Clean Technologies and Environmental Policy

, Volume 21, Issue 10, pp 1937–1948 | Cite as

Utilization of paper waste as growing media for potted ornamental plants

  • Antonios ChrysargyrisEmail author
  • Menelaos Stavrinides
  • Konstantinos Moustakas
  • Nikos TzortzakisEmail author
Original Paper


The paper industry generates significant quantities of waste. The recycling of paper waste (PW) for peat replacement in growing media for ornamental plants cultivation was studied. Five ratios of PW–peat (0%, 10%, 30%, 50% or 100% v/v) were evaluated for marigold (Calendula officinalis L.), petunia (Petunia × hybrita L.) and matthiola (Matthiola incana L.) plants. Addition of PW increased the substrate pH and mineral content but decreased the air-filled porosity. In marigold, the use of 100% PW reduced plant height, plant diameter, fresh weight for both leaves and flowers and the total number of flowers produced compared to the control (100% peat). In matthiola, 100% PW reduced plant height, whereas the addition of PW even at 10% decreased plant diameter and fresh weight (biomass) but increased dry matter content. Petunia plants grown in 100% PW exhibited lower growth (plant height and diameter), whereas adding ≥ 50% of PW decreased plant fresh weight. The total number of flower buds and open flowers increased (more than twofold) on plants grown in 30% PW compared to the control substrate, indicating flower earliness. Plant leaf chlorophyll content (Chl a, Chl b, total Chl) decreased as the PW ratio increased. Total phenolics and antioxidant capacity as well as plant damage index and enzymes scavenging activities varied among species. Mineral content fluctuated among species with decreases of N and P in plants grown in PW mixtures while matthiola showed phytotoxicity symptoms. The present study suggests that peat can be substituted by up to 30% of PW for marigold and petunia for potting culture, but not for matthiola, as the physicochemical properties of the substrate need further improvement.

