Evergreen Garden Care have accelerated their drive to increase sustainability across all ranges, with a new emphasis on peat-free growing media, eco-friendly pest and weed controls – and, significantly, packaging.
The company’s new Refill Stations, currently being trialled at Notcutts Rivendell and British Garden Centre’s PlayHatch centres, are an industry first, allowing customers to refill items like granular fertilisers, grass seed and liquid plant foods from hoppers similar just like those that will be familiar to farm shop wholefood shoppers.
The idea, says Evergreen, tackles the issue of single-use plastic head on.
At Rivendell Garden Centre consumers can purchase Tomorite straight from the machine, using the original bottle or a £1 bottle for life. A 1-litre refill at SRP £3.99 saves £1 on the cost of the original bottle of Tomorite.
At PlayHatch the focus is on Miracle-Gro grass seed and granular plant food. The stand allows consumers to purchase as much grass seed (99p per 100g) or controlled release plant food (67p per 100g) as they need, in their own choice of container, paper bag or jar for life.
Jane Hartley, Head of Sustainability and Marketing Manager, said there was a growing desire with consumers to reduce the amount of plastic packaging that we use. Evergreen had increased the amount of recycled content in their packaging and introduced clear on-pack recycling information.
“Our challenge at Evergreen is to reduce the overall amount of packaging we produce, and this can only be achieved by looking at alternative and innovative ways of using our products. That is why we’re very excited to have launched reuse and refill schemes in store.”
A full roll-out of up to 80 refill stations is envisaged for 2023. “We shall be watching with interest and hope that consumers engage with the reuse concept,” Hartley added. “As with any trial we have had a few teething problems, yet the research we have generated has been invaluable to develop the concept further."
Hartley revealed that the re-fill strategy could eventually be extended to growing media, too. “It’s the future,” she said.
Another major initiative aims to solve one of the growing media industry’s knottiest problems – what to do with the mountain of used plastic sacks, a large proportion of which cannot be re-cycled. Evergreen’s believe their compost bag recycling project could be the answer. Working with Veolia, customers at 10 Dobbies centres were invited to bring in any brand of compost bag for recycling, with the intention to find an end use for the material collected. The initial batch was made into garden furniture and donated to the Greenfingers charity, but the hope is that the material will eventually become compost bags once again if material quality isues can be resolved.