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UK: Reduction in peat usage, says growing media report

According to the findings of a research project, peat use across both amateur and professional markets fell between 2011 and 2012. In addition the proportion of volume supplied that is accounted for by peat also fell across both markets.

The research project, ‘Tracking peat usage in growing media production,’ was an outcome of Project 10 of the Sustainable Growing Media Task Force and was jointly funded by Defra, Horticultural Development Company (HDC), HTA and the HTA Specialist Group, the Growing Media Association (GMA). The aim of the project is to provide objective data on the volumes of peat and other materials used in growing media to inform multiple stakeholders involved in the move to sustainable growing media in UK horticulture. The project will continue to provide data to the industry and other stakeholders on changes in the use of bulky components of growing media including peat over the next two years.

The research shows that between 2011 and 2012 the volume of growing media sold by manufacturers in the UK (including export sales) fell by 12%. Volumes for professional use fell by 7% and those for amateur use fell by 14%. This reflects adverse weather conditions in 2012 which saw the exceptionally rainy summer of 2012 affect garden retail sales across the board.

Across all sectors of the growing media market the proportion of volume accounted for by peat and composted green waste fell, while the proportion of ingredients such as bark, coir and wood based ingredients increased. For amateur use, peat accounted for 58% of volume sold into retailers in 2011 compared with 52% in 2012. For professional use, peat accounted for 72% of volume sold compared with 69% in 2012.

The Growing Media Initiative (GMI) remains the industry scheme to encourage the supply chain to move towards more sustainable growing media. Commenting on the findings chair of the GMI, Gary Scroby, comments, “This research takes an objective look at the progress being made towards more sustainable growing media. The GMI remains at the core of this and continues to progress on further work streams looking at sustainability criteria of peat alternatives (Project 4) and the development of a performance standard (Project 7).”

The report can be downloaded from HTA


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