We often get asked, being responsible Corporate Citizens , what environmental issue worries us and the answer usually surprises people , as you have probably guessed , we are very concerned that very few people are talking about or even aware that we have a peatland issue and that the UK has a particular problem caused by the extraction of peat for use in compost bags.
When thinking of compostable packaging , peatlands don't automatically come to mind, but if we replaced all of those 36 million tonnes of nasty petrol based plastics with a plant based alternative, this would create enough compost to completely replace the need to extract peat for use in household compost and it would greatly reduce, if not eliminate our need to use chemical based fertilisers.
Most people when you think of carbon sponges tend to think of trees but actually peatland actually absorbs more Co2 than all the world's vegetation combined , peat actually holds 42% of all soil carbon , so when we use peat for compost or even burning ( thankfully Ireland has stopped this practice) you are actually adding 10% of all the carbon released.
Let's not forget that nature created peat bogs as a natural counterbalance / carbon sponge, so every-time you extract peat you release tonnes of carbon into the environment.
- Peat bogs account for only 3% land mass of the UK and yet they hold 20 times more carbon than all the forest in the UK combined.
- Extraction and draining of peat bogs releases 630,000 tonnes of Co2 into the environment ( the same as the Co2 generated by all the houses in Cardiff, Edinburgh and Leeds combined).
- The UK may be a small country but it contains 13% of the worlds bogs and has the biggest opportunity for benefits from ending extraction in the world , even more than Indonesia which has had a lot of media attention due to their peat bog fires.
- 75% of the UK water comes from an upland source and upland peat bogs naturally filter drinking water.
- 435kg if carbon is stored in each square meter of peat bogs.
- Peat bog drainage and extraction add over 5% of the UK Co2 emissions.
- Peatland hold 30% of the estimated 1500pg (picogram) of global soil carbon.
- Europe peatlands have reduced by 48% in 200 years .
- Each year we extract 106 million cubic feet of compost for horticulture.
- Peatlands are renewable, however the renewal rate is 1mm per year, so it will repair itself if we stop extracting from it.
- Peatland is a natural water absorber and actually reduces flooding.
- If everyone switched to a plant based compostable option, we would reduce carbon release in the UK by 630,000 tonnes of Co2.