With ever increasing awareness of sustainability, it is important as a florist, you know what steps your industry is taking to make positive changes and how you can support these to benefit your business and your customers.
We know it can all feel a bit daunting, so in this newsletter we want to give you a few tips you can focus on this month. We’ll inform you of some useful products available and what the industry is doing on your behalf.
Empowering your customer with guidance on how to dispose of the products you make
Highlighting the key differences in products
Biological material, if designed correctly, can biodegrade back into soil by breaking down into increasing smaller pieces with the help of bacteria, fungi and microbes. But biodegradable does not always mean it becomes something that is good for the environment. Some products when biodegraded breakdown into harmful chemicals and gases, so how the product is designed has a great impact. For example, we know paper can be composted, but if it has toxic inks, it would be no good for the soil. In addition some products break down into natural gases too including methane and carbon dioxide. These are greenhouse gases, but this is what most organic materials break down into e.g. food waste. Some landfill sites capture the gases that are emitted from rotting waste to produce biogas.
Compost is the natural process of recycling organic matter, such as flowers, foliage into fertiliser that can enrich soil and plants.
One solution for a florist is to consider using material that the consumer can:
- Biodegrade (non toxic)
Include instruction to the consumer on how to dispose of the designs we make, This also gives us the opportunity to review the products we use.
As florists we use a range of material to make our final product. For example, a gift bouquet has the wrapping material, ribbon, binding, sticking, stapling, cards, food, plus flowers and foliage. If we want to be sustainable then it is really important that we inform the customer how they can dispose of every part of the product. This helps complete the product life cycle to a circular economy.
Design eco friendly bouquets
We have had a look at some of the products available and listed them below with useful links. There are lots of other great products available this is just an example we have found for you.
- Compostable Bouquet Wrap Compostable Bouquet Wrap | Eco-Friendly & Plastic Free and frosted films (These OASIS® frosted films can be recycled via soft plastic recycling at in-store collection points)
- Ribbon that can be placed in the recycle paper bin- Bio Paper Ribbon
- Tying and sticking with biodegradable binds- We found this great site that has loads of ideas of alternatives to cellotape, plus biodegradable wools and twines for tying. Rainbow Pastel Paper Tape Set , Jute Twine 100m (2mm thickness)
- Flower food that has no harmful chemicals and is wrapped in compostable paper.
Chrysal Compostable sachet | Chrysal . “The sachet is produced from 100% industrial compostable film made from 2 organic layers. This means the sachet can be thrown away together with your garden and organic waste. The sachet is fully industrial compostable in 12 weeks time; just as quick as a banana or orange peel. The flower food keeps flowers more beautiful up to 60% longer for the customer”
This simple chart shows the customer how to dispose of each item listed above.
|Flower and Foliage
|Compostable Paper Bouquet Wrap
|Home compostable (depending on the specifics of the product you have bought)
|Bio Paper Ribbon
|Paper Recycling (depending on the specifics of the product you have bought)
|Jute Twine binding
|Compostable (depending on the specifics of the product you have bought)
|Compostable Sachet Flower Food
|Industrial compostable/Home Compostable (depending on the specifics of the product you have bought)
|Rainbow Pastel Sticky tape
|Paper Recycling (depending on the specifics of the product you have bought)
This kind information could be added to the back of your care card for the design. Giving the customer useful knowledge of how they can play their part in disposing of the bouquet. Your own care card will need to be specific to the products you have chosen to sell in your business.
Thinking about the right product for the situation
Reusing and keeping the plastic material in circulation as long as possible is much better than recycling as recycling involves energy and money to transform it back into a material that can be used. For example, Plastic Floristry trays v Bio trays for Double Ended Spray
In theory if you can get the customer to return the plastic tray and reuse it over and over again then it is much better for the environment than manufacturing bio trays, that can be composted, but take energy and resources to make. It’s great to use products too which are already made of recycled plastic too, like the black and green trays featured above.
The choice comes down to the florist knowing what the customer wants to use the product for.
If the design is to be left at a grave, then go for:
- OASIS® Bio tray or TerraBrick™ – compostable
- Sphagnum moss-compostable
- Natural compostable binding string- compostable
- Seasonal Flowers and foliage -compostable
If the design can be dismantled, then you could use:
- Plastic tray- return and reuse.
- Natural string or wool- biodegradable.
- Flowers and foliage- compostable.
- FibreFloral™ Design Media from Smithers-Oasis– “natural product based on volcanic basalt rock with a bio-based binder that is derived from rapidly renewable materials. Not suitable for home composting, but can be re-usable, for growing plants from cuttings and seeds”.
- Natural Floral Foam™ “products produced by Agra Wool International™, made from Basalt and a type of sucrose (cane or beet sugar) are degradable. All ingredients are all-natural substances and completely biodegradable until Basalt flour remains”. Both products would need to be placed in general waste if not reused.
- Sphagnum moss-compostable.
Reducing your business costs and saving Water
Recently Chrysal embarked on an impartial test with BFA florists to test their Professional 2 flower food. This test was to see if the water consumption could be reduced and how the food enhances the flower longevity and quality. We had 8 enthusiastic member florists take part and you can read the post with the results.
