center, and that takes gasoline. Recycling trucks have to collect them to take them back to the recycling center, and then energy is used to break down the process.”

Considering the carbon footprint Friedrich outlines, Jiffy is steering toward developing products that are degradable, biodegradable or compostable.

“I’ve found our industry puzzling,” he says. “We create so much beauty but we use so much plastic. Now, there are opportunities to make consumers feel good about buying their petunias and pansies in containers that are friendly to the environment.”

Changing Cultures

Still, the majority of manufacturers, growers and retailers see recycling as a good thing–or at least an upgrade from discarding plastics as trash. Growers are already recycling items like plastics and cardboard, and plastics manufacturers are largely doing the same.

Greenhouse Grower visited Landmark Plastic in Akron, Ohio, in advance of this report and found multiple examples of recycling, from regrind pellets used in Landmark’s thermoforming production lines to the dust that’s collected through filters and eventually sold as an ingredient for other products. We saw countless bulk skids, as well, that eliminate the need for cardboard.

“Twenty-five years ago everything was boxed and floor loaded onto trucks,” says Jim Frederick, Landmark’s national account manager. “Now, we are selling more items in bulk skids and bagged or taped bundles.”

Company cultures toward environmentally friendly practices have changed remarkably in Frederick’s time, as well. Cultures have changed, he says, because consumers demand it. But, he argues, companies and other entities must do more. Consumers must be educated that recycling is good, and additional avenues to recycle No. 5 and 6 plastics, in particular, must be provided.

“Recycling is getting better at the township level,” Frederick says. “There are Waste Management trucks now that have sections for cardboard and plastic.”

An Interesting Takeaway

In the big picture, horticultural plastics are just a sliver of all plastics in the waste stream. But even that sliver projects us poorly to consumers whose minds have shifted to more environmentally friendly options.

So perhaps the best place to start the conversation about horticultural plastics is recycling, and where the most horticultural plastics are consumed: the box stores

“If anyone can make recycling work in this country, it’s Walmart, Lowe’s and Home Depot,” says Samantha Ponting, Landmark’s marketing manager. “It’s one of our main talking points when we get together with the big box stores. Because of their large geographical coverage and ability to help educate consumers, they’re the ones who can really start to make a difference.”

Leave a Reply

More From Crop Inputs...
crider-rd2-internal_Rough-Brothers_featured

July 1, 2015

Rough Brothers Is Acquired By Gibraltar Industries

RBI Solar Inc., Rough Brothers Manufacturing Inc. and affiliates have been acquired by Gibraltar Industries, a manufacturer and distributor of products for residential and industrial markets, for $130 million. Capitalizing on its 80 years of design-build experience and leadership as the largest greenhouse manufacturer in North America, Ohio-based RBI has established itself during the past five years as North America’s fastest-growing provider of photovoltaic (PV) solar racking solutions. The transaction will enable Gibraltar to leverage its expertise in structural metals manufacturing and materials sourcing to meet global demand for solar racking solutions. The company also announced that it anticipates its second-quarter 2015 financial results will be in line with its previous expectations. “Acquiring RBI is an important step in the transformation of Gibraltar into a company with a higher rate of growth and best-in-class financial metrics,” says Gibraltar CEO Frank Heard. “This acquisition directly aligns with key end markets and product platforms […]

Read More

June 30, 2015

Opportunities Abound For Women In Horticulture, Says Dosatron International’s Lela Kelly

My love for horticulture goes back to my grandparents who were farmers in upstate New York. My family’s involvement in agriculture left a lasting impression that has spanned decades, and still drives my passion for our industry today. I started my career in horticulture when I owned a greenhouse, nursery and garden center in Sayville, Long Island, N.Y. We specialized in ground cover production, later branching out to producing perennials and bedding plants.     I then went onto wholesale hard goods distribution. In the 1980s, I was the first woman salesperson on Long Island. What an eye opener that was! New York is a very special place, different from anywhere else in the country. You cannot imagine how difficult it was walking into greenhouses and nurseries as a woman, in a man’s world. Luckily, I grew up in New York City in an Italian family, who taught me great […]

