Westland’s sustainable progress highlights significant action taken to date

by | Mar 31, 2021 | Promotions | 0 comments

Keith Nicholson, marketing director at Westland Horticulture, looks at sustainability and the challenges facing the sector

Westland Horticulture is significantly ahead of our plan in delivering ambitious sustainability targets across our potting soils and composts for 2021. However, we would warn that the toughest days lie ahead for the sector unless some reality is brought to the debate around peat. If we ignore the challenges and continue down the current track, we could see significant parts of the garden sector retract by as much as 20% and gardening participation return to levels of the early 2000s. 

Westland is now using more than 75% of non-peat materials to produce our range of potting soils. This is significantly ahead of the industry standard and a result of over 18 years continuous investment in research and development into new substrates, and over £38m investment in infrastructure, sites, and materials.

This positive progress hides a deeper challenge around the pace of change versus the clear lack of suitable alternative materials for use in the horticultural sector. Not only is access to high quality, local, alternative materials at a critical level, but the development time for any new materials will take between eight and 10 years – from source, to research, to full manufacture. It is clear that we need to collaborate with government to overcome this significant shortfall in quality materials and deliver a positive road map which avoids setting unachievable targets, or worse again, simply shifts the environmental challenges elsewhere. Any short-term thinking will undermine the positive work done by many in the sector over recent years.

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google+
  • Pinterest
  • Print Friendly
  • reddit
  • LinkedIn

“We need to recognise the importance of horticulture to our economy and the essential societal benefits that gardening has on wellbeing, health and biodiversity.”

Westland is one of the creators of the Responsible Sourcing Scheme, an initiative that has brought together industry, NGOs and retail, along with the Horticultural Trades Association (HTA), to deliver a sustainable future in growing substrates. This world leading programme assesses all substrates against several environmental benchmarks, ensuring the sector is making the right decisions for today and for the future. The scheme will challenge all materials and will question substrates that have issues in relation to contamination, water use, ethical and labour conditions, excessive air miles, deforestation or habitat loss. To avoid any damaging short-term decisions, it is crucial that the growing media sector has time to fully assess current and new materials to allow for a positive and sustainable transition.

The move from a reliance on a single material (peat) to multiple types of soilless mediums in order to germinate the 60 million seed packets sold annually and support all plants and edible production, is technically and operationally a massive undertaking for the industry. Some industry commentators assume that we, as an industry, can simply click our fingers and make another substrate available for gardeners. Clearly, this is not the case, and we must avoid decisions that will see the promotion of poor quality replacement materials that will have a long lasting impact on the gardening sector.

We need to recognise the importance of horticulture to our economy and the essential societal benefits that gardening has on wellbeing, health and biodiversity. We must harness the increased interest in growing, propagating and planting, and use this momentum to deliver a realistic roadmap to support a steady transition to world leading sustainable substrates that meet the demands of our industry and helps our nation’s gardens to thrive.

more latest news ➡

Mike Burks awarded GCA Honorary member

GCA inducts Mike Burks as honorary member

Mike Burks, managing director of The Gardens Group, which owns Castle Gardens in Sherborne, Brimsmore Gardens in Yeovil and Poundbury Gardens near Dorchester, has been awarded Honorary Membership of the Garden Centre Association (GCA). Presented by GCA...

Greenfingers

The GCA Conference digs deep for the Greenfingers Charity

The recent Garden Centre Association (GCA) conference was not only an informative and educational event, but it also featured a lot of fundraising for the garden retail sector’s adopted charities, including Greenfingers. In fact, delegates dug so deep into their...

Andy Hannan joins Dobbies as Commercial Director

Dobbies appoints Andy Hannan as Commercial Director

Dobbies, the UK’s leading garden centre retailer, has appointed Andy Hannan as Commercial Director. With extensive experience from across the retail sector, Andy will lead the delivery of Dobbies’ commercial strategy as it enters its new financial year. Andy has...

retail sales slow

Retail sales slow as high cost of living enters third year

UK Total retail sales increased by 1.2% year on year in January, against a growth of 4.2% in January 2023. This was above the 3-month average growth of 1.9% and below the 12-month average growth of 3.4%. Food sales increased 6.3% year on year over the three months...

Bells Horticultural acquires Peter Beales Roses

Bells Horticultural acquires Peter Beales Roses 

Bells Horticultural, a distinguished family-run enterprise with a rich heritage in horticulture, proudly announces the acquisition of the celebrated Peter Beales Roses business. This strategic move solidifies Bells Horticultural's commitment to preserving and...

New GRIDSERVE hub at Dobbies Edinburgh

Dobbies Edinburgh opens GRIDSERVE Electric Retail Hub

The latest GRIDSERVE Electric Retail Hub has opened at Dobbies Edinburgh, as part of a long term partnership between the charging company and garden centre to increase the number of High Power charging locations across the UK. Dobbies Edinburgh, located in...

Read GCR's latest edition!
Read GCR's latest Made in Britain Supplement!

Subscribe ToThe Wednesday Word

Subscribe To
The Wednesday Word

 

Get all the latest news, events & more straight to your inbox every Wednesday.

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This