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Can we Ditch Poly Ribbon?

Waterproof and cheap, poly ribbon is ubiquitous in floristry. Made from polypropylene (PP) it begins life as small plastic pellets which are melted down and extruded as ribbon. Currently only about 1% of polypropylene products are recycled, the rest end up in landfill and can take between 20 and 30 years to decompose.

With many more suitable alternatives the majority of florists have now stopped using poly ribbon in gift work, but it’s still found in funeral designs, where it’s used almost exclusively for edging tributes.

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Why use Poly Ribbon?

For practical and design reasons – practical as it protects the flowers along the edges of a tribute from being damaged as it is handled - and it can also make name tributes easier to read. As part of a specific design, such as a football badge for example, it comes in very handy as you can pick the specific colours you need to represent the team.

Can we Manage Without it?

Theoretically yes, Interflora’s funeral design range has done away with poly ribbon altogether, where ribbon is required, such as on a tied sheaf, natural raffia, a sustainable, eco-friendly product has been used instead.

On the Shop Floor

As it is mainly based items that use poly, to reduce its use, steer customers in the direction of loose or grouped tributes instead. This also makes more economic sense for the florist as the cost of white double chrysanthemum continues to rise. If it has to be based then suggest foliage edging as a more natural alternative. Make poly ribbon your last resort!

The Alternatives

Hessian and Jute

Hessian, made from jute or sisal fibres is a natural product that will biodegrade over time, avoid if possible wired or printed hessian. Available in a limited range of colours it is stiffer than poly ribbon so won’t crush but is more difficult to pleat and attach.


There is plenty of foliage which is ideal for edging, aim for a combination of different textures and shapes such as asparagus fern, leatherleaf and pittosporum. Get into the habit of saving all your foliage off-cuts and bits, no matter how small, to reuse in your funeral work.

It is likely that floristry will not see the back of poly ribbon completely until legislation is brought in banning its use. In the meantime, each one of us can work to reduce its impact, one tribute at a time.

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Su Whale is a florist and freelance writer with over twenty-five years' experience in the floristry industry. She is the author and publisher of three best-selling books: Cut Flowers, 4th edition (2020) Cut Foliage, 2nd Edition, (2021) and Houseplants (2019), all bookshelf essentials for the professional florist.




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