Reducing fossil plastics and polymers

In recent years we have all become more aware of the negative environmental impact of plastics, especially on our oceans. The World Economic Forum also estimates that by 2050, plastics will be responsible for nearly 15% of all global greenhouse gas emissions if we continue our current trajectory.

Less plastic = fewer carbon emissions

The virgin plastics used in packaging create more than two and a half times their own weight in carbon emissions on average. In other words, even a small amount of packaging per product has a high environmental impact. That’s why we see reducing fossil plastics and polymers in our products and packaging as critically important and urgent.

Unfortunately, we do have to use plastic packaging to ensure our products arrive in good condition with our customers. But, by taking a hard look at our entire range, we believe we can reduce the amount of plastic packaging we use, switch to lower emission plastics, or even stop using plastics altogether in some cases.

Plastic-free solutions for the horticulture industry

Our intention is to reduce our consumption of plastics in products and packaging for both incoming raw materials and outgoing products. This is not new: We’re just scaling up our efforts to provide our (greenhouse) horticulture customers with additional plastic-free solutions like biodegradable and/or compostable plant pellets, growblocks, and pots.

In 2020 we took a significant step by starting to convert the net wrapping the Jiffy-7 and Jiffy-7C pellets and growblocks from PP/PE fossil-based plastics to PLA bioplastic. PLA is a natural, plant-based material that is 100% fossil plastic-free, renewable, and sustainable. Made from corn starch, it is certified GMO-free, and is 100% biodegradable and industrially compostable.

Biodegradable pellets and growblocks

So, you can now grow your plants in non-plastic growblocks made from coconut palm waste and wrapped in a biodegradable net made from corn plant waste. All of which can be composted at the end of its life. There’s a great example of a circular-economy, non-plastic product!

By the end of 2020, we had successfully converted more than 50% of our products to PLA. We are on target to achieve 100% conversion by the end of 2021. This seemingly small change took several years of testing and development. It will lower our fossil plastic consumption by around 100 tons each year, as well as reducing the carbon footprint of this netting by more than 60%.

On target to reduce fossil plastics in packaging

In 2021, we started projects at three production locations to shrink the amount of plastic packaging, increase the amount of recycled material, and reduce the thickness of the plastics used. These projects are progressing well and are expected to contribute to our plastic reduction target by the end of 2021. The lessons learned so far are already helping us to see opportunities in other products and production locations.

Where we can’t reduce the amount of plastic we use any further, we will change to recycled plastics, bio plastics, or alternative compostable products wherever possible. Increasing the amount of recycled plastic or switching to bio plastics will further contribute to our circularity and CO2 reduction goals.

Investigating new alternatives

As we start to work more closely with suppliers on this important journey, we will build a clearer picture on where and how to target future improvements. This will be a constant process of development as innovative new materials become available. We are also making improvements at some production locations to make sure we recycle all plastics waste that raw materials arrive in.

At Jiffy, we like plants, not plastics, so we are searching for alternative materials – made from plant fibers – that can help us replace more of the plastic packaging we use. In fact, the first tests are already underway.

Find out more

Reducing plastics is just one of the ways Jiffy is helping to build a more sustainable horticulture industry. We’re also shrinking our CO2 and water footprint, investigating more renewable raw materials, and taking part in the circular economy. Find out more in the 2021 Jiffy Group Sustainability Report & Five-Year Plan. Download your free copy here. We’re proud of what we’ve already achieved. And we’re striving to do more. Follow us on Facebook and LinkedIn for updates.

Richard Stevenson


Richard Stevenson

Global Sustainability Manager

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