“The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. The second best time is right now”
We all want an IDEAL world for ourselves and our beloved. Everybody has his own dreams, like relaxing on a tropical island, building and managing a huge enterprise, becoming the new Max Verstappen, the talented Dutch Formula 1 racer, writing a bestseller novel, scoring a hit with your own song, etc.
Realization of our dreams impacts our environment in many different ways. For example…. According to data from a sustainability organization (Milieu Centraal), the average Dutchman who goes on holiday to Bali for two weeks including hotel emits no less than 4,000 kilos of CO2. By way of comparison, an entire household emits about 23,000 kilos of CO2 per year on average.
That also counts for running a company. The whole chain from production to the delivery of goods to the final client is involved. Energy, raw materials, space, labour, most of these sources are scarce and we have to put more and more efforts to obtain these from all around the globe. That appeals for careful and thoughtful use of these sources.
In the Climate treaty of Paris 2015 it was agreed by 174 countries to limit the emissions of greenhouse gasses and global warming to maximum 1,5 degrees Celsius as compared to pre-industrial times. Whether global warming is caused by human action or not, these environmental targets are there to keep the world for future generations. And that asks for efforts and sacrifices from us all.
We can all support to a more sustainable world.
But what is sustainability
In short… “Our Common future”
Or “Sustainability means meeting the needs of the present, without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. In addition to natural resources, we also need social and economic resources.” Individuals, organizations and governments are all prioritizing sustainability more and more as an essential aspect of their corporate or social policy. Therefore, increasingly, businesses have to make strategic decisions around their sustainability policies. It is no longer nice to have, but it has become a must-have.
Sustainability includes organizing in such a way that we consume less, re-use more and use renewable raw materials. Examples of this are the use of wind and solar energy, second-hand stores and, closer to home, re-use of culture pots. Or using something for a longer period by repairing, instead of throwing it away.
An example of what we do at Nieuwkoop Europe is Water management. This is an example in which we reduce, re-use ánd recycle.
We have already used many possibilities to obtain and use sustainable water for the production of our plants. Rainwater is captured in basins of 11,000 m3, which supplies our entire water requirements. The size of the basins ensures that no water is discharged into the surface water. We use the captured rainwater for the production, as do many other companies in our sector. All the water, with the exception of drinking water, is regenerated, purified and filtered in a closed system, and then it goes to underground basins. The water is also used to wash the roots of soil-based plants before they are transferred to hydroculture. And it is used for our irrigation and hydroculture system.
An added advantage of the use of our closed system is that the nutrients in the water that are not absorbed by the plants are reused. Prior to watering, we measure the amount of nutrients still in the water. This is then supplemented with nutrients or clean water until the desired amount of nutrients (EC) has been reached.
Another thing is that in the near future, we are going to place 1000 up to 2000 solar panels on our roof to provide energy. That equals … kW, or about the energy consumption of … households. And we are also defining a process to collect used culture pots so they can be re-used and/or recycled.
Probably everybody in this room is familiar with this kind of examples and, within the own environment, acting on it. But, we think it’s important to take it a step further and organize it circular. Or to put it in another way, push a circular economy. Unlike the linear model of business that consumes and wastes resources, the idea behind Circular Economy is to have a system that wastes nothing. Everything has a purpose and an after-life-purpose, so that “traditional waste” can be something useful to others or in another form.
Organizing this involves agreements between all parties in the chain. It should not only be tried within one company to deal with 'stuff' as sustainably if possible. It applies to the entire chain and that agreements and understanding must therefore be made between companies.
So how should that work and why is it so important for all of us present ? All actors in the supply chain leave their own footprint and have an impact on the sustainability of the ‘end-product’. Instead of partial interest, we should have a common interest.
We - also in our line of business – are all part of a supply chain in which the actions of one party impact other parties. This supply chain consists of suppliers of raw materials (used for planters and the seeds to grow plants), interior decorators, transport companies, the end customer who enjoys a space full of nicely decorated greenery, but also the company that disposes waste. On its own every party is indispensable, though, but the rest is just as important.
We are being asked to create long-term practices that continuously do more to respect the environment, the well-being of employees and the prospects of future generations. Meanwhile, we are also expected to improve profitability and increase market share for our current stakeholders.
Don’t you think, that balance can be found if we work together on this?
We would very much like to hear what your ambition on sustainability is. Therefor we would like to take the opportunity to start a dialogue and set some ambitious goals with you and other actors in our own supply chain. So we can together inspire others within the industry to think more consciously about their contribution to sustainability.
Our first inspiration session will take place during our Relation days in November. If you would like to join, please let me know afterwards, or email our marketing department.
Let’s do it together!
Sustainability is a Supply Chain Challenge by Jan-Pieter Melis from Nieuwkoop
a supply chain
Sustainability is a supply