You can now recycle old plastic compost bags at a garden centre near you, thanks to a recycling initiative from waste management company Veolia, garden product manufacturer Miracle-Gro and garden centre chain Dobbies.


You can now take back empty and clean plastic compost bags to any of the 69 large Dobbies garden centres around the country. They will be collected ready for processing into new products, including garden furniture, plastic films and new bags.

100 million plastic bags are used for compost, soil and chipped bark each year. The packaging is difficult for people to recycle as very few local authorities collect low-density polyethylene (LPDE) bags as part of kerbside collections or at recycling centres. The sorting and reprocessing infrastructure cannot cope with this very diverse material, so most of the bags end up in landfill.

Recycling compost bags
© Stewart Attwood

The scheme follows successful trials across 10 Dobbies stores. Marcus Eyles, Horticultural Director at Dobbies, explains: “Anyone can bring in any compost packaging, no matter what brand or where it was purchased, and place it in the dedicated recycling bins."

The intiative aims to save 22,000 tonnes of CO2 a year, or 70 per cent of CO2 emissions associated with the production of new plastic. It aims to recycle an estimated 40 million bags, diverting them from landfill.

Jane Hartley, Sustainability Marketing Manager from Miracle-Gro said: "Working with Dobbies and Veolia I wanted to introduce an industry wide collection scheme where all manufacturers' bags could be recycled. Consumer response has been very positive and we have found that consumers will bring several bags to the bins, with bins filling up fast. We are monitoring contamination but so far it's good quality material. We have had interest from a number of retailers who want to set up similar schemes."

The scheme has also been extended to other retailers, such as the Gardens Group, which includes three garden centres in Dorset – Poundbury Gardens in Dorchester, Castle Gardens in Sherborne and Brimsmore Gardens in Yeovil.

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Read more about being sustainable in the garden here.


Veronica Peerless is a trained horticulturalist and garden designer.