Horticulture industry bans corporations digging up precious habitats to make compost

The Government has, at long last, banned the home use of compost made from precious peatland habitats purely for the profit of a small number of large companies selling it.

It means peat will no longer be used in compost sold in bags to consumers, instead alternative composts known as ‘peat free’ will be used, largely from composted plant waste, as you would make at home – long called black gold by gardeners. Peat free composts already make up a large proportion of what is sold thanks to the efforts of many in the industry who have been making a difference over the years.

This is a long overdue, easy and obvious move to make horticulture, which should be the shining light of sustainability but is far from it, a greener industry.

Peatland makes up a tiny proportion of land around the world, taking thousands of years to form and yet are the biggest store of climate change causing carbon, the Government says they are “our largest natural carbon stores, locking away over 580 million tonnes” of carbon. They are also home to unique wildlife that can only live in these now damaged habitats.

The ban takes effect from 2024, which feels too far away but accounts for peat already dug up and in bags. What’s left is all there is next year (2023) we will see the already growing sales of peat free jump enormously.

In a final consultation with the horticulture industry in 2021, over 5,000 horticulture businesses were asked what they think and an incredible 95% of businesses were in favour of banning the digging up of peat to make composts.

Peat will however still be used in some composts growers use to grow plants, so plants you buy growing in pots may be in peat based composts. This is something the industry and Government is looking to ban but is complicated by imports from mainland Europe where peat is still used. I expect this will be banned and in the meantime, you can vote with your wallet by asking what plants you buy are growing in and refusing to buy any grown in peat. Hundreds of independent nurseries now grow plants in only peat free.

This is absolutely fantastic news, I grow everything in peat free compost and have in many trials over the years – and with first hand experience – found it better than peat compost. Well done to everyone who supported and made this happen.

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