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Innovative new biodegradable pots created by U of T researchers

The weather is finally getting warmer and sunnier, and that means many Torontonians are turning to thoughts of gardening. Three University of Toronto researchers are hoping to make that gardening a bit easier on the planet with the creation of an innovative new biodegradable pot, made strictly of plant-based materials.

The pot (which doesn't yet have a name) is the brainchild of Sally Krigstin, Mohini Sain, and Javad Sameni, all of the university's forestry department. It's not the first fully biodegradable pot to appear on the market in Canada, but "the difference," explains Krigstin, "is that this one has some water resistance, so it's comparable to plastic."

The biodegradable pots you might have already seen in stores, she goes on, "completely disintegrate when you put them in water." These new ones won't, she says, because of the development of a new plant-based binding material. It makes the pots much longer lasting than other biodegradable ones. The researchers have had theirs last in greenhouses for over a year.

The researchers are bringing the pots to market with the help of Myers Lawn and Garden. They recently got their first major order--for 250,000 pots--from an Ontario farmer who sells potted plants to Loblaw (though the pots won't actually be sold at their Ontario locations). But Krigstin also hopes this is just the beginning of the applications they'll be able to find for their new binding material (the patent is pending).

Next up on their development list is food packaging: Krigstin thinks they can use their binder to create new packaging options that could replace styrofoam in items such as food trays and takeout containers.

Writer: Hamutal Dotan
Source: Sally Krigstin, University of Toronto Department of Forestry
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