May 18, 2010

Seeley Focus Is Global Warming, Climate Change & You

Only a few seats remain for the 25th annual Seeley Conference in Ithaca, N.Y., where industry leaders will discuss floriculture’s environmental footprint as a consumer opportunity. The 25th annual Seeley conference is only seven weeks away and there are a few seats left. The think-tank conference is June 26-29, in Ithaca, N.Y., where this year’s theme is: “Floriculture’s Environmental Footprint: An Inconvenient Truth Or Consumer Opportunity?” For several years, we’ve heard about global warming and climate change as issues we need to address. Of course, the real issues revolve around what it means for the bottom line for our individual businesses. How will the outcomes of the current legislative debate impact us? Are there modifications we need to make to stay in business once the debate ends and the laws are enacted? Will our businesses be able to remain financially solvent or will regulations force us out of business? These […]

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March 30, 2010

Slow Going For Sustainable Standard

WalMart’s Sustainability Vendor Questionnaire WalMart’s Sustainability Index measures the sustainability of every product it sells. Read the 15 questions WalMart asks on its vendor questionnaire.  Doug Cole is a sustainability proponent. Last summer, his greenhouse operation, D.S. Cole Growers in Loudon, N.H., was the first in the United States to earn the MPS-ABC environmental certificate, and Cole is currently striving to improve his operation’s sustainable rating in MPS’s A-B-C system. Cole even serves on the Environmental Sustainability Criteria Development subcommittee working toward establishing a National Sustainable Agriculture Standard. The subcommittee is tasked with developing six environmental principles, the first of which was recently developed after months of debate. It focuses on air pollution and water and soil degradation. When the subcommittee establishes all six principles, metrics will be developed to determine exactly what’s sustainable and what isn’t. But at the committee’s current pace, Cole believes a National Sustainable Agriculture Standard […]

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March 30, 2010

Walmart’s Supplier Sustainability Assessment

Walmart plans to develop a Sustainability Index that measures the sustainability of every product it sells. One of the first steps Walmart took toward in the index was aking all vendors 15 questions about their sustainability. The questions, divided into four categories, are as follows: View As A PDF Click here to view Walmart’s questionnaire as a PDF. Energy & Climate: Reducing Energy Costs and Greenhouse Gas Emissions 1. Have you measured your corporate greenhouse gas emissions? 2. Have you opted to report your greenhouse gas emissions to the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP)?  3. What is your total annual greenhouse gas emissions reported in the most recent year measured? 4. Have you set publicly available greenhouse gas reduction targets? If yes, what are those targets? Material Efficiency: Reducing Waste & Enhancing Quality 5. If measured, please report the total amount of solid waste generated from the facilities that produce your product(s) for Walmart for […]

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March 16, 2010

Plug Connection Now MPS-Certified Sustainable

Plug Connection joined D.S. Cole Growers this week as an MPS-certified sustainable greenhouse operation in the United States. “We chose MPS because we like the idea of being able to compare ourselves with growers who run similar operations,” says Tim Wada, Plug Connection owner. “We were the first operation in our segment of the industry to become certified organic, and it was natural for us to continue along the sustainability path.” When measuring Plug Connection’s sustainability, Wada says the operation recycles whatever it can, from paper, cardboard and plastic trays to internally generated water runoff. For more information, visit PlugConnection.com or My-MPS.com.

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November 10, 2009

VeriFlora Certifies Another Grower

F&B Farms and Nursery, a wholesale operation with four acres of greenhouse production plus outdoor perennial production in Woodburn, Ore., recently met VeriFlora’s sustainability standard and earned certification. Leigh Geschwill, wholesale manager at F&B, says the operation pursued certification because consumers are looking for extra value. “They want to know their purchases are not having a negative impact on the environment,” Geschwill says. “VeriFlora provides us an independent, third-party certification consumers can believe in.”