Read More
Medal of Excellence Award

June 30, 2015

Get To Know The 9 Variety Finalists For Editor’s Choice And Industry’s Choice Awards

Greenhouse Grower‘s Evening Of Excellence reception is rapidly approaching. Here, you can learn more about the varieties that are finalists for the Medal Of Excellence Editor’s Choice and Industry’s Choice Breeding Awards. Thank you to the 2015 sponsors of Greenhouse Grower‘s Medal Of Excellence Awards, Landmark Plastic, Nufarm and Stockosorb. Editor’s Choice Asclepias ‘Monarch Promise’ (Hort Couture) Basil ‘Balsamic Blooms’ (EuroAmerican Propagators) Celosia ‘Dragon’s Breath’ (Sakata Seed) Dianthus Jolt Series (PanAmerican Seed) Salvia Grandstand Series (Green Fuse Botanicals) Scabiosa ‘Kudos Pink’ (Hishtil Nurseries) Industry’s Choice Basil ‘Balsamic Blooms’ (EuroAmerican Propagators) Bidens BeeDance Series (Suntory Flowers) Celosia ‘Dragon’s Breath’ (Sakata Seed) Dianthus Jolt Series (PanAmerican Seed) Lobelia ‘Starship Deep Rose’ (Kieft Seed) Vinca Valiant Series (PanAmerican Seed)     Join us Monday, July 13 in Ballroom 2 at the Columbus Convention Center to find out which varieties will receive the coveted awards. The reception begins at 5:15 p.m. and the ceremony […]

Read More
Latest Stories
Feature image The Aphid Guard Aphid Banker Plant, coming soon to the market, supports beneficial insect populations.

June 21, 2015

The Latest In Crop Protection

Protecting your plants from the latest threats is no easy task, but new product lines promise to safely and effectively eliminate a wide range of pests and diseases, without harming your employees or the environment.

Read More
Bee On Flower

June 18, 2015

Pest Management And Marketing Strategies For Bee-Friend…

Michigan State University Extension shares pest management practices to produce plants that are safe for pollinators and marketing strategies for clearing up confusion about bee-friendly plants.

Read More
NSOrganicPlantFood3-1-1_featured

June 13, 2015

UMASS Fertilizer Trials Recommend Nature’s Source Organ…

In a recent online fact-sheet at its Extension website, the UMass Amherst Center for Agriculture, Food and the Environment lists Nature’s Source Organic Plant Food 3-1-1 as “the best liquid organic fertilizer,” according to Dr. Douglas Cox, Stockbridge School of Agriculture. It is called-out by the Extension after a number of years of studying the use of organic fertilizers for growing commercial greenhouse crops. The trials evaluated traditional water soluble and granular slow-release chemical fertilizers. Dr. Cox recommends Nature’s Source Organic Plant Food 3-1-1 as a liquid fertilizer that is readily available, cost effective, OMRI-listed and with good label directions for greenhouses. He also mentions the ease-of-use in how it mixes well with water and can pass fertilizer injectors. “Nature’s Source is currently the best liquid organic fertilizer,” Cox wrote in his article “Organic Fertilizers – Thoughts on Using Liquid Organic Fertilizers for Greenhouse Plants,” “I have seen no foliar chlorosis yet with this fertilizer. Nature’s source is widely available and a great […]

Read More

June 10, 2015

BASF’s Sultan Miticide Receives California Regist…

BASF Sultan miticide recently received registration in California, giving ornamental growers a new rapid, targeted mode of action for mite control. Sultan miticide, with active ingredient cyflumetofen, offers ornamental growers targeted knockdown of all life stages of tetranychid mites, with long residual control. It has practically no toxicity to beneficial insects, including predatory mites and pollinators. Sultan miticide offers a new mode of action to combat cross-resistance with other commercial miticides, and is compatible with integrated pest management programs (IPM). “The long-awaited California registration of Sultan miticide is exciting news. Greenhouse, nursery and landscape professionals in the state now have a new class of chemistry that gives them fast control over all life stages of plant-damaging mite populations,” says Joe Lara, senior product manager for BASF. “Sultan miticide now provides California growers with a much needed new first choice for miticide resistance management programs that won’t disrupt populations of beneficial […]

