Leading chain store bans peat sales

Posted: 25 July 2001

The future of some of the UK's finest wildlife sites looks brighter after it was revealed that B&Q, the UK's leading home and garden chain is planning to eliminate peat from its stores.

Through its "supercentres" and "warehouse stores," B&Q accounts 30 per cent of the garden supplies market. The company acknowledges the unsustainable nature of peat extraction, and the damage it is causing to wildlife sites in the UK and abroad.

The company plans to eliminate all peat sales over the next 10 years while committing itself to clear labeling on all products, showing the percentage composition of peat/peat free. The store intends to increase its range of entirely peat-free products.

In the last 50 years, more than 90 per cent of the UK's lowland raised peatbogs have been destroyed by peat extraction, forestry and agriculture.

Raised bogs are formed over thousands of years by decomposing sphagnum mosses, which retain large quantities of water. Conditions in such bogs are more acidic than most other habitats and so the sites support animals and plants which have adapted to these conditions.

Bogs such as those found at Thorne moor in Yorkshire and Hatfield moor in North Lincolnshire support a wide diversity of rare and threatened species, including the great sundew, the UK's largest carnivorous plant, and birds such as the golden plover.

B&Q's decision follows a campaign by Friends of the Earth and other garden supplies retailers.

Peat producers have also been targeted in the peat free campaign, which advised gardeners not to buy a product called Miracle-Gro which contains peat "stripped from some of the very best wildlife habitats in the UK and Ireland," according to the group.

Miracle-Gro, which does not mention peat content on its label, is produced by gardening supplier Levington's, owned by the Marysville, Ohio-based Scotts Company, the world's largest supplier and marketer of consumer products for lawn and garden care. Hatfield and Thorne moors have experienced industrial scale peat extraction by Scotts. The company wants compensation from the UK government for having to leave the Special Protection Areas established last year.

Environmental groups have called on the company to hand back to the local communities any compensation payments. It wants the money to be placed in a trust fund to support job creation through the development of habitat restoration programmes and wildlife tourism facilities.

Source: Environment News Service, April 17, 2001