Driven by sustainability

 

Driven by sustainability

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MPS-ABC, MPS-GAP and MPS-SQ for Guatemalan grower
Three MPS certificates in a row: a fantastic achievement that Ter Laak Americas can proudly share with its customers. At the end of June, the orchid nursery in Jalapa, Guatemala was the first company of its kind in Central and South America to receive not only the MPS-ABC certificate, but also the MPS-GAP and MPS-SQ certificates. Obtaining all these certificates is a significant challenge for growers in this region. Pedro Luna, manager of Ter Laak Americas, is very proud of the result. “We strongly believe that sustainability is the future for us all.”

Ter Laak Americas was established in 2015, when three partners joined forces to start a one-hectare orchid nursery to grow flowering plants for the local market and young plants for the export market. One of the partners is Ter Laak Orchids, a Dutch company that already holds MPS-ABC, MPS-GAP and MPS-SQ certificates and participates in the MPS-ProductProof scheme. Luna: “That helped us to meet the criteria, since we were already doing many of the things that the scheme requires.” The MPS-GAP certificate covers traceability, sustainability, safety and hygiene, while MPS-SQ focuses on proper working conditions.
Profitable and sustainable
The greenhouse in Jalapa features innovations such as three-layered plastic walls that reduce energy consumption, organic waste composting, energy and shadow-generating screens and rainwater collection. “Our strategy is to be both profitable and sustainable, while providing our employees with the pleasant working environment they deserve,” says Luna. Local employees are the driving force behind the company. “We have 25 permanent employees, and we provide them with meals during the breaks. Any leftovers are fed to the pigs and sheep.”

Sustainable enterprise is becoming increasingly important in Central and South America. Arthij van de Veer, MPS coordinator in North and Central America explains: “This is due to growing awareness among both entrepreneurs and their customers. Customers are making more demands with respect to sustainability, so growers are responding by exploring the possibilities. It’s a gradual process, but if you compare today’s situation with how things were a decade ago, you can see a definite increase in awareness.”

Respect for the environment and human rights
Luna is extremely proud of the three MPS certificates. “We can now demonstrate to our customers that our orchids are a product of sustainable cultivation practices, and that we respect human rights. We hope to inspire other growers to increase the sustainability of their enterprises too.” What’s more, Luna concludes: “Certification helps you to monitor your production processes. The more data you gather, the greater your understanding will be, and the better you’ll be able to perform as a company.”
For more information, please contact:
Arthij van de Veer, General Coordinator for North & Central America
T +55 85 88 72 24 24/+1 805 813 0582
E a.vd.veer@my-mps.com
MPS and FSI2020 organize meetings in Central America
 
MPS organizes two meetings in Central America, in collaboration with FSI2020. The central topic of these meetings is how current market developments influence management.
The following topics will also be discussed:
  • the vision of Dutch Flower Group and Koppert Biological Systems on sustainability and developments within FSI;
  • update on the project ‘Chain Transparency’ (more about this in the next MPS-Newsflash as well);
  • traceability throughout the whole chain;
  • how consumer's demands influence the production chain;
  • deployment of IPM (Integrated Pest Management).
If you operate in Central America and are interested in attending one of these meetings, then please contact:
Remco Jansen, Commercial Manager
T +31 (0) 6 51 27 40 01
E r.jansen@my-mps.com
Transforming local green waste into sustainable energy for growers

Local green waste that would otherwise leave the province is being converted into sustainable energy in a biomass plant by three MPS-ECAS certified growers. ‘With the biomass plant, we’re reducing gas consumption and CO2 emissions and using sustainable CO2 to let the plants grow better,’ explains Pleun van Duijn, an aubergine grower and one of the project initiators.

The three growers – VOF Prominent Grevelingen (tomatoes), DT van Noord Tomaten B.V. (tomatoes) and Gebr. van Duijn (aubergines) – have united to form DES, which stands for Duurzaam Energie Sirjansland (Sustainable Energy Sirjansland). The companies have acquired  various certificates from MPS-ECAS, including GLOBALG.A.P. and On the way to PlanetProof. These certification schemes let organisations consider how to make their production process more sustainable.  
Aubergine grower Pleun van Duijn at the CO2 capture installation
100 tonnes of green waste
‘We started the plant with the aim of making our businesses more sustainable,’ explains Van Duijn. The three businesses began working together on sustainability issues a few years ago and have given consideration to a variety of different ideas. ‘We looked into using geothermal heat to generate energy, but the layers of the earth here aren’t porous enough for that. Biogas wasn’t an attractive option either, due to the fermentation of manure.’ When the vegetable growers attended a meeting organised by the municipality of Schouwen-Duiveland to examine how to make the island energy-neutral, they came into contact with foresters, campsite owners and other businesses that produce green and wood waste, and the idea to start a biomass plant was born. This would transform local green waste into sustainable energy for their greenhouses.

