BASF hosted a media summit June 8-10 to discuss sustainability as a grounded approach for growers. At the summit, Greenhouse Grower caught up with Jan Buberl, director of specialty products at BASF, who outlined the chemical company’s sustainability initiatives.
Q What factors is BASF taking into account to determine which products are sustainable and which are not?
A To determine whether a product is sustainable or not, you have to put that product into the whole context of the production system. Take the example of a greenhouse: A lot of different factors enter the equation. (BASF’s) Eco-Efficiency Analysis system analyzes the full footprint of the value chain, from the production of the active ingredient to the final outcome of the product. We take a lot of different aspects of conservation into account–the use of water, energy and land–to determine the eco-efficiency of our products.
Q Is it the supplier’s role to promote the product as a sustainable one down the supply chain or is that the responsibility of the grower, retailer and others who may work more directly with our industry’s consumers?
A We see sustainability as a key need for our customers. Whatever we can provide to promote sustainability, we are happy to do. What we can do at that point is enable growers with the tools to at least have a sustainable production system and product. I think the dialogue with the grower is important, because a fear we have is that sustainability becomes just a buzz word and something without practical application. It’s important for the grower to be able to see one product is more sustainable than another. And if we can help promote their product at the next level, we would be happy to do so.
Q A dilemma can emerge when competing greenhouse chemical companies develop sustainable products yet measure sustainability differently. So how does the grower choose a vendor when standards are different?
A That’s why it’s important to have dialogue with the grower. At BASF, we have more than just the concept–there’s science behind it, we can calculate, we can compare and we can actually enter into a dialogue and challenge elements of it. I think this whole practical approach makes it much more tangible than just, ‘Hey, a product is more sustainable.’ There’s something behind it now, and that’s why we are very confident customers will understand this concept and take it from there.