Lowe's recycled 230,000 pounds of plastic in just three months during a pilot test in which 22 stores collected plastic pots, trays and tags that are used with live nursery items. Following that success, Lowe's expanded the program to all stores in the continental United States, more than 1,700 locations.
Generally, curbside recycling programs are unable to accept plastic plant containers, such as pots and hanging baskets. This new program gives consumers a responsible recycling option and makes it easy for them. We provide a cart for stores and customers to return plastic plant trays, pots and tags, regardless of condition. No matter where consumers purchase the plant, they are encouraged to return the materials to a Lowe's Garden Center to be recycled.
"Lowe's plant pot and tray recycling program offers a winning solution to our customers, stores and suppliers," said Michael Chenard, director of environmental affairs for Lowe's. "Customers now have a place to take used pots; our suppliers are able to reuse the plastic trays, and recyclable material is diverted from the landfill. Everyone wins with this new program."
Once the pots and trays are returned to the store, they are picked up by local vendors and sorted. The reusable material is sterilized and reintroduced to the production cycle. Serviceable trays are recovered and reused in the growing, shipping and sale of live plants. Material not deemed reusable is crushed, banded and sent for recycling.
The new Garden Center recycling program continues Lowe's efforts to help customers make a difference, while raising awareness around the importance of recycling. Lowe's stores expanded several recycling services in 2010. In addition to launching an appliance recycling program nationwide, Lowe's installed recycling centers in more than 1,700 stores to make it easier for customers to recycle rechargeable batteries, cell phones, compact fluorescent light bulbs and plastic shopping bags.
Jordan Temos, a lawn and garden sales specialist at Lowe's of Troutman, N.C., said the early results from the Garden Center recycling program have been positive — for everyone.
"The program's been great," Temos said. "It's very easy for customers to drop off their containers, and it makes our store more efficient. We've had customers drop off an entire cart full of empty pots for recycling."