When it comes to sustainability in agriculture and horticulture, the name of Koppert Cress is never far away. The Westland company specializes in cresses: micro-vegetables with a unique taste experience. In 2002 the company was taken over by Rob Baan. He radically changed course. Sustainability and marketing became the spearheads. And with success. The company grew at lightning speed into an internationally renowned partner for chefs, caterers, hotels and restaurants all over the world. Koppert Cress is constantly looking for improvement, both in the product range and in the field of sustainability. To be able to optimize the latter pillar even more, Koppert Cress asked Greenhouse Sustainability to calculate the footprint of the entire company. And the results of those calculations were surprising.
Tara Vester and Stijn Baan, two of the more than 200 Koppert Cress employees, sit relaxed at the long conference table. The entire wall behind them is taken up by an overview of the seventeen Sustainable Development Goals. Everything here breathes sustainability. “Koppert Cress wants to be an example for other companies in agriculture and horticulture,” explains Stijn. “Everyone is always welcome to come and have a look. And that happens too. We regularly have guided tours, when sector members come to take a look, for example in our sustainable greenhouse. Although our greenhouse may not be that impressive in terms of surface area, we do try to apply the most innovative technologies in the field of sustainability.”
Stijn Baan"We always experiment with our partners and suppliers. It’s important to offer that opportunity for that and take risks together."
As a precursor the company naturally wants to continue to innovate. What follows after a sustainable greenhouse? “We considered allowing our trucks to run entirely on (green) electricity,” says Tara. “But then we realized that we actually didn’t know at all what the impact of the switch would be. Is that the best way for Koppert Cress to be even more sustainable? Or should we aim our arrows elsewhere? At that time, we started making our footprint calculation in collaboration with Greenhouse Sustainability. That was quite a challenge, because we did not yet have a central location in the company where all the data needed for the calculation was available.”
What has more impact: transport or packaging?
Tara got her teeth into the project and started collecting data, with which Greenhouse Sustainability mapped out the footprint (LCA). Because she had to collect data throughout the company, this immediately ensured that sustainability became even more alive internally. “We were suddenly forced to look critically at all our products and processes. And that led to surprising results. We now know that our packaging has a much greater impact than other parts of the company. And so we will start with that first. ”Koppert Cress had previously tested with compostable packaging, but it soon turned out that this is not much more sustainable than plastic. “This made us realize that the most sustainable choice is not always obvious, and that if we really want to bring about change, we have to learn to count in a different way.”
Sustainability can only be achieved by working together
Becoming fully sustainable on your own is not possible. Koppert Cress is dependent on others in the chain. “We really want to make steps together with the other companies in the chain. Of course you cannot expect that all our suppliers will be 100% sustainable overnight. But you do want to collaborate with parties that, just like us, really want to take steps and are serious about it."
The fact that sustainability is in Koppert Cress’s DNA is not only reflected in the way the company and processes are organized. It is not only about how products are being made, it is also about what you make. And there Koppert Cress has a special mission:
"We want to show how cool it is to eat plants.”
Healthy diet is paramount at Koppert Cress. The company restaurant, where every day a healthy lunch based on at least 80% vegetables is served to all employees, is a striking example of this. Because: if you buy safety shoes for your employees to protect their feet, why not also provide healthy food to protect the intestines?
Want to know more about sustainable micro vegetables? Take a look at the website van Koppert Cress website. Do you also work in agri- or horticulture and would you like to get started with a footprint calculation to know where you can really make an impact? Please contact the footprint specialists at Greenhouse Sustainability.