Has the plastic plant pot had its day?

Thanks to the wonderful Buxton community, the Buxton Flowerpot Trail this year has been a success by all measurable outcomes – more sets of pots handed out than ever before, more dots on the map than ever before and more maps sales than ever before. We continue to be amazed by the creativity and imagination of those who get involved, and the effort taken. See pictures here.

In our promotion of the project in the Buxton Advertiser, calling for local households and businesses to get involved, we offered to take old pots to be used for the project. Well, the offers flew in from all around the High Peak and, at our market stall in May, oft uttered was the phrase “I could give you some plant pots.

This made us realise just how many plant pots there must be out there, stacked up in sheds, greenhouses and corners of gardens. Hoarded with no hope of reuse. A plague of plastic. Black ones which can’t be recycled. Companies reluctant to collect and clean them due to cost. So the stacks just grow and grow, year on year. They even sell empty ones! Those who have donated pots to the trail are always so happy to have found a use for them. But it would be best if they were not there to be used at all. There are plenty of alternatives so surely the plastic plant pot has had its day.

We could find no active campaigns to stop their production so we wrote to our MP, Robert Largan, to ask whether plastic plant pots were included as part of the Government’s plans to stop the production of single-use plastics, which most clearly are. We received a reply about what is being done in the fight against single-use plastic products and the proposed Plastic Packaging Tax; but, in response to our actual enquiry, further information was required.

We were pleased to receive a second letter within the month in which was enclosed a response from the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs, Rebecca Pow. It states a “want to increase the quantity and quality of recyclable material collected, including plastics” and a commitment to “work towards all plastic packaging placed on the market being recyclable, reusable or compostable by 2025” but, unless there is an outright ban, as part of a wider strategy, it is “ultimately for businesses to decide what materials they use to supply products to customers”.

So, for now at least, it looks like the plastic plant pot is here to stay, although hopefully all recyclable by 2025. To all those with stacks in their gardens, we urge you to recycle those that you can, return them to your garden centre, if they’ll take them, or failing those two options, use them to make flowerpot people for next year’s Buxton Flowerpot Trail! And help us bring smiles to all those walking past.

Huge thanks to those who participated in this year’s trail and those who went to hunt down the creations. We hope the trail will return next year. Feedback is always helpful for our funding applications, so if you have any comments about the trail, please email them to Anyone wishing to get involved and support the project, please get in touch.

Our thanks again to Derbyshire County Council for the Action Grant which supported this year’s trail (awarded for 2020 but deferred to this year due to the pandemic). And to the following organisations for supporting this year’s trail in a variety of ways: Pavilion Gardens, Buxton Markets, Buxton Town Team, Transition Buxton, Poole’s Cavern, Buxton Crescent Heritage Trust, Buxton Festival Fringe, Buxton Advertiser, Pure Peak, Vision Buxton, BBC Radio Derby and, of course, The Green Man Gallery.

We’re off to deconstruct our flowerpot people ready to reuse the pots next year!

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