Graphical abstract


Paper waste Ornamental Peat Recycling Seedlings Enzyme activity 



  1. Abad M, Noguera P, Bures S (2001) National inventory of organic wastes for use as growing media for ornamental potted plant production: case study in Spain. Bioresour Technol 77:197–200Google Scholar
  2. Arancon NQ, Edwards CA, Babenko A, Cannon J, Galvis P, Metzger JD (2008) Influences of vermicomposts, produced by earthworms and microorganisms from cattle manure, food waste and paper waste, on the germination, growth and flowering of petunias in the greenhouse. Appl Soil Ecol 39:91–99Google Scholar
  3. Atiyeh RM, Edwards CA, Subler S, Metzger JD (2001) Pig manure vermicomposts as components of horticultural bedding plant medium: effects on physicochemical properties and plant growth. Bioresour Technol 78:11–20Google Scholar
  4. Avsian-Kretchmer O, Gueta-Dahan Y, Lev-Yadun S, Gollop R, Ben-Hayyim G (2004) The salt-stress signal transduction pathway that activates the gpx1 promoter is mediated by intracellular H2O2, different from the pathway induced by extracellular H2O2. Plant Physiol 135(3):1685–1696Google Scholar
  5. Azevedo Neto AD, Prisco JT, Enéas-Filho J, Abreu CEB, Gomes-Filho E (2006) Effect of salt stress on antioxidative enzymes and lipid peroxidation in leaves and roots of salt-tolerant and salt sensitive maize genotypes. J Environ Exp Bot 56:87–94Google Scholar
  6. Benedetto A, Petracchi JC, Marcella G, Montaron P, Chavez W (2006) Evaluation of alternative substrates for bedding plants. Int J Agric Res 1:545–554Google Scholar
  7. Bravo M, De Brito J, Pontes J, Evangelista L (2015) Mechanical performance of concrete made with aggregates from construction and demolition waste recycling plants. J Clean Prod 99:59–74Google Scholar
  8. Bugbee GJ (2002) Growth of ornamental plants in container media amended with biosolids composts. Compost Sci Util 10:92–98Google Scholar
  9. Bullock CH, Collier MJ, Convery F (2012) Peatlands, their economic value and priorities for their future management—The example of Ireland. Land Use Policy 29:921–928Google Scholar
  10. Chandra M, Sathiavelu S (2009) Waste management in the olive oil industry in the Mediterranean region by composting. Clean Technol Environ Policy 11:293–298Google Scholar
  11. Chong C (2005) Experiences with wastes and composts in nursery substrates. HortTechnology 15:739–747Google Scholar
  12. Christoulaki Μ, Gouma S, Manios T, Τzortzakis N (2014) Deployment of sawdust as substrate medium in hydroponically grown lettuce. J Plant Nutr 37:1304–1315Google Scholar
  13. Chrysargyris A, Tzortzakis N (2015) Municipal solid wastes and mineral fertilizer as an eggplant transplant medium. J Soil Sci Plant Nutr 15:11–23Google Scholar
  14. Chrysargyris A, Xylia P, Botsaris G, Tzortzakis N (2017) Antioxidant and antibacterial activities, mineral and essential oil composition of spearmint (Mentha spicata L.) affected by the potassium levels. Ind Crops Prod 103:202–212Google Scholar
  15. Chrysargyris A, Antoniou O, Tzionis A, Prasad M, Tzortzakis N (2018) Alternative soilless media using olive-mill and paper waste for growing ornamental plants. Environ Sci Pollut Res Int. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Das RK, Brar SK, Verma M (2016) Potential use of pulp and paper solid waste for the bio-production of fumatic acid through submerged and solid state fermentation. J Clean Prod 112:4435–4444Google Scholar
  17. Davidson H, Mecklenburg R, Peterson C (2000) Nursery management, administration and culture, 4th edn. Prentice-Hall, Upper Saddles RiverGoogle Scholar
  18. de Azevedo ARG, Alexandre J, GdeC Xavier, Pedroti LG (2018) Recycling paper industry effluent sludge for use in mortars: a sustainability perspective. J Clean Prod 192:335–346Google Scholar
  19. European Committee for Standardization (1999) European standard EN 13041. Soil improvers and growing media: determination of physical properties—dry bulk density, air volume, water volume, shrinkage value and total pore space, Brussels, pp 10Google Scholar
  20. Evanylo GK, Lee Daniels W (1999) Paper mill sludge composting and compost utilization. Compost Sci Util 7:30–39Google Scholar
  21. Fascella G (2015) Growing substrates alternative to peat for ornamental plants. In: Asaduzzaman MD (ed) Soilless culture—use of substrates for the production of quality horticultural crops. InTech, Rijeka. ISBN 978-953-51-1739-1Google Scholar
  22. Feldkinchner D, Wang C, Gower S, Kruger E, Ferris J (2003) Effects of nutrient and paper mill biosolids amendment on growth and nutrient status of hardwood forest. For Ecol Manag 177:95–116Google Scholar
  23. Gruda N (2012) Current and future perspectives of growing media in Europe. Acta Hortic 960:37–43Google Scholar
