The greenhouse industry is experiencing a sustainable revolution: yesterday’s energy guzzler is now at the cutting edge of energy efficiency. Sustainability has become close to home for growers. "Doctors are calling for peppers over pills; vegetables, flowers and plants make people healthier and happier. People are becoming more and more aware of that fact,” says branch organisation LTO Glaskracht Nederland’s Geert van Oosterhout.

The greenhouse industry is experiencing a sustainable revolution: yesterday’s energy guzzler is now at the cutting edge of energy efficiency. Sustainability has become close to home for growers. "Doctors are calling for peppers over pills; vegetables, flowers and plants make people healthier and happier. People are becoming more and more aware of that fact,” says branch organisation LTO Glaskracht Nederland’s Geert van Oosterhout.

Just as many other greenhouse growers do, SV.CO uses the roof of their greenhouses to collect rainwater. But they don’t just use it to water the plants; the buffers installed in greenhouses can also keep the surrounding residential areas dry in case of torrential rainfall.

See for yourself

MPS has also noticed that Dutch greenhouse horticulture has become more sustainable. has also noticed that Dutch greenhouse horticulture has become more sustainable. “Every grower can decide how far they want to take their ambitions for sustainability. We guarantee, measure and verify that they fulfil their promises,” says MPS CEO Yolande van den Boom. Consumers can check how sustainable growers really are on the MPS platform www.followyourflowerorplant.com.

Cutting edge of energy efficiency

Each grower has their own way to take on sustainability. However, there are a few things that everyone is working on, such as energy efficiency. It started with high gas prices, but people soon realised that it was a good idea to start moving away from energy sources that would soon be depleted. Producing a flower, plant or vegetable now costs 60% less fuel than in 1990. And the fuel is cleaner, too: grower such as SV.CO are using geothermal heat and residual heat produced by factories.

At the same time, greenhouse growers are keeping the air cleaner. Greenhouse carbon emissions are now 18% lower than in 1990, while overall carbon emissions in the Netherlands increased by 9%. Geert van Oosterhout: “The greenhouse industry is taking specific steps towards energy transition and will meet the objectives of the Paris Climate Agreement in time.” Yolande van den Boom: "Dutch greenhouses are built around the world, so Dutch technology now also makes for more sustainable horticulture abroad."

Bugs

The use of biological pesticides has risen as much as energy consumption has shrunk. Poison sprays have made way for biological crop protection using natural enemies. Growers are also making plants stronger and more resistant thanks to different greenhouse conditions and organic soil preparations. Geert van Oosterhout: “It’s difficult to completely eliminate chemicals. You could compare it to drugs: healthy diets and homeopathy often offer relief, but when treating serious illnesses it can be necessary to fall back on drugs."

Leaps

Martijn Vreugdenhil: “I’m proud of the greenhouse industry. Every breeder is taking their own steps, which means that the sector as a whole is taking giant leaps in terms of sustainability.”

Large trading companies are striving to have 90% of their flowers and plants certified for sustainability by 2020. signing the FSI objectives to this end.

An International Sustainable Development agreement is currently being drawn up for the flowers and ornamentals industry, similar to the agreements for sustainable textile production promoted by minister Ploumen. “Companies that sign this agreement acknowledge and take their responsibility for good working conditions and clean production throughout the chain, as well as declaring their responsibility for the links ahead of them in the chain, "says Geert van Oosterhout.

"We make products that keep people healthy, giving them their daily dose of vitamins. Sustainable working methods are good fit to the important role of the Dutch greenhouse industry.”