£320k investment to find sustainable peat alternative

Boosted by £320,000 investment, Sizzle leads quest to find a sustainable alternative to peat derived from waste and reduce the amount of raw materials needed by the industry.

  • Innovative trial will use household food and green waste
  • Major organisations pull together to find solutions
  • Potential for trial to roll out nationwide

Replacing the estimated 1.7 million cubic meters* of peat used in horticulture with sustainable alternatives is a huge challenge, but one which has today been boosted by £320,000 of grant funding secured from the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation.

Sizzle’s 18-month trial

Newly founded environmental innovator Sizzle has brought together organisations including waste management companies, garden retailers, trade bodies, NGOs and academics to explore new sustainable alternatives to peat and how to make it easier for people to select a greener choice.

The funding will 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. The resultant materials will then potentially have a wider range of uses helping to reduce the amount of raw materials needed by the industry. We aim to explore the use of derivatives from green, agricultural and food waste streams and work closely with the local authority and waste processor to deliver key messages and increase the quality of feedstocks and resultant compost.

The project will also demonstrate 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.  

Location for this trial is currently being sought

A location for this trial is currently being sought and if successful, the results will be openly shared, enabling it to be rolled out on a national level.

The UK and Welsh Government are currently leading the way in banning retail peat based growing media sales in horticulture. Scottish Government is currently consulting on this issue.

The growing media industry needs support

The growing media industry has been moving to peat free but also needs support to find alternatives at scale that are of high quality, consistent and readily available.

This trial will help address changes that are required across the whole system, including the legislative framework, business practices and citizen behaviour. 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.  

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.

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

“We are now looking for a location to run this trial and are 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.”


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

Supporting Quotes

“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.”

Professor Alistair Griffiths, Royal Horticultural Society Director of Science and Collections

“I made my first TV programme about peat free compost for BBC Countryfile more than 30 years ago.  Hopefully we can make real progress in the context of climate change, carbon net zero and nature recovery.”

Chris Baines, Independent Environmentalist/ Horticulturist

“With the ban on the sale of peat in England just around the corner in 2024, the need to find alternatives is growing ever more urgent. At SUEZ we’re pleased to be working with partners in the value chain to play our part in the work to find a replacement that not only reduces carbon emissions, but that’s also convenient and cost-effective for people to use in their gardens.”

Adam Read, Chief External Affairs and Sustainability Officer, SUEZ recycling and recovery UK

“The National Trust has been eliminating peat from our operations for over 20 years and also works to restore areas of peatland in our care. We are fully supportive of projects like this which will help to clean up waste streams in the UK and make them suitable for replacing peat in domestic and professional horticulture. Our gardeners know the value of turning garden and kitchen waste into nutrient rich compost that is used to improve soil health – it is one of the foundational principles of sustainable gardening.”

Rebecca Bevan, Senior National Consultant - Plant Health & Sustainability, ational Trust

“We welcome Defra’s decision to ban the sale of bagged peat compost next year and are looking forward to the outcomes of further research and development into sustainable peat alternatives.”

Ailis Watt, Peat Policy Officer, The Wildlife Trusts

Other supporters of the trial include:

Mike Burks, Managing Director, The Gardens Group/ Garden Centre Association

Neil Bragg, Chair of the Growing Media Association

Dave Denny, Director of Research and Insights, HTA

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