Biodegradable containers

potsCurrently, one of the most widely discussed topics in the green industry, which is promulgated by consumers exhibiting greater degrees of environmental awareness, is the issue of environmental sustainability.  This has lead to a desire for products that not only solve the needs of consumers but are also produced and marketed using sustainable production and business practices. Consumers increasingly place a greater emphasis on product packaging and this has carried over to the grower sector in the form of biodegradable pots. While various forms of these eco-friendly pots have been available for several years, their marketing appeal was limited due to their less-than-satisfying appearance. With the recent availability of more attractive biodegradable plant containers, a renewed interest in their suitability in the green industry and their consumer acceptance has emerged. The objective of this study was to determine the characteristics of biodegradable pots that consumers deem most desirable and to identify distinct consumer segments, thus allowing producers/businesses to more efficiently utilize their resources to offer specific product attributes to those who value them the most.

The authors gratefully acknowledge funding from the American Floral Endowment (AFE), the Horticultural Research Institute (HRI), and the Federal-State Marketing Improvement Program (FSMIP) that was instrumental in conducting this research effort.

The following publications present the major findings from this project:

Hall, Charles, Benjamin Campbell, Bridget Behe, Chengyan Yue, Jennifer Dennis, and Roberto Lopez. 2010. The appeal of biodegradable packaging to floral consumers. HortScience 45(4):583-591.

Lopez, Roberto, Jennifer Dennis, Bridget Behe, Charles Hall, Chengyan Yue, and Benjamin Campbell. 2010. Sustainable production practices adopted by greenhouse and nursery plant growers. HortScience 45(8):1232-1237.

Yue, Chengyan, Charles R. Hall, Bridget K. Behe, Benjamin L. Campbell, Jennifer H. Dennis, and Roberto G. Lopez. 2010. Investigating consumer preference for biodegradable containers. Journal of Environmental Horticulture 28(4):239-243.

Yue, Chengyan, Charles R. Hall, Bridget K. Behe, Benjamin L. Campbell, Jennifer H. Dennis, and Roberto G. Lopez. 2010.  Are consumers willing to pay more for biodegradable containers that for plastic ones? Journal of Agricultural and Applied Economics 42(4):757-772.

Behe, Bridget, Benjamin Campbell, Jennifer Dennis, Charles Hall, Roberto Lopez, and Chengyan Yue. 2010. Gardening consumer segments vary in eco-practices. HortScience 45(10):1475-1479.

Yue, Chengyan, Jennifer Dennis, Bridget Behe, Charles Hall, Benjamin Campbell, and Roberto Lopez. 2011. Investigating consumer preference for organic, local, and sustainable plants.  HortScience 46(4):610-615.

Greenhouse Grower Series:

Hall, Charlie, Bridget Behe, Ben Campbell, Jennifer Dennis, Roberto Lopez, and Chengyan Yue. 2011. Demand for sustainability, Part 1: How appealing are biodegradable containers? Greenhouse Grower 29(1):72-76.

Lopez, Roberto, Jennifer Dennis, Bridget Behe, Charlie Hall, Chengyan Yue, and Ben Campbell. 2011. Demand for sustainability, Part 2: What are growers doing about sustainability? Greenhouse Grower 29(2):32-36.

Behe, Bridget, Ben Campbell, Jennifer Dennis, Charles Hall, Roberto Lopez, and Chengyan Yue. 2011. Demand for sustainability, Part 3: No two consumers are alike. Greenhouse Grower 29(3):32-36.

Campbell, Benjamin, Bridget Behe, Charlie Hall, Jennifer Dennis, Roberto Lopez, and Chengyan Yue. 2011. Demand for sustainability, Part 4: The value of biodegradable containers. Greenhouse Grower 29(4):40-44.

Yue, Chengyan, Jennifer Dennis, Bridget Behe, Charlie Hall, Benjamin campbell, and Roberto Lopez. 2011. Demand for sustainability, Part 5: Consumer interest in “green” plants. Greenhouse Grower 29(5):58-60.

Presentations related to the project:

Yue, C., C. Hall, B. Behe, B. Campbell, R. Lopez, and J. Dennis. 2010. “Are Consumers Willing to Pay More for Biodegradable Containers Than for Plastic Ones? Evidence from Hypothetical Conjoint Analysis and Non-Hypothetical Experimental Auctions.” Agricultural and Applied Economics Association. Denver, CO, July 26-28.

Hall, C.R., B.L. Campbell, B.K. Behe, C. Yue, R.G. Lopez, and J.H. Dennis. 2010. “The Appeal of Biodegradable Packaging to Floral Consumers.” Department of Food and Resource Economics, University of Guelph, May 26th.

Hall, C.; Behe, B.; Campbell, B.; Dennis, J.; Lopez, R.; Yue, C. “Market Segments of U.S. Floral Consumers Based on Attitudes Towards Biodegradable Packaging” at the 28th International Horticultural Congress. Lisbon, Portugal. August 22-27, 2010.

Hall, C.; Behe, B.; Campbell, B.; Dennis, J.; Lopez, R.; Yue, C. “The Appeal of Biodegradable Packaging to U.S. Floral Consumers” at the 28th International Horticultural Congress. Lisbon, Portugal. August 22-27, 2010.

Behe, B. K.; Campbell, B. L.; Dennis, J. H.; Hall, C. R.; Lopez, R. G.; Yue, C. “Eco-Attitudes and Behaviors of Annual, Perennial, Herb and Vegetable Buyers from Four U.S. States” at the 28th International Horticultural Congress. Lisbon, Portugal. August 22-27, 2010.

Rihn, A. L.; Yue, C.; Behe, B. K.; Hall, C. R. “Floral Gift Perceived Practicality, Fragrance and Longevity by Generations X and Y” at the 28th International Horticultural Congress. Lisbon, Portugal. August 22-27, 2010.

Yue, C.; Behe, B.; Campbell, B.; Dennis, J.; Hall, C.; and Lopez, R. “Are Consumers Willing to Pay More for Biodegradable Containers than for Plastic Ones? A Comparison of Results from Hypothetical Conjoint Analysis and Non-Hypothetical Experimental Auctions” at the 28th International Horticultural Congress. Lisbon, Portugal. August 22-27, 2010.

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2 Responses to Biodegradable containers

  1. Interesting point Chris raises. We have used biodegradeable pots in the past but found that some of them did not biodegrade quickly enough and the plants roots were constrained and some were root bound. So we use ordinary plastic pots and bags but keep them for our own potting – we also use plastic milk bottles cut in half. Garden centers acting as a drop off and collection point is an excellent idea and one that would be very popular.

  2. Are you approaching this from the right angle? Surely it would be far better to re-use existing plant containers (pots) than to expend energy in continually recycling them or manufacturing biodegradable containers.

    For example – our local garden center encourages its customers to leave their used containers (plastic plant pots) in a box and also encourages other customers who want those containers to take them, free of charge. Seems like a good idea, I don’t know if it could be scaled to any level though.

    Chris

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