The green industry is the driver of plastic plant pot production and use. This report describes the development of this industry, its phenomenal growth and successes, and the resulting significant negative ecological effects from the accumulation of used pots. Largely single-use, the majority of plastic horticultural pots are disposed of in landfills.
Although the materials are potentially recyclable, the product is difficult to recycle due to contamination, and the predominantly black material results in frequent inability of scanners to distinguish the resin content and enable sorting. On top of this, markets for this type of low-quality recycled material have plummeted, resulting in an ever-increasing cache of used material in the United States and Canada. At the same time, production of plastic products using virgin content has increased dramatically. Although numerous producers are engaged in developing alternative pots, matching the economy and durability of plastic pots has been challenging, and growers have been hesitant to adopt them.
This paper presents the consequences of increasing production and use of these pots without a solution to the problems of disposal.