Reduce, Reuse, Recycle Garden Plastic

By Jane Zoutman, Master Gardener

Spring has sprung and Manitoba gardener’s thoughts have turned to planting. We should also be thinking of what products we are using and how we dispose of them. Gardeners use a lot of plastic, from plant pots to the Velcro used to tie up plants. The plastic is often not recyclable so it ends up in the landfill and eventually in our water as pieces of plastic or micro plastics.

We know we should Reduce, Reuse and Recycle the plastics, in that order. It’s not easy and requires some additional effort. Some ideas that might help are:

Find alternative to plastics. Some ideas are:
– Use cotton or sisal twine, which is compostable, instead of gardening Velcro.
– Do not use peat/soil pellets that have a plastic mesh cover. That plastic cover will not breakdown in your life-time.
– Use paper, coir, or fibre pots to start your plants.
– Use the plastic clam shell packaging to start seeds.
– Make wooden trays to put the seedlings in outside. Do not use treated wood.
Return some of the plastics to the garden centres:
– Prairie Originals will take back some of their plastics, particularly the plastic containers for their plugs, their 4 inch plastic pots and plant tags.
– Jensen’s will take the solid plastic #2 pots. Clean them first. They may not reuse them but they are available for anyone who needs pots.

Reasonable quality pots, plant trays, seed starter trays with domes, even gardening Velcro are all reusable. Clean them and use them again and again.

Winnipeg and most municipalities will recycle plastics #1 to #5 and #7 (look on the bottom of the pot in the recycling triangle). If in doubt assume it is not recyclable. In Winnipeg black plastic cannot go in the blue bin. The optical sorters at the recycling facility cannot cope with black plastic. Black plastic (only #1 to #5 and #7) should be taken to a 4R Depot and put in the “large plastic” recycling area. Be sure to clean what you are recycling.

4R Depots are:
Brady Road Resource Management Facility
1777 Brady Road

Pacific Avenue 4R Depot
1120 Pacific Avenue

Panet Road 4R Depot
429 Panet Road

Sources of Information:

Do not Use! The cover is plastic that will not decompose in your life-time.

Type #2 pots: The orange one can go in the blue bin. The black one cannot.

Alternatives to plastic – fibre, coir terra cotta and paper pots. Wooden plant tray. Clamshell packaging used to start catgrass.