Read More
Bee on a Sedum

May 27, 2015

Industry Associations State Their Support Of National P…

AmericanHort, Society of American Florists, American Floral Endowment and Horticultural Research Institute joined together to embrace key aspects of the federal government’s recently announced National Strategy for the Protection of Honey Bees and Other Pollinators. The long-awaited strategy has three major goals: reducing honey bee colony losses, increasing Monarch butterfly populations, and restoring or enhancing millions of acres of land as pollinator habitat through public and private action. According to the statement, the associations are studying the details, but they agree that the overall approach appears balanced and mostly sensible. The rest of the statement reads as follows: “The national strategy’s overarching goals dovetail well with the focus of the ongoing Horticulture Industry Bee and Pollinator Stewardship Program. Under that initiative, we have directly funded several priority research projects, and collaborated on additional research funded by others, to provide critical scientifically sound guidance for professional horticulturists. We are developing a grower […]

Read More
Bee On Flower

May 20, 2015

White House Task Force Releases Pollinator Health Strat…

An interagency Pollinator Health Task Force commissioned by President Obama released its “Strategy to Promote the Health of Honey Bees and Other Pollinators” on May 19. The strategy, released in accordance with the Presidential Memorandum issued last June, is accompanied by a Pollinator Research Action Plan, which outlines needs and priority actions to better understand pollinator losses and improve pollinator health. The recommended actions will be supported by a coordination of existing federal research efforts and accompanied by a request to Congress for additional resources to respond to losses in pollinator populations. Pages 47 through 52 specifically address pesticides and pollinators. The report calls out plant production, native plants, mosquito control and all urban uses in its Pollinator Action Plan. RISE (Responsible Industry for a Sound Environment) says it supports the goals of improving pollinator health and habitat contained in the White House Pollinator Task Force’s release of its National […]

Read More
r3bv2 disease

May 20, 2015

SAF And AmericanHort Ask Government To Take Ralstonia O…

The Society of American Florists (SAF) and AmericanHort want Ralstonia solanacearum, Race 3, Biovar 2 (R3Bv2) taken off a list of animal and plant diseases that the federal government has determined could be misused as terrorist weapons. SAF and AmericanHort submitted formal comments together on the horticulture industry’s science-backed position on the matter. According to Lin Schmale, SAF’s senior director of government relations, extensive research has proven R3Bv2 does not belong on the government’s list of animal and plant diseases that can be misused as terrorist weapons. Every two years, USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) requests a public review of the Select Agent list, asking for comments on whether plant or animal diseases should be taken off the current list or added to it. In the floral industry, R3Bv2 can have a devastating impact on geranium (pelargonium) crops, Schmale says, and both the potato and tomato industries also could be adversely affected by introduction […]

Read More
Two-spotted spider mites, adults and eggs

May 18, 2015

Beware Of Spider Mites In Bougainvillea And Mandevilla …

Greenhouse growers need to scout for spider mites on bougainvillea and mandevilla and use appropriate treatments that minimize pesticide resistance.

Read More
CrownBees_Blue-Orchard-Bee-Female_Artz

May 14, 2015

Pollinator Health 2015: What’s Next For Horticult…

The news on pollinators and neonicotinoids continues to fluctuate between good and bad. Research and outreach efforts backed by the Bee and Pollinator Stewardship Initiative help move the industry in a positive direction.

