Sustainability is a ‘hot topic’ which is also on the consumer agenda. Customers are more and more demanding, while product pricing is are coming under increasing pressure. It’s a tricky combination but that didn’t stop Celieplant/Bouquetnet taking a leap towards the future a few years ago. They opted for a brand new sustainable wholesale plant nursery in Aalsmeer, Netherlands. Commercial director Peter Janmaat: “We wouldn’t be where we are today if we hadn’t taken that step.”
As you arrive, the premises look open, light and modern. There is no reception, but the employee who I meet in the hall is happy to help and goes to find Peter Janmaat. The next employee I encounter is making a cup of coffee and immediately offers to make one for me; he then explains how much he loves the new premises.
Peter Janmaat explains that the new site has been more beneficial to the employees than he originally imagined; it’s an added bonus on the list of improvements. He explains: “Sustainability has always been high on our agenda but in the old premises, we were faced with limited options. Yes, we could separate waste but that was about it. The new site is completely made of concrete. If we ever leave, it can be pulverised. We have 2,000 solar panels on the roof, which provide most of the energy we need. We are also careful with water, the flowers we buy direct from the growers and use to create bouquets on site, are provided with rainwater. We collect this ourselves on the roof, which covers 10,000 m2, and we store it in a 600,000 litre water reservoir. This is then filtered and pumped to the buckets. The dirty water that we receive from growers in the flower buckets is then recycled by us, in the toilets.”
Sustainability – it’s not optional
With this site, a sustainable base has been created for operations, but it doesn’t stop there; sustainability is not optional. Janmaat: “We encourage employees to come to work on their bikes as often as possible. The directors drive electric cars and we have our own charging points. You notice that people who make this type of choice become inspired to make more sustainable choices for themselves too.”
The next step is to increase sustainability in terms of the product and customer; Celieplant/Bouquetnet is currently looking at packaging materials and is on the hunt for more sustainable alternatives. This involves the Chrysal flower food packs too. “Instead of bags of soluble plastic, we have installed a Chrysal dosing machine. This means we always have an exact dose of flower food in our buckets and save 21,000 kg of plastic each year!”
Container Centralen fits into this picture. Janmaat: “CC is a vital player in the flower and plants market; we also use huge numbers of Danish trolleys. It makes transport more efficient and you don’t have any waste. It is important to ensure your administration runs efficiently and that’s why we have someone who focuses on container administration. You always hear people talking about the value of flowers in a lorry and then stressing about a box that’s gone missing but, in truth, the value of the trolleys is sometimes even higher. You should also see these as having a cash value; I can’t understand why people don’t see them as really important.”
How does he feel about the change to the repair quota for CC Containers, to 20%? Janmaat: “We are not happy about it but we do understand. In the current situation, the system is widely abused and that’s not just the case for Container Centralen. CC must be careful to implement changes in consultation with the market. However, change will always be necessary because the world around us is always changing, and we understand that.”
What does this provide?
What does sustainability provide? Janmaat: “We are a pioneer and we are proud of our position but you can’t make big changes if your motivation is purely economic. Not every investment provides direct returns, but we are gaining clients because they can see that we are working on this aspect. Making real changes in an outdated environment is difficult; my best tip is to think carefully about rebuilding or relocating because that is the time when you can implement major changes!”
Celieplant/Bouquetnet will once again make this a reality with the construction of a hotel on the site for the numerous Polish employees, and a second site which is almost as big as the first. “Here, we are really going the extra mile; twice as many solar panels and an improved waste processing system. We currently sort and recycle our own card, plastic and green waste but in the near future, this waste will be immediately disposed of via a conveyor belt. If you keep everything clean, including knives, the belts and the floor, your flowers will have a better shelf-life. We have noticed this already with the special floor that we have, which has reduced bacterial measurements by 60%.” This becomes even clearer when we make a final tour of the production hall after closing; the floors look clean and the products look fresh. A great product with a future-proof story.
Working in a pool
Alongside the use of CC Containers, Celieplant/Bouqetnet also collaborates intensively with Container Centralen for a client in Belgium. A closed pool system has been set up for this client, with CC Containers and Eurocontainers. Celieplant/Bouquetnet takes care of the container administration and deliveries to the client, while CC ensures that the empty materials are returned. Janmaat: “It’s an effective and transparent system where everyone knows what the other party is doing. This has been running smoothly for a few years and now we are taking the next step and allowing the client’s Italian branches to join the pool too.”
Source: Container Centralen