In the latest environmental commitment by Tubex – a brand that has been at the forefront of tree shelter development since the first research into tree shelters in the early 1970s – the company has launched a unique collection and recycling programme. James Taylor, marketing director EMEIA – specialties at Berry Global, explains.

THE collection and recycling scheme developed and operated by Tubex, part of Berry Global, in collaboration with key distributors offers a simple process to ensure the responsible disposal of Tubex products is available to everyone.

Under the scheme, anyone who has bought Tubex tree shelters and is now looking to remove and dispose of them can sign up to the programme. They will be able to order bulk sacks for storing the shelters once removed, ready for them to be collected and transferred by the company to be recycled at one of Berry Group’s recycling facilities.

Once at the facility, the tree shelters will be washed and recycled into polypropylene pellets. The material will be reused by Berry Global to manufacture new tree shelters or in other businesses within the group.

For brands such as Tubex, a market leader in the UK and Europe, this represents a further step towards improving the sustainability of its products and promoting a circular economy for materials.

Tubex is constantly working to increase the use of recycled materials in the manufacturing of its products. Currently, the company’s tree shelters include up to 30-per-cent recycled polypropylene pellets, while the brand’s netting range is made from 100-per-cent recycled polymer.

Tubex tree shelters have been used to improve growth as well as protect and help plants thrive for over 40 years. In the UK alone, tree shelters result in over 13 million tree saplings being saved each year – trees that otherwise would not have survived without shelters in place.

Forestry Journal: PRP machine washing.PRP machine washing.

At the forefront of innovation, Tubex also continues to enhance its offering. The company is currently running a pilot scheme with a new biodegradable and compostable tree shelter – marking its latest environmental pledge and ushering in a new era of sustainable tree growth.

Tree shelters have, for a long time, played a fundamental role in the growth of the UK’s forests, vineyards, hectares of orchard areas, and landscaping environments. Such is the scale of their deployment that a Sunday Times article recently claimed “about 200 million” protective plastic tubes have been deployed over the past four decades by the Woodland Trust, Forestry England, the National Trust and private landowners alone.

Such popularity should perhaps come as little surprise given the positives that shelters can deliver. Evidence suggests they make a significant difference to ensuring trees can be planted safely, last much longer and grow much quicker.

READ MORE: Green-tech launches 'new alternative to plastic tree shelters'

Within the UK, tree shelters have been a vital tool where fencing and other protective measures were not viable or economically possible. Without these tree shelters saplings simply would not survive many browsing animals such as rabbits, voles and mice, which are highly prevalent across the UK. This increased plant survival rate means less initial stock needs to be purchased and planted – a clear environmental and overall cost benefit.

To put this into context, from all 75 million trees planted in the UK in 2019, Tubex tree shelters saved millions of saplings that wouldn’t have survived otherwise. What’s more, the growth of plants is significantly accelerated in a tree shelter compared to trees grown in tree nets or in nature.

Tree planting rates in the UK are expected to rise sharply in the coming years thanks to numerous government, voluntary and private sector initiatives aimed at mitigating the effects of climate change.

The Committee on Climate Change recommends 30,000 hectares (116 square miles) of woodland should be planted annually until 2050, more than double the new trees planted in 2018. This is equivalent to filling more than 46,000 standard football pitches or a space about three-quarters the size of the Isle of Wight every year.

Naturally, given this need to rapidly grow forest cover, tree guards will have a pivotal role to play in establishing and nurturing new trees. Nonetheless, with the drive for sustainability at the centre of such schemes, the need to reduce environmental waste from plastic materials is paramount.

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