Column: Change for the better
Fred van Tol, manager international development at Royal FloraHolland discusses the industry

Looking back at 2019, we can conclude that the weather has had a significant influence on the floriculture sector. Several production areas had to deal with extreme weather conditions. There were substantial differences between the regions. Unusual wet conditions in the second half of the year in Kenya after scorching summer weather in the European Union. Cold and wet climates in Colombia, but a blistering hot and dry spell in Australia – with the big forest fires as a sad consequence.

The impact of this was, of course, high, especially for the local population who had to deal with the unpredictable results. Other countries felt the effect of unstable weather; and, although opinions about the causes differ, our climate is changing.

Climate change affects us all; it’s good to see our sector seriously addressing issues of sustainability more and more every year. Individual growers around the world are taking initiatives that have a positive impact on the environment. For example, replacing plastic packaging material with recycled articles or using pots based on natural materials for plants. And we must continue to improve in this way. It is our responsibility towards the environment that we all use to grow our beautiful products.

I don’t think we can go fast enough. When I am travelling, and I see the amount of plastic next to the roads, it makes me sad. We still have a long way to go. When I see the videos showing a ‘plastic soup’ in our oceans, I realise that significant efforts are needed to make our planet clean and habitable for future generations. More and more multinationals are taking this responsibility and ensuring that the use of plastic decreases in, for example, the packaging of food, such as fruit and vegetables. With more ecological protection regulation by governments, this will go faster. It is nice to see that Kenya is setting an example by no longer allowing the use of plastic bags. And more and more countries are considering charging a deposit on plastic bottles.

That way, I’m proud of our industry. We don’t wait for more regulation, but we take initiatives ourselves. It’s something that suits us. With our flowers and plants, we bring joy and happiness into people’s lives. But above all, we bring in a part of nature. Many people never get the chance to visit the most beautiful natural areas in our world. But with some of the best gifts, nature has brought us, ornamentals can help you see, feel and smell it at home.

At Royal FloraHolland we joined the Plastics Pact NL in 2019. Our ambition is to use 20 per cent less material for single-use transport packaging or to reduce its use by 2025. We will also ensure that at least 35 per cent of our new trays are made of recycled plastic in that year and that 70 per cent of the trays come back through recycling.

Also, we want our products to be 100 per cent recyclable. We have already achieved two of these targets with 100 per cent recyclable material trays and new single-use trays containing 90 per cent recycled plastic. Of all our single-use trays, 50 per cent are recycled. Together with our growers, we contribute to a world with less plastic. How will you join us?