Royal Lemkes: 'Increasing demand from retail for insight into product footprints'

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A few years ago, Royal Lemkes took the lead in enhancing sustainability within the horticultural sector. The plant supplier aims to make its products climate positive by 2030. To achieve this goal, we have been collaborating with Greenhouse Sustainability for an extended period. Sustainability Manager Elise Wieringa and Sustainability Coordinator Joëlle Schneider are delighted that an increasing number of parties are now embracing the idea of providing transparency about their environmental impact.

Sustainability is the DNA of Royal Lemkes. The family-run business in Bleiswijk has one of the largest solar panel roofs in the Netherlands. It has reduced its carbon footprint by installing LED lamps and heat pumps, while also storing electricity to supply the grid during peak demand. Furthermore, the company has been dedicated to significantly decreasing the number of transport movements. These are a few examples of the sustainable initiatives the trading company has implemented thus far. “Sustainability is integrated in our business operations,” states Elise Wieringa. “We believe it's our duty to our children, grandchildren, and the world around us to make these efforts. This is why our commitment not only extends to make our own organization more sustainable but also the entire chain. This represents the green heart of Royal Lemkes, for which we have started to introduce more and more structure within the organization.”

Paving the way for further progress

Royal Lemkes wanted to set a good example at an early stage, says Wieringa. “As early as 2016, in collaboration with Benefits of Nature, the precursor of the current Greenhouse Sustainability, we initiated footprint calculations. At that time, footprinting was still in its infancy. Over the years, we learned a great deal from one another about data collection and calculating environmental impact. We also studied other sectors, like construction. Eventually, this led to the creation of the Flori Footprint Tool, featuring portals for growers and traders. This tool, developed in partnership with SimaPro, simplifies the process.

"We're thrilled that more trading companies are using this tool. It’s getting easier to further develop the tool together in the coming years.”

— Elise Wieringa, Sustainability Manager

According to Joëlle Schneider, collaboration is essential to implement improvements throughout the sector. “The desire for insight and the demand for footprint calculations are growing across all links in the chain. Not everyone is at the same stage, but it's heartening to witness more parties taking their initial sustainable steps. Thanks to the experience and knowledge acquired by us and other pioneers in recent years, joining these efforts has become more accessible for newcomers. By closely cooperating with our suppliers and customers, we aim to assist them in emission reduction. Our approach involves sharing knowledge and providing insight into our own accomplishments rather than dictating how things should be done.”

“You see the increasing need for insight and the demand for footprint calculations in the chain.”

— Joëlle Schneider, Sustainability Coördinator

Moreover, the available tools have become more user-friendly and accessible. Schneider highlights Greenhouse Sustainability's longstanding commitment to this. “They serve as partners to many stakeholders within the sector and exhibit a huge drive for change. With the tools that are available, you no longer need an extensive study in footprinting, but you can actually get started right away. That removes barriers for many individuals.”

Product footprint

Wieringa and Schneider see a growing interest in footprinting within the horticultural sector. “Increasingly, we are making decisions based on data rather than intuition. This shift is vital, as progress relies on informed choices. However, we must continue pushing forward to sustain this evolution. As an industry, we should collaborate on setting goals with parties like Greenhouse Sustainability, which have a great knowledge and experience, and then proceed together. In truth, our methods in horticulture often align, so let's learn from each other to move forward.”

“Making insight into the product footprint is currently the biggest challenge we face. The retail sector, partly forced by the CSRD legislation, is increasingly interested in understanding the environmental impact of incoming products and services.”

Because company footprints are more widely embraced, the time has come to calculate product footprints. The Flori Footprint Tool facilitates this. “Gaining insight into product footprints is currently our greatest challenge. It's evident that, partly forced by the CSRD legislation, the retail sector is progressively seeking transparency regarding external products. This transparency is also important for producers: how is the starting material produced, how are end products created, and what is the transportation process? A product footprint is the most straightforward way to provide a honest answer to these questions.”

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