In a significant carbon-saving step, Tesco will stop using peat in bedding plants and compost made in the UK.

April 6, 2023

In a significant carbon-saving step, Tesco will stop using peat in bedding plants and compost made in the UK.

In an effort to greatly reduce their carbon footprint, Tesco will become the first UK retailer to use peat-free bedding plants starting today, Monday, April 3.

The supermarket began selling only compost that is entirely peat-free earlier this year.

The most common growing aid for potting plants is still peat, but when it is collected, enormous amounts of carbon are released into the atmosphere, hastening climate change.

The innovative move was made in collaboration with Bridge Farm Horticulture, a top ornamental plant provider in the UK with headquarters in Spalding, Lincolnshire.

Additionally, it will aid in protecting the peatlands of the UK and Republic of Ireland, which are home to numerous rare plants, insects, and birds and offer a wealth of natural advantages.

The decision is important because Tesco, which sells about 40 million plants a year, is one of the UK’s largest bedding plant retailers.

Tesco has decreased the amount of peat it uses annually through this shift by almost 9,000 cubic metres. This has resulted in a 75%* decrease in the carbon footprint of these products, or more than 1,200 tonnes of CO2e (carbon dioxide equivalent emissions) annually.

Alex Edwards, the category buying manager for horticulture at Tesco, said:

Going peat free on our British-grown bedding plants is the right decision for our customers. We’ve listened to their feedback and worked hard to demonstrate that we can still deliver the same excellent quality while also being better for the environment.

We intend to deliver this across a greater range of plants and flowers in the future, and we expect that this approach can be adopted on a larger scale.

Tesco decided to eliminate peat from the compost it uses in its line of British-grown bedding plants in April 2022 in order to reduce its carbon footprint.

Peat was used in the compost formulation to a limit of 5% because there was no practical substitute available at the time for young plant propagation.

Since a substitute for this material has been discovered, all bedding plants produced by Bridge Farm Horticulture for Tesco will no longer use peat to produce the desired level of quality. Instead, they will use substitutes like wood fibre** and natural byproducts.

The Bridge Farm Horticulture’s line of products for Tesco has all been tested effectively in peat-free compost with no effect on quality or product life.

Louise Motala, managing director of Bridge Farm Horticulture, said:

“We agreed with Tesco that eliminating all peat from our compost formulas was a crucial step.

“In order to make this possible, we have begun growing most of our seedlings and cutting young plants ourselves.

In addition to assisting us in fulfilling our promise, this investment in our facility and capabilities has also given us greater flexibility and control over the entire supply chain.

Trudy Harrison, the minister for plant health, praised the decision and stated:

Our peatlands are a very precious natural treasure. They are essential for storing carbon, giving habitat for wildlife, and reducing flood risk.

“Tesco’s accomplishment shows the feasibility of efficient peat-free alternatives and represents yet another significant step in lowering our country’s use of peat.

“I am confident that this action will inspire other retailers to follow their progressive example as we move closer to the outright ban on peat sales to amateur gardeners, which takes effect in 2024,” the author says.