At the beginning of 2018, Modiform introduced its award-winning EcoExpert product range made from recycled corrugated cardboard waste. It created pots and transport trays that could easily be recycled by existing kerbside and retailer collection systems, could be composted or would degrade if they found their way into landfill or the natural environment.
Since its introduction, many growers and retailers have moved from using unrecyclable plastic to EcoExpert as their preferred plant transport and packaging material.
EcoExpert can work perfectly well in most circumstances, but for bedding packs Modiform realised that a different approach was needed. Bedding packs are handled automatically with machinery and are often grown on the greenhouse floor in a damp and humid environment.
This is why, in the same year, -Modiform also introduced its alternative to polystyrene bedding packs, working with the same material that B&Q adopted in 2014. Modiform has invested heavily in more than 30 new moulds to produce bedding packs in Transparent Green PET.
Polystyrene packs and trays, no matter what colour they are, do not get recycled through UK household waste collection systems. Modiform has used material that is 100% post-consumer recycled drinks -bottles that can be widely recycled again throughout the UK by local authorities.
Modiform retail manager Shaun Herdsman says: "Ideally we would have liked to use fully transparent PET, but thorough testing resulted in poor plant growth because of light transparency into the roots. But we soon found that green-tinted transparent PET from 7UP and Sprite bottles filtered certain colours of the light spectrum, allowing normal root growth. The same principle is used to keep beer fresh in green and brown glass bottles."
The market has embraced this change, with many growers, retailers and garden centre chains now insisting on using this material to give their packaging a better chance of being recycled. Modiform UK sales manager Peter Wessel says: "We are now supplying Transparent Green PET packs to growers for use in supermarkets including Tesco, Morrisons, Aldi, Lidl and Asda, major DIY chains B&Q and Homebase as well as numerous large garden centre groups like Klondyke, Dobbies, Notcutts and Blue Diamond." Herdsman adds: "Most of the retailers had done their own research on recyclability and had come to the same conclusions as us — polystyrene bedding packs had to go."
Modiform is planning further investment in moulds to change from polystyrene to PET and will now start to stock standard product lines in this colour/material, including the award-winning Universal Bedding Pack system containing four-, six-, nine- and 12-cell packs. This allows availability for the rest of the market to move away from non-recyclable polystyrene packs.