Our Chief Sustainability Officer Joris van der Els tells you all about it.
bloomon is on a sustainability journey and is sure to bring along a bag filled with ambitious plans. For quite some time, we’ve been very busy with making substantial plans towards sustainability. But what are these plans? Meet our Chief Sustainability Officer Joris van der Els who can tell you all about them.
What’s bloomon’s ambition when it comes to sustainability?
Right from the start, we at bloomon were able to shorten our chain of supply, ensuring very little excess flowers that are wasted and having limited CO2 emissions. A great start surely, but that’s not all. We are committed to offering flowers that make people and the environment happy, all across the board. For example, we continue to grow our beautiful and strong flowers with fewer pesticides and 100% climate-neutral. We also want to share the positive effect that flowers have on your health with as many people as possible. It is very important to us that we are open and transparent about our developments, findings and challenges. We hope that we can inspire others in our sector and the consumer to make the right choices. Only by being open and willing to collaborate we can make big strong steps forward together.
Why do your plans also include the health of people?
“Sustainability is not just about the environment, it’s also about coexisting in a fair way. For me, this is a double-whammy. First of all, we make sure that there are good working conditions for everyone who’s involved in the creation of our beautiful bouquets - from our employees to the growers. There’s a lot of interest in this topic in our sector, for example, initiatives like the Floriculture Sustainability Initiative, a market-driven organisation that unites members of the international floriculture sector. Secondly, I strongly feel that we as a company should contribute to society because we make people happy. In The Netherlands for example, we make sure that every bouquet that can’t be delivered for whatever reason, will be delivered to a Ronald McDonald House. During the peak of corona, we delivered bouquets to care facilities to show support to care workers. The balance between our ambitions when it comes to people and planet, I think, causes us to contribute to a better world for everything and everyone.”
Why is it important to make the floricultural sector more sustainable?
“Despite the many initiatives in the floricultural sector, there is still enough to do when it comes to sustainability. By openly sharing what we’ve learned, we make our knowledge available to others. One of the results is that a bloomon bouquet has an average emission of about 6.7 kilo CO2 equivalent. That's about as much as driving 33 kilometres in a petrol car (source Milieucentraal*). These insights have helped us to know which steps in our chain have an impact on our CO2 emissions. This made us decide to proactively compensate for the emissions that we cannot decrease. A great step forward, but there is still a lot yet to be done!”
What other steps is bloomon planning to take in its sustainability journey?
“One of our focus points is decreasing the use of pesticides. We notice that a lot of our partner-growers are working hard on using fewer pesticides. That’s a very positive thing. But this also this got us thinking: What will happen if we take this one more step further? What if we can offer our customers a completely organic bouquet? So, in The Netherlands and Belgium, we launched our Bio-Bouquet, a bouquet filled with 100% organic flowers. We can now offer people in The Netherlands and Belgium organic certified flowers grown without the use of any pesticides. Our customers now have the option to go organic and this allows us to fully support organic growers. We hope to inspire others in our sector to also go organic, or even partially, by using fewer pesticides.
Why aren’t all bloomon bouquets organic?
“Simply put, there are not enough organic flowers to make all our bouquets organic. We can now offer a maximum of 500 Bio-Bouquets a week. Of all the land used to grow flowers in The Netherlands, only 0.1% is used for organic flowers. Moreover, not all types of flowers can be grown organically. For example, for some species, there are currently no organic growing methods, and often, pesticides are vital to guarantee high quality. That’s why we are very content that our non-organic growers are also taking the appropriate steps by growing with fewer pesticides, for example by using natural enemies in their greenhouses.”
Is your expectation that all bouquets will be organic in the future?
“First thing, we are striving to decrease the use of pesticides. How and when is too hard to tell right now. Currently, the demand for organic flowers is not as high as it is for organic fruit and vegetables. And even if the demand would be increasing, there’s still low availability of organic flowers, it takes a traditional grower three years to become fully organic. Additionally, a large part of Dutch flowers are grown for export to other countries, and these countries also have very high demands when it comes to bugs or diseases found in the flowers. These demands are even more difficult to meet with organic flowers. Furthermore, growing flowers organically is quite difficult because you offer the entire plant (the flowers, leaves and stem), whereas with fruit only one part. So when even a single leaf or petal is slightly damaged, you’ll notice. But I’m still hopeful, because if the consumer demand for organic flowers will increase then the supply will have to follow!”
What are this year’s plans?
“We’ve been 100% climate-neutral since June 2020. We’ve done an extensive analysis of our CO2 emissions, which we now fully compensate for. This is a step in the right direction because though compensating is good, reducing is our goal. We are very busy to get 100% transparency on all the certificates of our growers, to see where there’s still room for improvement. To close things off, we feel it’s very important to openly share our insights and communicate these. On our sustainability page everyone can follow our ambitions, goals, findings and challenges! To flowers that make everyone happy!”
*Source: Milieucentraal, dated 5 August 2020, updated Jan 2020: 1 km of driving an average petrol car emits 0.2kg CO2 equivalent per kilometre. An average bloomon bouquet with emissions of 6.7 kg CO2 equivalent is therefore equivalent to driving 33 kilometres.