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Biodegradable vs Recyclable Tree Shelters

5 April 2023

Biodegradable or recyclable tree shelters – which is the most sustainable choice to protect your saplings?

It’s been hard to ignore the debate around this question in recent years – and as with so many sustainability questions, the answer is: it depends!

Achieving true sustainability will never be a simple endeavour. It often involves balancing a series of drawbacks and benefits that each solution brings, so it’s worth keeping that in mind.

Both options provide the optimal choice but for different planting environments – and that’s why at Tubex we supply both types of tree protection.


Recyclable Tree Shelters – Circular, Effective & Scalable

Plastic tree shelters manufactured using recycled materials and recycled at end-of-life represent the most sustainable choice, as demonstrated by a recent Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) study presented at the Forest Working Plastics Group in November 2022.

A major factor behind this is circularity in material use – one of the core foundations of sustainability in any industry.

Whilst biodegradable shelters remain a viable sustainable option, they represent a single-use product.

Recyclable tree shelters such as the Tubex Standard range contain a proportion of recycled material at manufacture. Once the shelters have served their purpose, they can be removed, collected and recycled through the Tubex Collection & Recycling Programme – with the recycled material being used in the manufacture of new shelters, representing a circular tree protection solution.

Ideal for both large- and small-scale planting projects, recyclable tree shelters are the most sustainable choice when collecting tree shelters at end of life is possible.


Biodegradable Tree Shelters – Collection Isn’t Always Possible

Even though recyclable shelters remain the most sustainable option, biodegradable shelters are still a responsible choice – after all, that’s why we supply our very own Tubex Nature!

So, when should you choose biodegradable over recyclable?

It’s important to remember that not every planting scheme has the resources to facilitate the collection of tree shelters at end of use. Nor is every planting location easily accessible, possibly those located miles from the nearest road or on difficult terrain.

This is when biodegradable tree shelters come into their own.

Speaking for Tubex Nature which has had its biodegradability claims externally tested: once the shelter has served its purpose, it can be left to biodegrade in situ and will, over time, start to degrade and breakdown into water and CO2 through microbiological processes.


Planting Trees – The Most Sustainable Choice of All

Transparency is one of our key values at Tubex and we believe that debates such as this are vital to achieving the best sustainability outcomes for the industry as a whole.

It is also helpful to remind ourselves of what this debate is in aid of: planting as many trees as possible.

This remains the most important priority of all and everything we do as foresters, manufacturers, tree planters and conservationists is to help serve that goal.

Whichever material choice you make; we have you covered.

Browse our range of recyclable and biodegradable tree shelters here:


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