M&S get proactive

Retailer says 100% peat-free target is unrealistic proposal

High-street retail chain Marks & Spencer has revealed that it does not consider it realistic to go 100 per cent peat free. M&S says it is on target to reduce peat-based production of flowers and plants to around 70 to 75 per cent by April 2004 and around 50 per cent during 2005. Sustainable development manager Mike Barry said M&S had identified the development of sustainable raw materials as a priority. “The Government has set a target for the peat-free production of plants of 2010, but we don’t want to be forced by government. We’re being proactive. “If I gave a date of when we will go 100 per cent peat free I would be leading people down the garden path. “I’d say reaching 100 per cent is many years away. Sourcing 100 per cent is very difficult at this time.” M&S sources poinsettia spring pot plants from WJ Findon & Sons of Stratford on Avon. Technical manager Andrew Fuller said Findons has trialled wood-fibre-based peat substitutes for several years and is now 25 per cent peat free. Findons plans to go 40 per cent peat free next year. However, Fuller said that 100 per cent peat free will not happen as “peat is an essential part of any mix”. A recent Midland Bedding Plant group conference concluded that a government target of a 40 per cent reduction in peat production by 2005 is achievable, but the recommended 90 per cent reduction by 2010 is not. (HW, 4 September). Multiples such as B&Q and Homebase accept that peat use is unsustainable. Friends of the Earth campaigners have attacked stores that sell peat-grown pot plants as jeopardising “precious wildlife sites in Ireland and the Baltics”.

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