Faster action needed on peat phase-out

Faster action needed on peat phase-out

Only 19% of almost 1,300 products on sale were clearly labelled as peat-free

Despite the Government’s commitment to phase out peat for garden use by 2020, a new survey confirms the lack of real choice for consumers looking for peat-free composts at garden centres and other outlets.

The survey, by Friends of the Earth, Plantlife, the RSPB and the Wildlife Trusts, found that:

  • Only 19% of almost 1,300 products on sale were clearly labelled as peat-free
  • A third of respondents did not find peat-free compost clearly available
  • Half of respondents who checked prices found peat-free compost to be more expensive than peat-based options
  • There was often little awareness or concern about the impact of peat among retail staff
  • Most respondents reported a lack of product choice, price incentive or clear labelling to encourage consumers to buy peat-free

Peat still accounts for more than half of the total material used in bagged composts, and the amount of peat in the retail market increased by 50,000m3 from 2012 to 2015. This is despite the high profile of the issue since the 1990s, the availability of quality peat-free alternatives, and repeated Government commitments to phase out peat use and protect our remaining peat bogs.

Steve Trotter, England Director for the Wildlife Trusts, says, “Gardeners can make a real difference by not buying peat-based products but the garden trade is failing in its duty to phase out peat and give its customers real choice to go peat-free. A few responsible traders are leading the way but the pace of change is far too slow. The Government must now honour its pledge to phase out peat for garden use by 2020. The market isn’t delivering so the Government must now take effective action.”

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Steve Ott

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