Until recently, there was little to do with empty nursery pots, except reuse them as best you could or put them in the trash. And that’s a lot of trash because at least 2 million pounds of the plastic pots are made for the nursery industry each year.
Some growers use No. 2 plastic, which is easily recyclable through curbside pickup or drop-of sites. But most are made of No. 5 and No. 6 plastic, which is harder for consumers to recycle.
Several garden centers and nurseries will take back pots to recycle for their own planting, or send to Brehob Nursery Inc., one of the largest wholesale growers in the state. Brehob has been recycling all plastic pots from its customers for the past couple of years, primarily because it is the right thing to do, as Erick Brehob once told me.
It’s a big commitment from the company because employees have to sort the plastic and make sure mud and other debris is shaken or washed out before they can recycle the pots, he said. Consumers cannot take the pots to Brehob directly, so check with garden centers or landscapers in your area to see if they will recycle them.
From 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 3, consumers can take their clean pots to the Madeline Elder Greenhouse at the Indianapolis Museum of Art, 4000 N. Michigan Road.
The greenhouse saves hundreds of dollars by reusing the standard sizes: one-quart, five-pint, one-gallon, 6-inch round or 4 ½-inch square (No. 5) pots.
Polystyrene cell packs for annuals or most of the flimsy flats or trays that contain them are not useful, said Mary Ellen Gadski, a member of the IMA Horticultural Society who began this annual initiative a few years ago. What the greenhouse cannot use is sent to area educational institutions for use in their horticulture programs.