Plant pots cleared from Packaging Regulations in nursery judgement

Hampshire-based Hillier Nurseries Ltd has won a landmark case in Lyndhurst Magistrates Court. The Environment Agency claimed that millions of plant pots bought from garden centres each year constituted packaging. They brought a criminal prosecution against Hillier Nurseries under the Packaging Regulations for failing to register, failing to recycle packaging and failing to provide a certificate of compliance.

Hillier Nurseries contended that the Environment Agency’s interpretation that plant pots are a form of packaging under the Producer Responsibility Obligations (Packaging Waste) Regulations 1997 was incorrect.

The magistrate concluded that the primary purpose of a plant pot is for growing plants, which he highlighted as an intrinsic part of the production process. The magistrate commented: “If the pot is packaging, the plant must be the almost, if not entirely, unique product to be produced within its own packaging, as opposed to other products which are produced and subsequently placed into packaging.”

He concluded: “In my judgement, the plastic flower pot is conceived as a means by which a plant may be produced. It is not conceived so as to constitute a sales unit to the final user or consumer at the point of purchase. Accordingly, the plastic flower pot does not fall within the definition of packaging set out in regulation two of the Regulations and the defendant company is not guilty.”

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