Waste or council site sought for peat substitute project

Local authorities and waste management companies are being invited to take part in research work to find a substitute for peat in compost.

Councils and the waste sector are invited to get involved in finding alternatives to peat

The invitation comes from the Community Interest Company, Sizzle, which has secured £320,000 for the work from the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation.

Peat will be banned from sale in England in 2024. Now, Trewin Restorick who heads up Sizzle and previously helped set up the Hubbub charity, is looking to explore new sustainable alternatives to peat and “how to make it easier for people to select a greener choice”.


The organisation said that replacing the estimated 1.7 million cubic metres of peat used in horticulture with sustainable alternatives is a huge challenge. The Esmée Fairbairn Foundation is to support an initial 18-month trial that will look to enhance the quality and consistency of composted materials derived from waste streams, in a specific area.

Sizzle is looking for a location to run a trial and is keen to hear from local authorities and waste management companies within the UK

Sizzle said that it is looking for a location to run this trial and is very keen to hear from local authorities and waste management companies within the UK that have ambitious targets for cutting carbon emissions and have a desire to reduce waste contamination and build more circular solutions.

Changes required

The trial aims to help address changes that are required “across the whole system, including the legislative framework, business practices and citizen behaviour”.

The project will include demonstrating to gardeners how best to use peat alternatives as a growing medium and highlight how composting and the use of wormeries can create mulch and soil enhancers.

Areas of focus include reducing contamination from waste streams to enhance the quality of materials that could be part of the peat replacement process and identifying potential legislative blockers which might unexpectedly hinder the use of waste derivatives as part of the transition from peat.

Peatlands are a large natural carbon store – when they are damaged and mined to produce compost, it releases carbon into the atmosphere

Trewin Restorick, founder of Sizzle said: “We must hasten the transition from the use of peat in horticulture to more sustainable alternatives, however to achieve this we need systemic change, from producers through to customers. We’re particularly keen to explore whether a sufficiently high volume of well-composted waste derived material could be used at the scale and quality required by the industry.”

Mr Restorick continued: ”I’m optimistic that with new levels of collaboration between organisations who haven’t previously connected, plus this fantastic funding boost from the Esmée Fairburn Foundation to run a localised trial, we can show what’s possible and provide some innovative solutions at scale.”

RHS support

The Royal Horticultural Society is one of many supporters of the project. Professor Alistair Griffiths of the RHS said: “Peatlands are the world’s largest carbon store on land, with great potential to store carbon long term, helping to reach Net Zero. They reduce flooding, when rewetted reduce fire risks and provide valuable habitats for both plants and animals. To tackle the climate and biodiversity crises, it is essential that collectively we have a sustainable transition to peat-free alternative growing medias. The RHS is very supportive of this project and will continue to collaborate with Defra, the horticulture industry, gardeners and others to accelerate the sustainable transition to peat-free.”

Councils and waste firms are invited to contact Trewin Restorick

Other organisations to have signalled their support for the peat alternative work include: Forth Resource Management, Caledonian Horticulture, SUEZ UK, National Trust,
The Wildlife Trusts, Garden Centre Association, Growing Media Association and the Horticultural Trades Association.


Organisations interested in supporting the trial or being involved in the wider development of activities, should contact trewin@sizzle.org.uk or visit www.sizzle.org.uk

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