James A. Schrader - 4/20/13
The total amount of plastic used per year for specialty-crop containers in the United States is over 754,000 metric tons based on plant/container units sold in 2009. Because this estimate is based on sales of containerized plants, it does not include plastic containers sold to consumers for their personal use in growing plants. Therefore, the estimate is logically lower than the actual overall total for plastics used to grow containerized plants per year, but provides a strong estimate of the amount of plastics used for containers utilized by industry professionals.
An itemized account of plastics used for containers in each of 18 container-crop categories is provided in the Report on the Annual Consumption of Plastics for Specialty-Crop Containers in the United States by James A. Schrader. Estimates are provided in four typical units of measure for each of the 18 categories and for the grand total across all categories. The full assessment and detailed breakdown of categories, represntative container sizes, and weights is provided in the Calculation of Container Plastics document.
These estimates were calculated based on data collected by the USDA and available in the 2009 Census of Horticultural Specialties. For each container specialty-crop category, available information was used to select representative container types. The representative containers were weighed, and the measured weights were used to calculate the total weight of plastics per category and the grand total. Therefore, the estimates are fairly robust because they are based on actual census data for plant/container units produced and sold by specialty-crop professionals.