Nursery Pot Recycling Collection

Below are the details on the new nursery pot recycling program in Montgomery County, MD. This new program was announced on July 1, but it took awhile for us to get clarifiaction on what "flower pots" were acceptable for recycling and what was not.

For those Washington Gardener Magazine readers in nearby jurisdictions that do not have pot recycling yet, I've set out a tall blue recycle bin in my back driveway* starting today. It will be labeled "nursery pots" so you can drop off your extra pots. (Please single plastic pots only. No film 2-, 4-, or 6-packs!) I will set them out for pick-up every Thursday morning. Feel free to drop off your pots anytime in the bin.

*The driveway entrance faces the Public Storage at 7800 Fenton Street - near the corner of Philadelphia Ave (Rt 410) in downtown Silver Spring, MD. You can walk over from either the Takoma and Silver Spring metro stations, bike over on the nearby path, or take the bus (#17, #18, F4/F6 all stop by within a block).

> Can you please offer more guidance on "flower pots" –
> do you take ALL kinds of plastic pots?

We’ve discovered that the term “flower pot” is limiting – yes, all colors of pots are accepted. And, perhaps “plant pot” or “nursery pot” would be more descriptive? (What do you think? What do *you* call them?)

I'm going with "nursery pot"

> Are film-plastic 4- and 6-packs okay?

No, these are not accepted. A rule of thumb is that if the container is flimsy/crinkly, then it is not accepted.

> Please also share how they are being recylced precisely.

The pots will be recycled just like the other plastics we accept. The plastic items are chopped up into small pieces, rinsed, and then formed into plastic pellets. Those pellets are then used to make new plastic items.

> What is a “garden product” by your definition? Do you mean pesticide and herbicide? Fertilizers as well?

Yes, the products include pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers. If you have specific ones, we can check on them.

This applies even when the containers are rinsed, because the workers on the sorting line have no way to know whether or not a hazardous product container has been rinsed, or whether any liquid in them is the actual product. So, to avoid shutting down the sorting line because of a hazardous product cleanup situation, our program does not accept this container type.

Please let me know how we can continue to make the plastic information more useful. I’ll be updating our how-to page as we refine our guidance, and using our blog to discuss specific containers.

Happy gardening!
--Susanne Wiggins
IT Specialist
Montgomery County Division of Solid Waste Services

Thanks, Susanne, for getting back to us with the full details. I've already gone through my garden shed stacks and loaded up my bin with round plastic pots that I know cannot be re-used for plant exchanges or club plant sales because they have plant breeder name-branding printed on them such as Proven Winners and Gardener's Confidence. Great to know they will get a new life at some point.


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