Biodiversity, Sustainability and the Environment

At Notcutts, nature is right at the heart of our business and embedded in our horticultural and countryside DNA. We know that everything we do has an impact on nature and that’s why we want to protect it for generations to come.

There are many dimensions to looking after the environment. There is no single thing alone that needs our attention. So that’s why we’ve established a pathway of actions to bring positive contributions to nature, to biodiversity, to sustainability and the environment.

We have been making changes to how we work and we are continuing to take steps to become a more sustainable business. In 2022 we appointed a Sustainability Manager dedicated to delivering our green agenda.

We know that we have further to go. We’d like to tell you more about what we’ve done so far and where we will be concentrating our focus next.


Award Winning

We are proud to have been Highly Commended in the Employee Engagement Award category at the 2023 annual national PlanetMark Awards. These awards celebrate companies that demonstrate exceptional progress in their environmental and sustainability journey.

Notcutts were recognised for the substantial strides made in energy reduction as well as waste management, reduced water consumption and supporting biodiversity by involving our colleagues in initiatives across the company.



Our approach

We are working to reduce the amount of waste we create and together with our suppliers are reducing the plastic and packaging across our business.


Here's what we've done so far

We recycle wood, paper, plastic, food and green waste in all our garden centres.

We offer recyclable paper bags to our customers at our tills.

We have a range of plants grown in taupe coloured pots. These are made from carbon black-free, recycled polypropylene that can be identified by near infrared (NIR) and consequently recycled through household recycling schemes. We are working with all our suppliers for more sustainable solutions and all other plant pots are made from recycled products where possible.

We have introduced a range of bedding plants with packaging trays made from recycled plastic bottles. In our propagation department we also stock seed trays made from the same recycled materials.

The majority of the pot trays our plants are transported in are made from recycled materials and are recycled again after use.

We have introduced a range of plastic alternative products including plant pots made from coir, wood fibre, bamboo and bio based vegetable starch.

Our extensive range of herbs and plants from the Hairy Pot Company can be planted straight into the ground in their coir pots with no waste packaging.

The greetings cards we stock no longer have outer plastic sleeves and we now have a range of plastic free Christmas crackers.

We have removed plastic drinking straws from our restaurants and plastic wrapping from our sandwiches.

The cooking oil we use is collected and taken for biofuel production.

Our restaurants work with local food banks where possible, to reduce food waste and support local communities.

We have changed the way we market and communicate to our customers and have now dramatically reduced the paper we use for mailings, brochures and letters. By going digital we have reduced our yearly paper use by 65 tonnes.

We have introduced plastic pot recycling zones for customers in all our garden centres. Customers can choose to reuse pots from here if they wish and we will arrange for all other plastic pots to be recycled through our partners.

We also encourage customers to return their compost bags and wild bird seed bags for us to recycle.

Used coffee grounds from our restaurant coffee machines are available for customers to take away to use in their gardens. Coffee grounds contain nutrients that will benefit soil and help nitrogen-loving plants thrive.


Here's what we're working on now

We will continue to work with our suppliers to reduce packaging and grow our range of sustainable products in all areas of our business.

Recycled cardboard

Paper bags

Email marketing on a smart phone

Plant pot recycling station


Our approach

We understand how precious water is and are working to reduce the amount of mains water we use.


Here's what we've done so far

We support our customers in saving water by offering a wide range of products such as water collection butts and timers for watering systems.

We provide information and education on plants that require less water and how to retain moisture in soil using mulch and soil enrichers.

We provide water for customers to drink or refill their re-usable bottles in all our restaurants.

We have invested in rainwater harvesting tanks and now collect rainwater for irrigation in six of our garden centres. 

We have introduced capillary matting on our plant benches to ensure our watering is more efficient.


Here's what we're working on now

We are continuing our programme to reduce the amount of mains water we use.

We are adapting the way we work to ensure our mains irrigation systems are optimised.

Water butt collecting rainwater

Jug of fresh tap water

Rainwater harvesting system

Energy and Carbon Footprint

Our approach

We are working to reduce the amount of energy we use and we are investing in more sustainable ways of powering our garden centres.


Here's what we've done so far

The electricity we use in all our garden centres is now supplied by green energy providers.

We generate power from our own solar installations in our Norwich and Tunbridge Wells garden centres.

We have installed energy efficiency equipment including LED lighting, light sensors and timers in the majority of our garden centres. We have introduced our first electric forklift trucks in our Peterborough and Rivendell garden centres.

We have partnered with PlanetMark who have certified our carbon footprint measurement. We have set our energy reduction targets at 15%. We actively measure and compare our energy usage between our garden centres and encourage a focus from our colleagues in adopting efficient working practices. In November 2023 we were delighted to receive the highly commended award from PlanetMark recognising the positive impact of initiatives to reduce energy consumption, waste management, water consumption and supporting biodiversity.

We are increasingly looking for more locally based suppliers for each of our garden centres which will reduce progressively the amounts of energy used in supplier deliveries. We support British growers first and foremost and approximately 90% of our outdoor plants are British grown. In 2023 all our herbs will be British grown.

In our restaurants we offer vegetarian and vegan options daily which can help reduce our impact on the environment.


