In April Tesco became the first UK retailer to go peat-free on its British-grown bedding plants, in order to significantly lower their carbon footprint.
From earlier this year the supermarket started selling only compost that is also completely peat-free.
Peat is still the most popular aid used by the horticulture industry to grow potting plants but when harvested, vast quantities of carbon are released into the atmosphere, accelerating climate change.
The ground-breaking step has been made in partnership with one of the UK’s leading ornamental plant suppliers, Bridge Farm Horticulture, based in Spalding, Lincolnshire.
It will also help preserve the UK’s and Republic of Ireland’s peatlands, which provide a wealth of environmental benefits as well as being home to many rare plants, insects and birds.
The move is significant as Tesco is one of the UK’s largest sellers of bedding plants, with about 40 million plants sold each year.
Through this change, Tesco has reduced its peat use by nearly 9,000 cubic metres a year. This has reduced the carbon footprint of these products by more than 1,200 tonnes of CO2e (carbon dioxide equivalent emissions) a year – a reduction of 75 per cent*.
Tesco Horticulture Category Buying Manager, Alex Edwards said:
“Going peat free on our British-grown bedding plants is right for our customers – we’ve listened to their feedback and have worked hard to prove we can deliver the same great quality, but now being better for our planet.
“Looking ahead, we hope this approach can be adopted on a wider-scale – it’s our aim to deliver this across a broader range of plants and flowers.”
In April 2022, Tesco made the climate-focused decision to remove peat from the compost it uses in its British grown bedding plant range.
At the time a viable alternative for peat wasn’t available for young plant propagation, which meant that a maximum of five per cent peat remained in the compost formulation.
This alternative has now been found and so instead of peat, all bedding plants, grown by the Bridge Farm Horticulture, on behalf of Tesco will use alternatives such as wood fibre** and natural by-products to deliver the quality expected.
Tesco’s range of products supplied by the Bridge Farm Horticulture have all been successfully trialled in peat-free compost, with no impact on quality or product life.
Bridge Farm Horticulture Managing Director Louise Motala said:
“We felt as strongly as Tesco that it was an important step to remove all peat from our compost formulations.
“To enable us to do so we have started propagating the majority of our seed and cutting young plants ourselves.
“This investment in our facility and capabilities has not only helped us to deliver on this commitment, it has also given us greater flexibility and control of the whole supply chain.”
Plant Health Minister, Trudy Harrison welcomed the move and said:
“Our peatlands are an incredibly valuable natural resource. They play a crucial role in locking up carbon, providing habitats for wildlife and helping with flood mitigation.
“Tesco’s achievement demonstrates the viability of effective peat-free alternatives and marks an another important stride in reducing our nation’s peat use.
“I am confident this move will encourage other retailers to follow their forward thinking example, as we move towards the complete ban for selling peat to amateur gardeners which comes into force in 2024.”