Now is the time green-fingered gardeners around New Zealand are getting their vegetable and flower gardens ready for the summer season - but for many it is less than 'green' when they are forced to throw the plastic plant and seedling pots into landfill.
Now Mitre 10 has come up with a solution to save the plastic from landfill and return it to the plant supply chain.
Mitre 10 MEGA Te Awamutu Garden Centre manager Lachlan Chambers says it is a terrific initiative by the company - and one he welcomes as people of Te Awamutu and surrounds embrace spring gardening.
The company has partnered with Recycling Group and Pact Group to recycle plastic ID 5 containers, the most common used for plant and seedling pots, and the one most councils don't accept for recycling because of the issue around dirt contamination.
The plastic is cleaned, shredded, melted and sent to Mitre 10's gardening supply partner Zealandia Horticulture where they are remoulded into new seedling pots.
Lachlan says the Te Awamutu store has a long history of high sales volume of plants for the town's population, so he welcomes the opportunity to go greener and reduce waste.
He says the company sells over 11 million plant pots and punnets every year, and initially they aim to recycle about 20 per cent.
"This equates to saving 15 tonnes of landfill per month," he says.
Lachlan says the process is simple.
Customers need to give the containers a good rinse, then simply stack them up until their next visit to the store.
"Inside the garden centre you will find the Pot Recycle Crate.
"It doesn't have to be one of our pots," says Lachlan.
"The only criteria is that it has the plastic ID 5 on the container and has had a good rinse to get rid of as much dirt as possible.
"We cannot take a container that isn't identifiable or too dirty," he says.
Mitre 10 also looked at the option of cleaning and reusing pots, without the recycling programme, but it was deemed not viable because of uncertainty of supply for commercial supply and the biosecurity risks from plant disease.
Lachlan is hoping the people of Te Awamutu buy into the benefits of recycling and well and truly exceed the 20 per cent target.
He says it is not only greener, but saves money because households are paying for their landfill waste to be collected.
The programme is part of the company's efforts to reduce waste.
Lachlan says the Te Awamutu store has also stepped up its plastic wrap recycling, a big part of the supply chain packaging, and hopefully will be able to address the plastic waste from other gardening materials such as compost, potting mix, bark, etc, in the future.