Flora Holland
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Royal Flora Holland ‘reprehensible’ for 21 years

The Plastic Soup Foundation has got hold of a study from 1996 in which the huge detrimental environmental impact – even then – of single-use potted plant trays is described. This shows that Royal Flora Holland has failed to address this problem for the last 21 years, choosing instead to explicitly continue to develop these trays.

The study from 1996, carried out by the Environmental Studies Centre of Leiden University, leaves no room for debate. A lot would be explained if the auction house would publish the findings of a recent study – carried out by Blonk Consultants – straight away: this report draws almost the same conclusion.

Hopefully it will lead to the realization that switching to multiple use trays would be a better choice for both the environment and the sector.




sierteeltsector zierpflanzensektor plastikpaletten

Research into single-use plant trays already under scrutiny

Deputy Minister for Infrastructure and the Environment Sharon Dijksma has answered questions in parliament on the use of single-use plastic trays in the ornamental horticulture sector. The problem is that there are dozens of different types of tray (a different one for every pot size) with a very short life span. Every year, 180 million trays are used which is a stunning 23 million kilos in weight! The ornamental horticulture sector is a major consumer of plastic and it generates a lot of waste.

A  report by the Plastic Soup Foundation on this issue led directly to the parliamentary questions. Royal FloraHolland (RFH) commissioned a consultancy in July to compare the environmental performance of various trays. Minister Dijksma will only consult with the sector once the report has been published. What is strange is that according to Flora Holland itself the report should have been completed by now. RFH announced on 12 July 2016 that findings of the report were expected within a few weeks. What could be the reason for such a long delay?

One reason could be that research into the environmental performance of different types of (single-use and multiple-use) plant trays is not as simple as it seems. The research is being carried out by Blonk Consultants based on a life cycle analysis (LCA). The environmental performance of the various types of trays are being determined using scores for the use of material, energy and CO2 emissions. This method, however, does not cover leakage into the environment and the environmental damage this causes. The negative footprint of plastic is always greater because plastic does not biodegrade.

As a result the report is already under scrutiny before it has even been published. What the Plastic Soup Foundation is actually wants to see is the drastic reduction of single-use plastics so that the chance of leakage into the environment is significantly reduced. A report presenting single-use trays as sustainable, because they could possibly be recycled as a raw material for new trays actually misses the point. Many trays are given to consumers to take home by garden centres and are not collected for recycling.

That is something that Minister Dijksma can’t explain away.