CONTAINERS DESIGNED TO BE PLANTABLE OR COMPOSTABLE
The terms organic, sustainable, alternative and green have become part of our vernacular in a way we could not have imagined a decade ago. Consequently, there has been a proliferation of new products in all sectors fashioned to these ideals. Being the true “green industry” by nature, it is only fitting these concepts be incorporated — or, more accurately, reincorporated — into greenhouse production and marketing.
DESIGNED TO BREAK DOWN
An article titled “Comparing strength and biodegradability of biocontainers” by Matt Taylor, Michael Evans, and Jeff Kuehny described Biocontainers as “containers that are not petroleum-based and degrade rapidly when planted into the field or when placed in a composting operation. Biocontainers fall into two categories. Plantable containers are designed to be left intact with the plant root ball and transplanted into the field, landscape bed or final container. These containers are designed to allow the roots to grow through their walls and to decompose after being planted. A second category consists of compostable biocontainers. These are designed so the plants are removed before final planting and the container is composted.”
It is not uncommon to produce or market herbs and vegetables in biocontainers. Recent studies have focused on trialing biocontainers for use in bedding plant production, typically with a four- to six-week turnover. But growing and selling a long-term crop such as poinsettia or cyclamen in a container that has the tendency to “return to nature” has proven more challenging.
At Western, we produce an array of molded fiber greenhouse and nursery containers with different and partially overlapping life expectancies to meet our customers’ diverse growing needs. We do this by adjusting the mix of recycled paper, proprietary additives and/or addition of a partial or full wax impregnation of the container. The longevity of our containers on the formulation and a series of environmental factors that affect the container’s life in both positive and negative ways.
Recently a number of Western’s nursery and greenhouse containers have been included in independent research centers and University studies related to the growing, strength and decomposition characteristics of a group of containers commonly referred to as “eco-containers,” or “biocontainers.” Examples include our rose pot formulation and our plantable greenhouse containers.
Western is working toward expanding our portfolio of biocontainers and we are looking for partners that will help us move in that direction. If we don’t carry a biocontainer that meets your large volume project, contact us. We may be able to adjust the formulation of an existing container or design a new one specifically for your application.