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B&Q’s use of peat in top soil draws criticism from environmentalists

B&Q has reintroduced peat into bags of garden top soil despite criticism from celebrity gardeners including that it damages the environment.

Monty Don, Alys Fowler and Diarmuid Gavin all promote peat free gardening because the soil is taken from bogs that sustain rare plants, birds and animals. Also digging up peat releases greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

Even Alan Titchmarsh, who admits a small amount of peat can still be used for certain plants, says gardeners should try and cut down wherever possible.

The Government has been working with garden centres to reduce the use of peat and plan to phase it out for amateur gardening altogether by 2020.

However B&Q, who are a key part of the Growing Media Initiative working on the target, have just introduced a new line of top soil containing peat.

Verve top soil contains up to two-fifths peat. The DIY chain sells more than 800,000 litres of growing media annually, more than any other retailer, and up to £5m worth of top soil.

Martin Harper, Conservation Director of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, was disappointed.

“Ministers last year convened a task force involving horticulture industry representatives to help ensure the UK meets the target of ending domestic use of garden peat by 2020. Clearly the Government understands the harm peat extraction is doing to our environment and a growing number of gardeners and gardening suppliers do too. We hope consumers will make the right choice this spring and buy only peat free compost for their gardens.”

Friends of the Earth were also disappointed.

B&Q insisted that they are working hard to reduce peat. The chain has increased the use of peat alternatives from 56.3 per cent to 61 per cent this year and increased sales of peat-free products by 103 per cent already.

A spokesman pointed out that peat is much lighter than other materials for top soil. It therefore means less packaging is used and less fuel in transporting sacks, reducing the carbon footprint of the product.

“Our topsoil does contain a percentage of peat and we are completely transparent about that on the packaging. Adding peat in this instance makes the product lighter while maintaining product performance.”

Source : Louise Gray – The Telegraph
www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/earthnews/9176167/BandQ-criticised-for-continuing-to-use-peat.html

31 March 2012
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