WHAT: Plastic Pot Recycling and "Pots to Planks" plastic lumber program

WHEN: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekends only, May 21-22, 28-29; June 4-5, 11-12, 18-19 and 25-26

WHERE: Monsanto Center of the Missouri Botanical Garden, west parking lot 4500 Shaw Blvd. at Vandeventer

SPONSORS: Missouri Botanical Garden, the St. Louis-Jefferson Solid Waste Management District, Missouri Environmental Improvement and Energy Resource Authority, the Missouri Department of Natural Resources and Monrovia, Inc.

INFO: or (314) 577-9440

(ST. LOUIS): The Missouri Botanical Garden has expanded its popular Plastic Pot Recycling program to six weekends this spring and summer, due to enthusiastic response. Bring clean plastic garden pots and trays to the Garden's Monsanto Center, 4500 Shaw Blvd. at Vandeventer, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekends only beginning May 21 through June 26 and receive a complimentary admission pass for two to the Garden. The Monsanto Center will be the only collection center in the area this year.

"We are pleasantly surprised at the continued response by area gardeners to recycle their horticultural plastic each year," said Dr. Steven Cline, who started the program in 1998 and manages the Kemper Center for Home Gardening. Plastic garden pots and trays should be cleaned in advance and free of wire hangers. No household plastic will be accepted. Gardeners are encouraged to save their pots and trays all year long for this annual event.
Each person who recycles garden plastic will receive one admission pass, redeemable for a Garden visit for two. Passes will only be distributed during the collection hours of 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on May 21-22, 28-29, June 4-5, 11-12, 18-19, and 25-26.

Over 90 volunteers assist the collection efforts. This year they hope to collect and process 60,000 pounds of plastic, an increase of one third over last year's goal. Weekend collections have totaled over 350,000 pounds since the program was initiated.

Monrovia, Inc., the largest grower of containerized plants in the U. S., has granted $5,000 in support of this collection program in 2005 to acknowledge the environmental leadership that such an effort can make in the horticulture industry. The St. Louis-Jefferson Solid Waste Management District, Missouri Environmental Improvement and Energy Recycling Authority and the Missouri Department of Natural Resources have also assisted with program funding. Their support has allowed the purchase of additional equipment necessary to process larger containers and bulk quantities from the public and horticulture industry. Increased mechanical capacity also affords a larger geographic collection from adjacent Solid Waste Districts.

Collected plastic will be shredded and chipped on site and sent to Environmental Recycling, Inc. of St. Louis. The recycled material will be made into two- by six-inch planks of lumber, which will then be sold as kits to home gardeners to build raised garden beds. Last year 40,000 pounds of collected plastic was converted into approximately 13,000 linear feet of lumber and sold back to the public over a nine-month period.

"Our hope is to affect how the horticultural industry could assist in managing this annual 350 million pound waste system in the U. S., and to change the public view of recycling into one that inspires product development, as we have done here," said Dr. Cline. An example of a garden bed made from recycled lumber is on display at the Garden's Kemper Center for Home Gardening, 4344 Shaw Blvd.

The Pots to Planks brochure and order form is available online at Gardeners can place an order now for the recycled lumber and raised bed kits to be delivered in August. Supply is limited, so call the plastic lumber hotline at (314) 577-9443 to learn about availability.