Garden centre chain Wyevale will stop selling a raft of environmentally unfriendly but lucrative products, including gas-powered outdoor patio heaters, it announced today.

The group said it would not stock "eco-unfriendly" heaters and would phase out at least 90% of its peat and peat-based growing products within the next three years as part of a new green agenda for its 108 stores.

Gas and electric powered patio heaters alone are worth more than £250,000 a year in turnover for the group. Wyevale is understood to be the only major garden-equipment retailer in the UK to make the move, timed just before the Easter weekend - the start of the traditional season for selling garden products.

Wyevale has committed to becoming carbon neutral by 2010 and is reviewing its entire product range to ensure that its carbon footprint is reduced. Friends of the Earth backed the initiative and called on other stores to follow its lead and call time on items such as gas and electric powered heaters.

At up to £200 or £300 each, gas-powered heaters can be big business for retailers, especially in recent years as part of a trend for more outdoor living and "al fresco" dining. But they are extremely energy inefficient. Using a patio heater for one hour can waste enough energy to make 400 cups of tea, according to Friends of the Earth.

Wyevale hopes that it will be able to encourage customers to turn instead to outdoor heaters that do not use unsustainable energy sources, such as using recyclable-wood burning stoves. It is also setting suppliers the challenge of designing zero carbon forms of outdoor heating.

Today's announcements from the group, which was bought by private equity firm West Coast Capital for £323 million last year, follow a review of the business by sustainability adviser Dr Alan Knight.

Other firms have made similar eco-friendly commitments in recent weeks, including electrical store Currys, which last month pledged to stop selling high-energy incandescent light bulbs.


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