GTN Sustainability Directory 2021 - Garden Trade News, UK

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Plastic: an alternative on the cards for internet plant sales…

According to researchers, an estimated 500 million plant pots and seed trays are sold in the UK every year to about 27 million gardeners – and nerators. about two thirds of these pots end up in landfill or incin Although organisations like the RHS and HTA have invested in projects to help confront and reduce this figure, the reality is that they are still a long way off making an effective dent in it. The myriad problems are only exacerbated by some of the challenges consumers have with re-use and confusion caused by UK local authority recycling policies that vary wildly from county to county. So, new ideas for containers and packaging without plastic are part of the solution and great strides have been made with sustainable materials such as coir, hemp and bamboo.

that generally means sustainability.

The stats With the catastrophic effects of this year’s pandemic running through work and personal lives, the emergence and progression of online trading has been one of the more positive results for many businesses. Ahead of both France and Germany, the UK has the highest number of e-shoppers as a percentage of population in Europe and in May this year, internet retail sales grew to 32.5% of total retail sales. Statistics from Retail Gazette show 75% of shoppers are modifying their buying behaviour due to ethical concerns, and

A way forward With groups such as the HTA and RHS committed to finding plastics-free solutions for the bricks and mortar retail market, companies like Fencor Packaging in East Anglia are concentrating on this growing internet or E-commerce retail sector. Working with established horticultural B2B and B2C.companies, Fencor have developed a number of sustainable and recyclable solutions, notably in the small live plant sector. Fencor’s design engineers came up with an alternative to the established system of plastic moulds used to hold plant plugs in their mailing boxes. It employs card that has been coated to enable it to withstand storage and transportation times. The coated corrugated card is creased and folded within a larger structure to make sure the plug doesn’t move in transport but the real test, apart from sustainability and recycling, is in the packing process. If staff were to find it difficult to assemble, it would result in time lost and wasted money, so the designs were stringently tested on live packing lines as well as through various transportation methods.

10 GTN’s Sustainability Directory 2021

One thing that all e-commerce businesses are learning about is the ‘wow’ factor that has become a YouTube phenomenon over the last few years. The ‘unboxing’ of products is seen to be the new digital ‘in-store experience’ and the majority of that experience is perceived through branding messages on the packaging, both internally and externally. Packaging that is made of card is far easier and more economical to print on than plastic moulds. Other industries, like the drinks sector, have embraced this opportunity to market to a more concerned public and innovations like six pack beer can holders, which historically have been plastic rings, are now starting to emerge with card alternatives. The marketing element is a major battlefield, more so now than ever before. To compete seriously, you need every marketing weapon available to you…and sustainable, recyclable, branded packaging is a great weapon to have in your arsenal. Neil Farrow, group marketing communications manager at Fencor Packaging says working together, locally and globally, bringing niche expertise to the table, is key to stamping out the use of plastics as far as it is possible. “The aim should be for better, more sustainable working processes, better sales and marketing and perhaps, more importantly, for a healthier future and a cleaner planet,” he told us.