Read More
empress-intrinsic-brand-fungicide

May 13, 2015

BASF’s Empress Intrinsic Fungicide Is Approved Fo…

BASF’s Empress Intrinsic brand fungicide received supplemental labeling, providing California growers with an effective drench fungicide for disease control and plant health. The supplemental labeling is for use on herbaceous and woody plants in greenhouse, nursery container and field production in California. Empress Intrinsic fungicide provides protection against the four major root and crown disease pathogens: fusarium, phytophthora, pythium and rhizoctonia. Research shows Intrinsic fungicides control the broadest range of ornamental diseases while improving plant resilience to quality and reducing stresses that commonly occur during commercial production, handling and transportation. “More and more growers across the country are discovering the benefits of Empress Intrinisic brand fungicide treatments at propagation for rooted plugs, cuttings and seedlings, and in drench applications on transplants during the production cycle to protect against the major root diseases,“ says Joe Lara, senior product manager for BASF ornamentals. “A BASF fungicide program utilizing Pageant Intrinsic and Empress Intrinsic […]

Read More
Green Mum Basket

April 21, 2015

Growers Face Dilemma In Managing Plant Growth

Whether you’re applying plant growth regulators, manually pinching plants or using automated trimming, the most important thing is to find the right balance.

Read More

April 20, 2015

Three Michigan State University On-Demand Webinars Offe…

The first rule of effective insect and disease control for vegetables is to take action to prevent problems before they occur. But in order to do that, you need to have an effective pest and disease management strategy in place that incorporates best practices to ensure a successful outcome. Michigan State University offers three pest and disease management on-demand webinars that will get you started and keep you on the right track.

Read More

April 15, 2015

BASF’s Pageant Intrinsic Fungicide Registration A…

The state of California has approved the supplemental label registration of Pageant Intrinsic brand fungicide for disease control in the commercial production of greenhouse-grown tomatoes and tomato transplants for the home consumer market.

Read More
Egg card used for insect control in Parkway Garden’s retail area.

April 13, 2015

Biocontrols Use Requires Commitment

For some companies, a switch to biocontrols is an easy decision to make. Parkway Gardens of Ontario, Canada, began using biocontrols nine years ago after Erik Jacobsen, the company’s owner, wanted to expose Parkway, its customers and the environment to fewer pesticide products. “Many pesticides were increasingly ineffective, and in Canada, new product registration moves with glacial slowness,” Jacobsen says. “The labor cost of applying pesticides is much greater than using biocontrols.” In addition, it was also an opportunity to market the company’s eco-friendliness to a younger demographic, he says. In a Q & A with Greenhouse Grower, Jacobsen explains what biocontrols and methods have proved effective for Parkway Gardens Greenhouse Grower: In what types of greenhouse structures are you using biocontrols? Erik Jacobsen: Our greenhouses are all poly covered. About half the range is a Westbrook 14-foot at peak gutter-connected block, and the remaining half a mix of quonset-style […]

Read More

April 11, 2015

Lowe’s Announces Commitment To Phase Out Neonicotinoids…

Home improvement retailer Lowe’s companies announced April 9 that it has committed to eliminate neonicotinoid pesticides from its stores in a gradual phase-out over the next 48 months. In response, horticulture industry associations issued a statement that Lowe’s position is surprising, considering the most recent and positive reports on the state of honeybee health and recent peer reviewed research, and that this is an issue for which sound science must take priority.

Read More

April 9, 2015

Survey Snapshot Shows Biocontrols Mainstreaming

Have you incorporated biocontrols into your greenhouse operation? If so, you’ve got plenty of company. An anonymous online survey by Greenhouse Grower magazine in December 2014 of more than 156 ornamental plant and flower growers across the U.S. found 81 percent used biocontrols in 2014.

Read More

March 31, 2015

Manufacturers Are Taking Biologicals To The Next Level

Through acquisitions and new products, many crop protection companies are making firm commitments to the future of the biocontrols industry.

Read More
OxiPhos_BioSafe2

March 23, 2015

BioSafe Makes Label Changes To OxiPhos And ZeroTol 2.0

There have been some recent label changes made to the BioSafe Systems product OxiPhos, a systemic bactericide/fungicide that reduces downy mildew spores when tank mixed with ZeroTol 2.0.

Read More