Pots With Promise
Although they haven’t reached the scale and sizes needed, there are promising options out there.
To find biobased pots, consult the USDA BioPreferred list. The program publishes an online catalog of products that have achieved certification and display the BioPreferred label.
The BioPreferred Program was established in 2002 and is administered by the United States Department of Agriculture. Its mission is to increase the federal government’s purchase and use of biobased products. The agency defines biobased as “products are derived from plants and other renewable agricultural, marine, and forestry materials.”
Manufacturers have the opportunity to have their products certified as to the bio-based content, and, once certified, add a label to that effect on the product. The label enables consumers to compare products’ biobased strength and to be assured that the avowed content has been confirmed. The label will show not only the certified biobased content of the product, but also the biobased content of its packaging. The Program has determined minimum biobased content for various categories of products. For plant pots, the minimum is 43%.
To explore the certified pots, from their website, select “Biobased Products,” then “Grounds Maintenance,” and finally, “Gardening Supplies and Accessories.” There you will find the list of certified pots, their manufacturers, and all the relevant information, including the percentage of biobased content.
Another way to identify alternative pots is to check whether a pot meets any ASTM standards—international voluntary and consensus products standards developed by the American Society for Testing and Materials. Some of the relevant standards include ASTM D6400, ASTM D6868, ASTM D6691, and ASTM D5988. ASTM standards met should be listed on the product labeling.
What About Pots Made With Recycled Plastic?
Some companies occasionally use recycled plastic in the pots they produce. Such pots are hard to find, because the recycled content, if any, may not be reported, and when there is recycled content, it can vary. Currently there is no ASTM standard for pots manufactured with recycled petroleum-based plastic, so there is no way to verify the accuracy of any claims about recycled content.