Encouraging reuse of plant pots and trays

Plant pots and trays are perhaps the most visible plastic waste within horticulture. Since 2003 we have strongly encouraged their recycling and reuse across our Gardens, Shows and retail centres.

We have also undertaken trials in our Gardens and funded research into alternatives to plastics but practical usability and production issues remain key stumbling blocks to their introduction and something that requires more research. However, we are encouraged by recent developments in alternative products and will continue to look into their use across the Society.

Reducing our plastic packaging

We have moved to buying products in bulk to reduce wrapping and reuse this packaging wherever we can.

In 2018 we experimented with alternatives to the lightweight recyclable plastic packaging our magazines are distributed in to find a suitable replacement. We are delighted that from December 2018 The Orchid Review will be mailed to subscribers in a paper envelope with The Plantsman following in spring 2019. We have also been trialling a new paper wrapper for The Garden magazine. With more than 450,000 copies distributed, a significant investment from the RHS was required to support the experimental technology that underpins the wrapping and issuing process. The March 2019 edition of The Garden will therefore be the first posted to members in paper.

The RHS is committed to staff and visitors using biodegradable materials where possible and we continue to trial hemp, bamboo and recycled bottles as alternatives to the plastic lanyards required for access to our gardens and events throughout the year.

Providing paper bags at our gift shops

We use paper bags in the gift shops at our Gardens and - as these can split when wet - we use recycled plastic bags in our plant centres. We also ask customers and visitors to bring their own bags for purchases made at our Shows and Gardens.

Banning plastic straws at our Shows and the RHS Garden Wisley restaurant

In 2018 we made the decision to ban plastic straws at all of our main Shows – Cardiff, Chelsea, Chatsworth, Hampton Court and Tatton Park. Likewise, at Wisley, our flagship garden, we have swapped plastic straws for paper and rolled out the use of biodegradable plates, cups and cutlery made from corn starch – a green alternative to polystyrene. We are now looking to do the same at the remainder of our Gardens.

We will also continue working with partners from the gardening industry - as part of the Ornamental Horticulture Roundtable Group – to help drive industry-wide change.

Published: 23 February 2018 
Updated: 3 December 2018

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