New potting compost labelling scheme launched

  • Last updated: 6 October 2022

The horticultural industry has announced new measures to help gardeners choose their potting composts wisely. These include on-pack labelling with a QR code to help check the sustainability rating of the materials within.

Sounds good?

Well, we’ve looked into the detail and, although it’s definitely a step in the right direction, we have mixed feelings.

The good bits:

The QR code links to a sustainability ‘calculator’ for the materials in the bag. These are rated on 7 counts: Energy use, water use, social compliance, habitat and biodiversity, pollution, renewability, and resource use efficiency. This is an excellent holistic look at what gardeners are buying and using in their growing spaces.

Plus, there is optional e-learning support for retail staff at garden centres to help them advise customers choose the right product for the right purpose.

The not so good bits:

First, you need a smart phone to read the QR code on the bag. Not everyone has the time or phone capacity to do that. Depending on where the code is positioned on the bag, it might also be hard to access.

Second, the staff training is completely voluntary. In our experience, most garden centres and DIY retailers are under staffed and human contact is usually found only at the tills (or café). It is unlikely that the training will percolate through to the customer.

Finally, the Horticultural Trade Association state this is “to help remove peat by 2025-2028 in retail and 2028-2030 in plant and tree production.” Not now, not in 2023 (as recommended by the Climate Change Committee), not by 2024 (as the government propose). But up to eight more years away. Thus woefully failing to adapt their business to mitigate the climate emergency, and still working on an outdated “25 Year Environment Plan and commitments to achieve net zero by 2050.”

Our solution?

We can help you grow without peat or indeed any plastic bagged potting compost. Check out our recipes for growing mixes and home compost making at Peat-free growing or join one of our free online webinars. It’s the only true sustainable way to support our gardens’ natural environment. And if you need to buy seed sowing compost be sure to choose a peat-free, A rated product as detailed at