Here's what we're working on now

We are developing plans to introduce solar installations in more of our garden centres over the next few years. We are also investigating the potential for more of our countryside land holdings to be repurposed to host land based solar arrays if we can successfully achieve planning permission to do this.

We are reviewing the feasibility of moving to electric or hydrogen vehicles in the future. We plan to switch our forklifts to electric upon renewal.

We are assessing all of our garden centres to develop our plans for introducing customer electric vehicle charging points.

We will expand our programme of product sourcing from local suppliers to continue our focus on the reduction of supplier miles.

We are planning to move our restaurants’ energy supply from gas to sustainably sourced electric as part of our redevelopment programme.

Solar panels at Norwich Garden Centre

Planetmark certificates

Electric vehicle being charged



Our approach

We are working to reduce the impact we have on wildlife and their habitats as well as creating new environments in which plants, insects and animals can thrive.


Here's what we've done so far

We help our customers to make better informed environmental choices by offering a wide range of natural products for garden care.

From January 2023 all the compost we sell is peat free. Peatlands are hugely important to the environment. They act as a natural carbon store and our peatlands are home to a variety of wildlife. 

We are actively working with our plant suppliers to reduce and remove peat from their growing media.

We carefully select the plants we sell and participate in the Plant Passport scheme to ensure all our plants are healthy and traceable. We take steps to minimise any risk of plant disease and only source from safe regions to support biosecurity. We no longer import olive trees and other plants susceptible to Xylella fastidiosa.

In our Woodbridge garden centre we have restored woodland pathways to create a beautiful nature walk. Customers can enjoy the wooden animal sculptures, woodland sphere and see the many bird and bat boxes that have been installed. The bug hotels have been made from natural materials and the tiles from a Victorian apple store.

In our Tunbridge Wells garden centre we have created a wildlife pond. Here school children can learn about the water as a habitat through pond dipping sessions.

In our Dukeries garden centre we have introduced an amazing Notcutts garden with a large pond that is home to an abundance of wildlife and wildflowers.  In our Woodford Park garden centre we have opened a stunning nature trail with specialist areas to attract birds, frogs, hedgehogs, butterflies and bees.

All our garden centres have designated wildlife spaces and displays which demonstrate how to create bug hotels and habitats for bees, insects and wildlife. We sell a range of products which enable customers to build these in their own gardens.

We have increased our range of pollinator friendly plants and introduced an enlarged offer of wildflower seeds, suitable for wildflower meadows.

“Prevention is better than cure” is also true in the garden and we offer a good selection of barrier nets and meshes to protect crops without the need for any treatments. We removed all products containing glyphosate and rodenticides at the end of December 2022.

We planted over 2500 new trees in our garden centre grounds and surrounding communities during 2022. Trees are one of nature’s best ways of sequestering carbon and generating oxygen. Take a look at our guide to carbon absorption.

Here's what we're working on now

We are continuing to help wildlife and support our customers in the choices they make with improved products and information around key areas including berries for birds, plants for pollinators and how to make natural habitats with hedging, logs and insect houses.


Bug and bee hotels

Pond dipping at Tunbridge Wells

Our colleagues and our customers

Our approach

We are providing education to our colleagues and customers to support behaviours and choices that help make a difference.


Here's what we've done so far

We provide training to our teams and information about our product credentials highlighting those with particular benefits to the environment.

We provide ‘how to guides’ and advice in our garden centres and on our website as part of our desire to help customers appreciate the contributions they can make.

We have undertaken a company wide engagement programme with our colleagues to shape our future strategy around biodiversity, sustainability and the environment.

We have introduced sustainability champions across the company.

We have introduced recognition awards for colleagues who come up with initiatives that help us move forward with our environmental agenda and for the garden centre that has done the most in this area across the year.

We have introduced a cycle to work scheme.

We have launched a scheme to support colleagues who would like to volunteer in their local community to support with environmental and wellbeing projects.

Here's what we're working on now

We will continue to expand our programme of education and training to support our journey to greener gardening.

We will expand our range of advice and guidance to colleagues and customers.

We will offer our colleagues environmentally friendly and sustainable products to try at home so they can experience them for themselves and provide personal advice for our customers.

Person raking soil

A young sapling tree



Looking Forward

As a member of the Horticultural Trades Association (HTA) we fully support our industry targets and are committed to working towards the published targets as a minimum.

By 2025 this will mean:

  • A minimum of a net reduction of 20% in scope 1 and 2 CO2 emissions
  • An increase of at least 40% of water used from non-mains and re-used water sources
  • The sourcing of a minimum of 40% of plant pots and packaging from recycled plastic
  • Accelerated peat reduction in the growing media of the plants we sell

We are also supporters of the British Retail Consortium (BRC) roadmap and are committed to their overarching goals to becoming net carbon zero. This means

  • By 2030 – achievement of net zero carbon for Scope 2 emissions
  • By 2035 – achievement of net zero carbon for Scope 1 emissions
  • By 2040 – achievement of net zero carbon for Scope 3 emissions

We have set ourselves targets for improvement against our Streamlined Energy and Carbon Reporting (SECR) baseline from 2019/20 and have targeted an annual reduction of energy consumption of 15% for 2023/24. Every year we will review our plans and look to accelerate our progress across the timeframe on our journey to reducing our carbon footprint.

A small plant being handed to someone

Solar panels