Wood chips are used as the basic material for heating the greenhouses and for producing the CO2 that the plants need to grow. In total the plant delivers 8 megawatts of heat, which is used to provide heating for 70% of the greenhouses. Producing that heat requires a substantial volume of wood chips, which are delivered daily by three trucks in the form of 100 tonnes of green waste. What remains after the wood chips are burnt is a pile of ashes. The aubergine grower would preferably use those ashes too, but notes that ‘farmers used to spread ashes on the soil, but aren’t allowed to do that anymore. We have taken samples though, so that we can investigate whether we can reuse the ashes.’
Storage shed containing wood chips and automatic crane system
Biomass plant with two CO2 spheres and heat buffers
Sustainable innovation
The smoke produced by the biomass plant is not dispersed into the air via a chimney, but is instead filtered and stored in two enormous spheres. Clean CO2 is then piped into the greenhouses, where it is mixed with air and encourages the growth of the plants. The project received a sustainable business grant to fund this innovation. ‘Each year the plant delivers a 12 million kg reduction in CO2 emissions from fossil fuels and saves 7 million m3 of gas,’ says Van Duijn. The project has cost around 9 million euros. ‘If everything goes to plan, we’ll recoup the cost of the system in 12 years.’

Further sustainability plans
Now that their biomass plant is up and running, the three growers are working on further sustainability plans. ‘The biomass plant needs energy, for instance to power its pumps. We’re going to generate this energy using solar panels. By the end of the year the roof of the plant room will be completely covered with 760 solar panels,’ the aubergine grower explains. In this way the three growers are completing the circle. ‘We’ve delivered something wonderful. All the local biomass is now being used to generate energy and heat our greenhouses.’ 
 
Sustainability central topic of Plantarium 2019
 
MPS was present again last week during the fair Plantarium, from 21-23 August 2019 in Boskoop. 'Green Fits All' was the slogan everything was centred around at this time.
 

Plantarium is the leading international tree nursery trade fair. Participants from 15 different countries and trade visitors from 48 countries underline the international nature of the fair and make Plantarium the leading wholesale market for tree nursery products in Europe.

MPS was present at Plantarium with a renewed fair stand to talk to growers about the latest developments in sustainability, innovative tools and certification in this field. Jasper van Diemen, coordinator the Netherlands MPS: “We notice that sustainability is a topical issue within this sector. Certification is looked at more and more as a tool and not as a goal to produce more sustainably and to lift business processes. to a higher level. We also notice a growing interest in our services from the tree nursery sector”. 

Would you like to know more about certification, then please contact:
Jasper van Diemen, Commercial Coordinator the Netherlands
T +31 (0) 6 30 15 91 66
E j.van.diemen@my-mps.com
Jasper van Diemen (MPS) during Plantarium
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Check out our vacancies here and follow us on LinkedIn!

If you have any questions, please contact the MPS Service & Support team in the Netherlands:

T +31 (0)174 61 57 15
E info@my-mps.com

This newsletter is carefully composed by MPS.
MPS does not take any responsibility for the accuracy or reliability of the information in this newsletter.

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MPS signs statement of support for ICSR agreement
Yolande van den Boom (CEO MPS-Group)
Last week, the World Horti Center in Naaldwijk signed the International Corporate Social Responsibility (ICSR) Agreement for the flowers and ornamentals sector. The objective is to promote more responsible international production and trade in ornamental plants. CEO of the MPS Group, Yolande van den Boom, signed the statement of support on behalf of MPS. 

In the first year, projects will be launched to support the living wage and the impact of crop protection agents on people and the environment. The scope of the agreement covers the chains for the breeding and the production of flower bulbs, plant propagating materials, cut flowers, ornamental greenery, trees and pot and bedding plants. The Netherlands is an important hub in the international flowers and ornamentals trade. Our small country exports flowers and plants to the value of 6 billion euros worldwide and imports more than 600 million euros worth of products from Africa and more than 100 million from South America. Kenya, Ethiopia, Ecuador and Colombia are all important countries for imports. Around 600 Dutch trading companies operate internationally. The agreement was established after intensive consultations under the leadership of the Dutch Social and Economic Council. It builds on the existing Floriculture Sustainability Initiative (FSI), a sector initiative.

Yolande van den Boom: ‘For many years, MPS has been actively trying to reduce the environmental impact that the flowers and ornamentals sector has, to make the global flowers and ornamentals sector more transparent and ultimately to make the entire sector more sustainable. In addition, MPS offers trade and social certifications. Apart from intensive collaboration with FSI, we are glad we have this opportunity to express our support for this sector-wide agreement. The demand for sustainable flowers and ornamentals products with reliable product information is growing; we can only achieve this through a sector-wide approach!’
  