  24. Havlin JL, Beaton JD, Tisdale SL, Werner LN (2005) Soil fertility and fertilizers. An introduction to nutrient management. Prentice Hall, Upper saddle RiverGoogle Scholar
  25. He J, Lange CR, Dougherty M (2009) Laboratory study using paper mill lime mud for agronomic benefit. Process Saf Environ Prot 87:401–405Google Scholar
  26. Holmes S (2009) Growing media developments in the UK. Acta Hortic 819:23–26Google Scholar
  27. Jaria G, Silva CP, Ferreira CIA, Otero M, Calisto V (2017) Sludge from paper mill effluent treatment as raw material to produce carbon adsorbents: an alternative waste management strategy. J Environ Manag 188:203–211Google Scholar
  28. Jayasinghe GY (2012) Sugarcane bagasses sewage sludge compost as a plant growth substrate and an option for waste management. Clean Technol Environ Policy 14:625–632Google Scholar
  29. Kern J, Tammeorg P, Shanskiy M, Sakrabani R, Knicker H, Kammann C, Tuhkanen E-M, Smidt G, Prasad M, Tiilikkala K, Sohi S, Gasco G, Steiner C, Glaser B (2017) Synergistic use of peat and charred material in growing media –an option to reduce the pressure of peatlands? J Environ Eng Landsc Manag 25:160–174Google Scholar
  30. Kiarostami Kh, Mohseni R, Saboora A (2010) Biochemical changes of Rosmarinus officinalis under salt stress. J Stress Physiol Biochem 6:114–122Google Scholar
  31. Klock KA (1997) Growth of salt sensitive bedding plants in media amended with composted urban waste. Compost Sci Util 5:55–59Google Scholar
  32. Kumar PR, Jayaram A, Somashekar RK (2009) Assessment of the performance of different compost models to manage urban household organic solid wastes. Clean Technol Environ Policy 11(4):473–484Google Scholar
  33. Lazzerini G, Lucchetti S, Nicese FP (2016) Green House Gases (GHG) emissions from the ornamental plant nursery industry: a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) approach in a nursery district in central Italy. J Clean Prod 112:4022–4030Google Scholar
  34. Marinou E, Chrysargyris A, Tzortzakis N (2013) Use of sawdust, coco soil and pumice in hydroponically grown strawberry. Plant Soil Environ 59:452–459Google Scholar
  35. Mohammadi Torkashvand A, Haghighat N, Shadparvar V (2010) Effect of paper mill lime sludge as an acid soil amendment. Sci Res Essays 5(11):1302–1306Google Scholar
  36. Pasternak T, Rudas V, Potters G, Jansen MAK (2005) Morphogenic effects of abiotic stress: reorientation of growth in Arabidopsis thaliana seedlings. Environ Exp Bot 53:299–314Google Scholar
  37. Popescu GC, Popescu M (2015) Effects of different potting growing media for Petunia grandiflora and Nicotiana alata Link & Otto on photosynthetic capacity, leaf area, and flowering potential. Chil J Agric Res 75:21–26Google Scholar
  38. Prasad M, Tzortzakis N, McDaniel N (2018) Chemical characterization of biochar and assessment of the nutrient dynamics by means of preliminary plant growth tests. J Environ Manag 216:89–95Google Scholar
  39. Rashid MT, Barry D, Goss M (2006) Paper mill biosolids application to agricultural lands: benefits and environmental concerns with special reference to situation in Canada. Soil Environ 25(2):85–98Google Scholar
  40. Scherer R, Lemos MF, Lemos MF, Martinelli GC, Martins JDL, da Silva AG (2013) Antioxidant and antibacterial activities and composition of Brazilian spearmint (Mentha spicata L.). Ind Crops Prod 50:408–413Google Scholar
  41. Thant MM, Charmondusit K (2010) Eco-efficiency assessment of pulp and paper industry in Myanmar. Clean Technol Environ Policy 12:427–439Google Scholar
  42. Tucker P, Douglas P (2006) Composted paper mill waste as a peat substitute. Newspaper Industry Environmental Technology Initiative. University of Paisley. Report.
  43. Tucker P, Polson J, Douglas P (2004) Mass balance of UK newspapers. University of Paisley, PaisleyGoogle Scholar
  44. Vieira CMF, Pinheiro RM, Rodriguez RJS, Candido VS, Monteiro SN (2016) Clay bricks added with effluent sludge from paper industry. Technical, economical and environmental benefits. Appl Clay Sci 132–133:753–759Google Scholar
  45. WRAP (2002) Research analysis of the market potential for lower grade composted materials in the UK. Wrap, BanburyGoogle Scholar
  46. Yilmaz M, Gumuskaya T (2015) Recycling costs: a research in the waste paper industry. Eur J Acc Aud Fin Res 3(4):58–68Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Agricultural Science, Biotechnology and Food Science, Faculty of Geotechnical Sciences and Environmental ManagementCyprus University of TechnologyLimassolCyprus
  2. 2.School of Chemical EngineeringNational Technical University of AthensAthensGreece

Personalised recommendations