Missouri Botanical Garden

Plastic Pot Recycling


Turn your plastic pots into recycled landscape timbers!

Sorting plastics Each year, over 80 million tons of plastic is generated in the U.S. Plastic makes up about 10% of the waste stream and is climbing. With about 70 million U.S. households engaged in some kind of gardening activity, the amount of plastics from that alone is considerable.

In the horticultural industry alone, about 350 million pounds of plastic is produced each year. Plastic pots and garden container material deposited in landfills take up considerable space and do not readily decompose and would remain intact for decades!

The Missouri Botanical Garden's Plastic Pot Recycling Program is the largest program of its kind, recycling both plastic pots and polystyrene cell packs and trays. Since 1998, this groundbreaking program has saved over 300 tons of plastic from reaching the landfill. The program has become hugely popular with gardeners in the St. Louis metropolitan area with many participants anxiously awaiting the Gardenís annual collection period.

Goal Reached in 2008 - 150,000 lbs

The 2008 flower pot collection and recycling program broke its old record with over 150,000 pounds of pots and trays coming in to the Garden's Monsanto Center over the summer. We thank all those individuals who participated by bringing in their garden plastic over the six month period from May through October as well as the garden centers, growers and green industry who came with truckloads on Wednesday mornings throughout the summer.

Recycling trailer We expanded the satellite collection by asking seven garden centers to host recycling trailers. Garden Heights Nursery, Summer Winds Garden Center, University Gardens, Rolling Ridge Nursery, Crabapple Cove Nursery, Bowood Farms Garden Center and Greenscape Garden Center participated in collecting garden containers and transported them to the Missouri Botanical Garden's recycling site over the summer. A special thanks goes to these garden center participants for their efforts to make this the best season yet!

What are we doing with it?

Conveyor belt plastic chips

In 2006, the Garden purchased a granulator and conveyor to process plastic into chips, doubling the former capacity. In 2007 and 2008, materials were separated by the type of plastic so that it could be more easily marketed and recycled into other products. Proceeds from the annual collection are used to support part time staff to assist with the processing of plastic and continue the collection from year to year. In addition, we have contracted with recycling companies to make various products.

Purchase recycled timbers

Plastic lumber retaining wallGarden pots and trays have been recycled into landscape timbers, useful for building retaining walls and landscape borders. Each timber measures 7-inches X 9-inches by 8.5 feet long and weighs 280 pounds. Timbers are sold for $40 each to those with appropriate load-bearing transportation. Homeowners are encouraged to work with landscape contractors for transportation, planning and construction with these timbers due to the weight and equipment required for moving. Timbers can be cut with a circular saw and drilled similar to wood.

For more information on the plastic pot recycling program or to purchase plastic timbers, contact Dr. Steven Cline at steven.cline@mobot.org or call him at (314) 577-9561.

What's New for 2009?

The use of recycling trailers proved to be the best way to collect flower pots from the local region and now we look forward to 2009, expanding the fleet of trailers to more garden centers around the St. Louis area. In addition, we will offer Garden visitors the opportunity to recycle their pots and trays any day of the week starting in May through October 2009. Recycling trailers will be positioned in the west parking lot of the Monsanto Center, 4500 Shaw Blvd. As before, we ask that everyone separate their garden plastic by the recycling symbol typically printed on the bottom of the container. Pots marked #2 and #5 are sorted from cell packs and trays marked #6 and should be placed in their respective bin on each trailer. Instructions on plastic separation will be provided on signs at the site. Please remove metal hangers, rings and plant tags prior to making a deposit. We do not take other types of plastic, paper bags, plastic bags, cardboard or clay pots and ask that all of the soil be removed.

Stay tuned to this website for an announcement come spring 2009 identifying which garden centers will host recycling trailers. We encourage taking the shortest route to recycle your pots. See you in 2009.

Sponsored by:

-St. Louis-Jefferson Solid Waste Management District
-Missouri Botanical Garden
-Missouri Department of Natural Resources
-Environmental Improvement and Energy Resource Authority
-Monrovia Growers, Inc.