Reuse, Recycle Plastic Nursery Pots

I’m just one of hundreds of Connecticut gardeners with stacks of emptied plastic nursery pots growing in and around the garage and garden shed. Disposing of these pots in an environmentally responsible manner does not involve simply throwing nursery pots and trays into your town’s recycling stream. Many nursery pots are of black plastic, often made from previously recycled plastic, and are not accepted in municipal recycling programs. But these pots don’t have to end up in the trash. Read my article, Reusing & Recycling Plastic Pots in the May/June 2012 issue of Connecticut Gardener for information on how to reuse and recycle plastic nursery pots and trays.

Connecticut Gardener magazine is a wonderful resource for people gardening in Connecticut and adjoining areas. It’s full of practical articles written by real-life, get-your-hands-dirty Connecticut gardeners and each issue has an extensive list of gardening events in our region. As a public service, publishers Anne and Will Rowlands kindly posted Reusing & Recycling Plastic Pots on the Connecticut Gardener website. Subscribe to gain the knowledge and gardening insight provided by all the other articles published by Connecticut Gardener.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA When it comes time to recycle my stacks of nursery pots and trays I have two options: Ballek’s Garden Center has a plastic pot collection bin (they wash and reuse what they can and also donate collected pots to garden clubs and groups) while Staehly Farms accepts any and all empty plastic pots, tags, and trays (they recycled over 400 pounds of these last year). Before returning any used pots I shake them free of excess soil. Places willing to take back used nursery pots are doing enough … they should not have to, and may not accept pots full of packed soil or covered with caked on soil.

Any pots I don’t send for recycling I reuse. Some get washed and saved for seed starting and transplants, some become storage bins for plant tags, gloves, or wood for the outside fire pit, others become scoops for bagged potting soil. There’s an endless number of ways these used pots can be reused. Otherwise, recycling is the way to go.

Does your favorite garden center reuse and/or recycle nursery pots? They only way to find out is to ask.

Garden thoughtfully …

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13 comments for “Reuse, Recycle Plastic Nursery Pots

  1. May 29, 2012 at 4:53 pm

    I read a similar post recently over the Garden Professors blog that pointed out some new types of pots:

  2. May 30, 2012 at 7:17 am

    Great post about awareness of do’s and don’ts of recycling. I noticed at Tower Farms in Cheshire they were using cardboard flats for those little starter plants. I like the idea of asking if you’re not sure … it will most assuredly lead to suggestions. Two heads are better than one!

    • May 31, 2012 at 8:04 am

      Margaret, Asking is the best way to make nurseries aware that recycling is a service consumers seek.

  3. May 31, 2012 at 12:33 pm

    Good advice, Joene, especially considering how the world’s increasingly getting covered up by plastic. Glad some businesses *get* it. Also, I’ve given pots to garden clubs for their annual digs and sales.

    • May 31, 2012 at 9:55 pm

      Lee, It’s good to reuse the plastic pots we can. Sharing is an excellent way. I’ve said this many times: the more consumers ask for recycling services the more likely nurseries and plant retailers are to respond.

  4. May 31, 2012 at 9:38 pm

    Joene, One of the things on my garden to-do list for this summer is to get those piles of plastic pots out of my basement. So this post was very timely and extremely helpful. Thanks for the tips!

    • May 31, 2012 at 9:56 pm

      Jean, so glad I can be of service. Hope you find recycling services in Maine.

  5. dave wright
    June 19, 2012 at 2:28 pm

    We’re a CT Recycling company that specializes in recycling pots & trays from the horticultural and agricultural industries. We were mentioned in this artice and offer free waste audits and quotes for any nursery & garden center in New England. Please refer us when speaking to local businesses.
    Thanks 203-589-6424

  6. Sheila
    April 18, 2014 at 3:54 pm

    Where can I find used pots? I tried posting on Freecycle, have gotten a few from nurseries but need more. Anyone with pots (reasonably clean, at least not caked, not cracked) in NW CT can email me at, I will gladly take them off your hands!

    • April 19, 2014 at 1:30 pm

      Good luck, Sheila. Hope posting your request here helps.

  7. Lynn Rouleau
    May 13, 2014 at 12:11 pm

    I’m collecting and recycling used plant containers of all sizes for my startup backyard nursery business. Please email Lynn Rouleau at and I will come pick them up, if within a reasonable driving distance of central CT. Thanks!

    • May 13, 2014 at 8:51 pm

      Good for you for reusing and recycling nursery pots. Hope you get some response, Lynn.

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