The demand of consumers and retailers for sustainably produced horticultural products is increasing. Life cycle assessment, or environmental footprint analysis, is a widely acknowledged methodology to assess, benchmark, and monitor the environmental impact. Therefore, both supply chain partners as well as the market are increasingly asking for footprint calculations of horticultural products.
Why a new method?
There is no standard methodology in the horticultural sector yet. Calculation tools exist, but as these are based on out-dated or non-standardized methodologies, they cannot be used for benchmarking. Therefore, there is a need for a widely supported method that enables clear communication about a horticultural product’s environmental footprint.
In recent years, a large number of organisations, together with the European Commission, have gained experience with developing a European standard for the environmental footprint of specific product categories, such as paints, detergents, leather, dairy, pasta, beer, etc. (a total of 24 product categories). These experiences have also resulted in specific guidance for developing product category specific methodologies.
Therefore, Royal FloraHolland, GroentenFruit Huis and Wageningen Economic Research have initiated a project to align with the European developments, with involvement of prominent parties in the field, and co-funding from the Dutch Ministry of Agriculture through the Topsector Tuinbouw & Uitgangsmaterialen (organization for Public Private Partnerships in the horticultural sector).
The aim of the collaboration is the creation of a uniform standard for the environmental footprint of horticultural products, accepted by the chain partners. The project partners strive for international acceptance of the methodology. Multiple important themes will be addressed, such as climate change, toxicity, water scarcity, land use, etc. Alignment within the sector is necessary to provide complete and consistent answers to questions from the government and retailers.