The ICSR Agreement for the flowers and ornamentals sector has been signed by: The minister of Agriculture Nature and Food Quality – minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation – AFRI FLORA – Albert Heijn – Dümmen Orange – the Dutch Flower Group – Fleura Metz – Floratradeconsult – Royal Lemkes – Waterdrinker – HIVOS – FNV – Royal FloraHolland – Greenhouse Horticulture Netherlands – the Dutch Gardening Sector – the Association of Wholesalers in Flower Nursery Products.

Those expressing their support include:
Chrysal – Koppert – Max Havelaar –  MPS – the Dutch Foundation for Nature Conservation and Environmental Protection
Change in points allocation for the use of agents
 
The MPS-MIND methodology classifies all crop protection agents on the basis of the environmental impact they cause. Agents that have a high environmental impact are categorised as ‘red’, agents with the relatively lowest environmental impact as ‘green’, and agents in the middle of the spectrum are labelled ‘orange’. 

Standards for the use of these agents are set for each category. Given the greater environmental impact that red and orange agents have, less of these agents may be used compared to green agents. In practice we have seen a decrease in the use of red and orange agents in recent years, and an increase in the use of green agents. As a result, a group of participants has exceeded the upper limit for the use of green agents, creating a negative score for this component. 
To get a good MPS score, growers must use less green and more orange and/or red agents. This feels as though it is going against all the principles. To take this into account, MPS has decided to do away with the negative points for using green agents.
 
This measure influences the score and the qualification of a small percentage of MPS-ABC participants. These participants will see the difference in the number of points obtained, starting with the qualification for Period 7.
 
It is important to mention that this is a temporary measure. Improving the current MIND methodology, to make it more future proof, is high on the MPS agenda. This could lead to participants who now have an advantage because of this change seeing their points for comparable consumption falling in the future.

For more information, please contact Martine Holtkamp at m.holtkamp@my-mps.com
MPS-ABC qualification as a new participant
 
MPS is regularly asked whether new participants start at MPS-C level. This is not the case. The MPS-ABC qualification is calculated based on the use of agents during the previous year. To be granted a qualification, the participant has to register its use over an entire year. In addition, the participant has to successfully complete the initial audit. The participant is registered as ‘Non Qualified’ between the time its joins MPS-ABC and obtaining a qualification. After completing the initial audit, the participant is awarded a C, B, A or A+ qualification based on its usage data.

So it is not true that new participants start at MPS-C level!
MPS has now passed the 50 countries milestone
 
MPS has a global presence. There are now MPS-ABC participants in 51 countries. Our latest MPS-ABC participants are located in: Algeria, Lithuania, South Africa and Suriname!
Company focus: Newday Farms Turkey
Since it was founded in 2018, Newday Farms, a Turkish company, has already planted 520 trees in exchange for selling carnations. Production and profit are not their only and most important goals; sustainability, rights for employees and traceability are given just as much priority. Their MPS-A score is an important factor in this. Seval Öz, founder and co-owner of Newday Farms: ‘For us, MPS-ABC is the basis of sustainable production from the seedling through to the packaging of the product.’

MPS-A score as ‘green’
After successively recording thirteen consecutive periods, Newday Farms was immediately classified as MPS-A. ‘From the get-go, sustainability was at the top of the list and we aimed to minimise the use of fertilisers and pesticides,’ the owner tells us. ‘Using the MPS-ABC system, we have been able to examine and analyse our use of pesticides and fertilisers. This has had a major, positive impact on our use and selection of certain agents.’ 

‘As a company we also feel our social responsibility and so we contribute to social projects. We work with environmental organisations and NGOs, and we plant forty to fifty trees every month in exchange for the number of flowers we sell,’ Öz explains. Customers are regularly sent an update of the number of trees planted. Öz: ‘We send customers certificates of the trees we have planted with their names on them. This is how we hope to invest in a sustainable future in this way.’
Turning point
Through MPS-ABC membership, sustainability as an ideal is not kept secret: an MPS-A score is international proof that our participants’ production is sustainable. ‘Sustainable production is important to our buyers, and often it is also a condition for delivery,’ Öz points out. What’s more, the processes in the company have become a lot more efficient thanks to MPS-ABC, which means they have better control over costs. ‘We have been able to analyse the production process better. I personally learned a lot from MPS-ABC; my management skills have improved a great deal. The certificate was the turning point for me to organise my work more efficiently.’

Of course the company still makes mistakes, but not many. ‘What helped was the way MPS explained the philosophy and purpose behind MPS-ABC. And thanks to this, we don’t make many mistakes. MPS also takes domestic regulations into account and we are given advice so that we can continue to grow as far as sustainability is concerned.’

Should you have any questions, please contact Raymond Scheepens: r.scheepens@my-mps.com
Seval Öz

If you have any questions, please contact the MPS Service & Support team in The Netherlands at:
T. +31 174 615700
E. info@my-mps.com

This newsletter is given in good faith by MPS.
MPS cannot assume any responsibility for the accuracy or reliability of the information contained in these newsletter.

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MPS innovates, motivates, facilitates and makes sustainability more transparent and measurable