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October 28, 2009

Ellepot Papers Now VeriFlora Approved

Two types of papers Ellepot USA uses–the Ellepot EP and VP papers–are now certified as VeriFlora Approved Input Materials. According to VeriFlora, some of the sustainable attributes related to the use of Ellepot EP and VP papers include: –Degradable papers produce less waste and environmental impact than alternatives such as plastic pots.–EP and VP papers are Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified from well-managed forests.–Ellepot paper is, in many cases, sustainable cheaper than plastic pots. –One roll of paper is equivalent to about 17,000 4-inch pots. One pallet of paper holds 32 times that, or 540,000 pots, taking up much less space (and weight) on a pallet, allowing greater efficiency in transportation.–The Ellepot reduces the amount of planting media needed and avoids root shock when transplanting by keeping the soil secured around the root system. “Ellepot USA is proud to have two of our paper types approved as VeriFlora input materials,” […]

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October 28, 2009

Viability Secures $1.3M In Energy Grants

Viability reaped the reward of a national focus on energy efficiency and renewable energy projects, securing $1.3 million in clean energy grant funding and leveraging $31.5 million in overall project investment for its clients as part of USDA’s Renewable Energy for America Program (REAP). The federal REAP grant funds up to $250,000 for efficiency projects and $500,000 for renewable energy projects in designated rural areas. Viability assists companies prepare and submit grant applications that promote sustainability through several programs. “Businesses are seizing the opportunity to lower operational costs and reduce their environmental footprint through clean energy technologies,” says Viability President Chris Byrnes. “Even though these energy projects pay for themselves in time, the grant helps overcome the initial capital investment that accompanies new technologies.” Altogether, Viability’s REAP clients will reduce their carbon dioxide emissions by 33,519 tons annually, the majority of which results from its greenhouse clients. That amount, according […]

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October 14, 2009

Sustainability Times Ten

You can’t venture more than a few hundred yards without encountering a sustainable concept in Amsterdam and its surrounding areas. Windmills and wind turbines are everywhere, bicycles outnumber people and, as a South African journalist joked today, the sheep are the lawn mowers here. Sustainable products have made their way into the greenhouse, as well. The one that struck me most Wednesday was a fibrous material called Rockwool that Tomato World uses as its growing media. A company called Grotop manufactures the Rockwool, which Tomato World uses for all tomatoes on site. Once Rockwool has run its course, it is shredded and stored for six weeks before being converted into brick. The plastic residue is also recycled for synthetics companies, making the media 100 percent recylable.

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September 30, 2009

VeriFlora Program Launched For Retailers

Blooming potted plant and cut flower growers already know a little about VeriFlora. Now, retailers have another reason to know about VeriFlora, too. Sustainability Certification Systems (SCS), the VeriFlora sustainability certifier for growers, recently launched a program for retailers called the VeriFlora Preferred Retailer Program. The program is now open to garden center retailers and florists interested in promoting their products as VeriFlora certified sustainably grown. “The VeriFlora Preferred Retail Program provides a new opportunity for retailers who want to proactively demonstrate their commitment to sustainability, and differentiate their floral business or garden center,” says Michael Keyes, VeriFlora certification manager at SCS. In the retail program, SCS will train staff about the environmental, social and quality requirements that must be met by growers and handlers of certified flowers and plants. Once training is completed, stores are advised in the implementation of quality control measures. Since 2005, the VeriFlora grower program […]

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September 30, 2009

Online Only: Doug Cole On MPS Certification

Grower Doug Cole has been working closely with the Dutch to bring its successful MPS environmental certification to North American growers. Over the summer, D.S. Cole Growers in Loudon, N.H., became the first greenhouse operation in the United States to earn the MPS-ABC environmental certificate.Based in Holland, MPS is a nonprofit organization developed by the Dutch floriculture industry to respond to environmental concerns and has been active in more than 50 countries. Participating growers document their fertilizer, energy and chemical use and waste management and achieve an A, B or C rating on a 100-point scale. Cole shares his experience with the program to date: GG: Why did you decide to pursue MPS certification? Cole: A few years ago, sustainability certification became a hot topic. At that time, Walmart was considering requiring its vendors to be certified by Veriflora. I was president of OFA and I had a good knowledge […]

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September 28, 2009

Eagle Creek Leads Green Movement

Progressive grower-retailer Eagle Creek Garden Center in Bainbridge and Mantua, Ohio, received an Emerald Award from Crain’s Cleveland Business last week for leading the region in sustainable initiatives. The Emerald Awards recognize Northeast Ohio companies that have implemented sustainable strategic priorities that significantly trim costs or increase cash flow with innovations and products that reduce their environmental footprint. An independent panel of judges reviewed nominations that included information on an organization’s sustainability initiative and goals, as well as the results and impact of those efforts on the triple bottom line–people, planet and profit. Eagle Creek won the award in the medium for-profit company category, with $9.9 million in annual revenues or less. “Eagle Creek Garden Center hopes to become nearly fossil-fuel independent by 2011 and employ a 100 percent local work force,” Crain’s reported. “Eagle Creek strives to use biodegradable and environmentally safe products and to recycle 100 percent of […]

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