Green campaigners call for selling peat to be banned as garden centres reveal they will miss target to end sales by next year

  • Peat is a valuable carbon sink that absorbs excess CO2 in the atmosphere  
  • It is not sustainable and a voluntary target was set to stop its sale by 2020 
  • An ITV Tonight investigation found this would not be realistic 
  • Campaigners are now calling for legally-binding legislation to the peat issue 

Green campaigners and environmentalists have taken aim at the garden centre industry after it emerged it will miss a Government target to stop selling peat.

A voluntary target signed eight years ago was intended to put an end to the use of peat by 2020 due to the severe impact it has on the environment.

An ITV Tonight report reveals the optional target will not be met and outraged  campaigners are calling for legally-binding legislation. 

Peat is a major component in compost and obtaining it from the native bogland destroys a unique habitat and releases greenhouse gases. 

A major source of the sought after peat material is in Ireland, where production and bagging is continuing at a rapid rate. A voluntary target was put in place to stop the sale of peat by 2020 (stock)

A major source of the sought after peat material is in Ireland, where production and bagging is continuing at a rapid rate. A voluntary target was put in place to stop the sale of peat by 2020 (stock)

Dr Catherine O’Connell of the Irish Peatland Conservation told ITV Tonight: ‘I’m very disappointed that peat sales continue in UK garden centres.

‘We now need clear leadership from the top and a legal ban is the solid way forward.’ 

The gardening industry as a whole has responded by announcing it will redouble efforts to end peat usage. 

One of these moves will involve a new labelling system, similar to calorie information on food, to give more information on the environmental impact of the product. 

James Barnes, the chair of the Horticultural Trades Association which represents garden centres, said: ‘I think we need to make strides to make that clear. 

‘What we are hoping to launch later this year is a responsible sourcing scheme… to inform the consumer what is in a bag of growing media.’ 

Peat forms in bogland and takes centuries to form and its destruction is a permanent process. 

It is a natural carbon sink, meaning it soaks up excess carbon dioxide in the air. 

Its destruction, however, undoes this and releases the greenhouse gas back into the atmosphere.  

Peat forms in bogland and takes centuries to form and its destruction is a permanent process. It is a natural carbon sink, meaning it soaks up excess carbon dioxide in the air (stock)

A major source of the sought after material is Ireland, where production and bagging is continuing at a rapid rate. 

The ITV investigation revealed none of the major garden centre chains have eradicated peat from their stores. 

It also found that so-called ‘reduced peat’ compost can still be up made mostly from the material, sometimes totalling up to 90 per cent.  

Mr Barnes added: ‘I think in all honesty the 2020 target will be very difficult to reach.’

He did, however, reveal that the amount of peat has been cut by more than half (56 per cent) with the introduction of ‘reduced peat’.   





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