13. Jan 2022
VistaTek LLC, a leading custom injection molder based in Stillwater, Minn., has developed a plant-based garden pot that is one of the first plantable and compostable pots for the garden market, thus offering major sustainability benefits.
Leading automation specialist Muller Technology partnered with VistaTek, providing the latest in-mold labeling (IML) technology to facilitate efficient manufacturing and high-volume production.
The unique garden product is certified under ASTM D6400 industrial compostable standards. It is one of the first to contain plant nutrients which are compounded into the plastic resin formulation. VistaTek’s garden pot, which is based on polylactic acid (PLA), is being used by Proven Winners, one of the largest national growers in North America and a supplier to Big Box retailers and regional nurseries. The four-inch round pot, launched under the PW EcoPlus Grande line, will be commercially available to growers and retailers in the spring of 2022.
“To compete in the global market, you need world-class partners and we were fortunate to collaborate with Muller, whose manufacturing know-how and automation expertise gave us a major leg up,” said Danny Mishek, president of VistaTek. “They saw our vision and complemented and supported our project, bringing us to the finish line.”
The VistaTek garden pot is an environmentally-friendly alternative to traditional plastics, fiber, and rice hull pots, delivering major sustainability advantages to the garden industry. Garden enthusiasts can plant the pot in the ground and it will compost without having to be removed from the ground. The nutrients which are compounded into the plastic break down and feed the plant, thus enhancing the overall growth potential. Mishek added that the plant-based pot meets the needs of commercial growers who require a less brittle construction, pleasing aesthetics, and consumer functionality.
“This is a significant development in the garden industry and we’re thrilled about our partnership and the ability of our innovative IML technology to help VistaTek meet their high-productivity needs,” said Taras Konowal, director of sales and marketing for Muller Technology.
Mishek said that automation played a major role in the success of the project. Brands saw the advantages that IML could bring because early labeling technologies were inconsistent, clumsy, expensive, and low quality. In addition, traditional label decoration techniques like pad printing, and screen printing were non-sustainable. VistaTek developed its first garden pot in 2014 and it has since evolved with different materials and now an added label decoration. The company developed a special PLA formulation and a patented four-tab construction.
A PLA label is applied in the mold and the product is stacked on conveyors. The IML equipment can ramp up to high-volume production while also offering the flexibility to run other jobs on the same machine.
VistaTek expects to produce other pot sizes for Proven Winners. The company also sells its own plant-based garden pots and drinkware under the SelfEco trade name.