B&Q style 'choice editing' may work for peat

RHS principal scientist for horticulture Paul Alexander says a B&Q-style choice editing scheme could make the sustainable growing materials project he is chairing work for consumers.

Image: B&Q
Image: B&Q

The Growing Media Task Force includes several working parties, among them one on quality control and labelling, and has submitted a 'roadmap' to Defra to respond to by the end of the year on how to phase out peat.

Alexander said in his 12 years at the RHS this is the first time the industry has committed to a proposed plan to move forward for the benefit of all. His project team, made up of growers, manufacturers and the RHS, is making "quite good progress" weighing up products against environmental, social and economic criteria, but "until the Government reports back on the roadmap by the end of the year the industry is loathe to move forward until the Gov-ernment says yes".

He added: "We're conscious this is a crude tool to crack a horrendously complicated situation."

The system uses flow charts to hold each material up against and score on to see if they are more or less sustainable than other materials.

Alexander said: "This is the first time you can take a materials source into account - for instance, peat from a UK lowland raised bog that has a SSSI against Somerset Levels peat. You might end up showing one is more sustainable than the other, so there is a flexibility there.

"We're trying to reward the companies that go down the road of trying to find a more sustainable source of their stock than others - for instance, recycled wood against harvested planta- tion forestry."

Alexander added: "We would like an umbrella body such as GMA to take on these criteria and develop them into a more audited process, so manufacturers can hold up materials and compare x, y and z for better sustainability. This moves away from the notion about what we're putting in the bag to trying to make the whole industry more robust, using more sustainable materials."

He said the project would make materials consumers use more sustainable and suggested a logo or using the process B&Q used with FSC when 'choice editing'.

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