Only sustainable floriculture is future-proof23 October 2019
Sustainability is one of the spearheads of Royal FloraHolland. As it should be with an internationally operating company, the ambitions also extend across national borders. We discussed this with CEO Steven van Schilfgaarde.
Sustainability is a very broad concept. The United Nations has formulated no less than seventeen sustainable development goals (SDGs). "The SDGs together form the international sustainable agenda for 2030. In our sector, sustainability is about energy, CO2 emissions, water, crop protection, packaging, healthy growth and working conditions. The six goals that relate to this can only be achieved in close collaboration with other parties. "
"SDG 17 is therefore about cooperation. For example, I recently signed the IMVO floriculture agreement, as did the Ministers Schouten (Agriculture) and Kaag (Development Cooperation). In the context of that agreement, we are working together with large trading companies, interest groups from the floriculture industry and parties such as FNV and Hivos. "
Decent work and economic growth
"As a first step, we identify where there are potential risks to man and the environment in international chains. This step is important because the perception that people have of the floriculture sector in, for example, Africa and South America is not always based on facts. The cooperation can also shed another light on production in Africa, which on the one hand is accompanied by CO2 emissions for transport, but on the other hand is making a huge contribution to SDG 8, because it is about 'Decent work and economic growth'. The large growers in Africa are taking care of their employees for example:
That aspect is often ignored."
"Many growers are taking steps in the area of sustainability because they find that very important. It sometimes requires substantial investments, for example to switch from gas to geothermal energy or to purchase a water treatment plant. Sustainable crop protection is becoming the norm. It is important that the trade is willing to reward the efforts of growers by also purchasing sustainably. It is crucial here is that we ensure transparency on our marketplace about how the flowers and plants are produced. That is also becoming increasingly relevant towards the consumer."
"With plants, there is the Plant Passport, but it is not possible to attach a label to every stem. That is why all growers will ultimately have to be certified. Then the customer is assured that all flowers and plants traded via the marketplace have been grown in a sustainable way. And then the florist can make a bouquet that, regardless of the composition, can get the sustainable label; at least if the flowers have been purchased through Royal FloraHolland. The discussions with our members about this were sometimes lively, but there is large support. Everyone is aware that sustainability determines our future."
"Flowers have been transported for many years and stored in packaging that is reused many times. You see the buckets everywhere in Europe and these buckets keep coming back to the Netherlands. The successful return system serves as an example for the transport of plants. The disposable trays are still now often the norm for growers and traders. Our aim is to encourage the use of multi-use trays and in the meantime to ensure that the disposable trays are recycled more often. We are therefore participating in the Plastic Pact. We are also committed to reducing the use of plastic. That is why 90% of our plant trays are made from recycled plastic. Incidentally, just like our flower packaging. Discarded packaging is put to use as new packaging. That too is part of sustainable business."
Sustainable where possible
"As the world's largest marketplace, we use a lot of energy and other products, such as packaging materials and water. Our policy is aimed at sustainable business where possible. The new building in Aalsmeer has been designed on the basis of that policy, the roofs of our locations are being equipped with solar panels and from 2020 on we will be purchasing sustainably generated electricity. "
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