It’s really important we all continue work together in this way and strive for better planet friendly practices for our industry.
Choosing the products your business sells and understanding the labels on your wholesale flower wraps
The floral industry is vast and there are systems in place that are helping us to be more sustainable. You may notice a couple of labels, such as FSI and MPS and wonder what they mean.
FSI – Floriculture Sustainability Initiative- Sets standards for sustainability.
“The Floriculture Sustainability Initiative (FSI) is a market-driven initiative that brings together members of the international floriculture sector. Towards 2025, FSI members will continue to build on the progress made on transparency, responsible production and trade, positive impact and improvement in the floriculture supply chain”
“There are 16 Voluntary Sustainable Standards and Schemes in the FSI Basket. They are fully transparent, comparable and by means of independent benchmarking, complying with Good Agricultural Practices (GAP), Environmental and/or Social basic requirements.”
MPS – provide sustainability certification and auditing for horticulture businesses worldwide, in line with the FSI standards.
“MPS is a Dutch private organisation manages various certificates, with the aim of promoting sustainability in the horticultural sector. It has developed an environmental standard (MPS-ABC) on basis of registration of four environmental elements: minimum use of chemical crop protection, nutrition, energy and split collection of waste. MPS also addresses social and quality issues via other certification schemes, such as MPS-GAP and MPS-Socially Qualified (SQ).”
What is happening in the world of growers and farmers- How companies can make good decisions based on facts.
At our visit to IFTF back in November, Julie Collins met up with Kim Helderman from LetsGrow who explained how auditing works and helps the grower be sustainable.
LetsGrow liaises with farmers and growers from around the world using artificial intelligence and monitors in their greenhouses collect data on irrigation, transportation, climate, drainage and energy being used, to give the growers forecasts on their crops.
This is a really healthy way of growing as it stops the gut feeling and helps the growers understand what the plant needs so they can make adjustments to optimise crop growth and also reduce the amount of energy used or water wastage etc.
They work with small growers to large producers and this technology is helping give new generations of growers a better understanding of plant development. The information they collate enable them to compare data year after year, so that they can optimise their (growing) strategies and produce strong and healthy plants that flourish in balanced growing conditions.
31% Reduction in Fertilisers
52% Reduction in IPM applications
13,8% Reduction in gas consumption
13% Increase in production
14% Reduction in water usage
15% Increase in net profit
Together with MPS, LetsGrow.com partnered in creating the Hortifootprint calculator. MPS helps horticultural entrepreneurs worldwide in their efforts to operate more sustainably. MPS also offers them a complete package to make quality and sustainability transparent, measurable and demonstrable. LetsGrow.com is strong in creating information out of raw data, which creates faster and more precise decision making.
Growers already use MPS to do registrations on their usage of packaging, pest control, energy, water, fertilisers and LetsGrow.com collects this data in order to do the calculation how much CO2 eq is matching with the usage of all these.
Keeping in touch with UK Growers
We recently caught up with Belinda Green general manger from British Flower Grower, Lambs Flowers Ltd in Spalding to find out what auditing is available to British growers. This is useful for you to know what to look for when buying British.
OHAS – Read more here HTA | OHAS For Retailers & Buyers
“OHAS is governed by the Horticultural Trades Association (HTA). It is an internationally accredited quality assurance scheme for growers and pack houses of ornamental horticultural products and producers of growing media.
The Scheme raises industry standards and meets the needs of plant health initiatives by providing full traceability of plant, cut flower and growing media production. It sets high standards of professionalism, sustainability and environmental management and the annual, external audit process ensures these standards are achieved and maintained. It drives a guaranteed business model of continuous improvement”.
GLOBALG.A.P. – “a Trademark and Set of Standards for Good Agricultural Practices that is internationally recognised. Their aim is to ensure integrity, transparency and harmonisation of global agricultural standards. This includes:
- Worker’s health
- Safety and welfare
- Sustainable land use
International grower focus
Kenya Flowers and what they are doing to improve their reputation with sustainability.
The Sustainability of Kenyan Cut Flowers
Whilst at the IFTF we spoke to Mille Seagon, Director of The Flower Hub, in Kenya. She was passionate about flowers grown in Kenya and how sustainability is becoming top of their agenda. We thought it would be great to share their story.
The Flower Hub
“Acts as a service provider between the best farms in Kenya direct to your business. This reduces the steps from farm to customer which means fresher flowers, and therefore a longer vase life to enjoy your blooms.”
Cut flowers is one of Kenya’s largest sources of foreign income and contributes over 1% to Kenya’s GDP, supporting over 5 million people indirectly. At The Flower Hub they believe firmly that the future of cut flowers in Kenya must be fully sustainable and that this must be independently verified through a holistic approach to certification, including the certification of Carbon Neutrality.”
There is rightly a drive from the customer base to reduce the use of chemical fertilisers and pesticides. The growers that they work with are fully conscious of this and actively implementing biological control programs, but they have a number of growers who are pushing beyond this and following regenerative principals that over time will almost eliminate the use of chemicals.
At Groove Flowers, Goats graze on the waste from the factory eating the leaves before the stems are turned into Biochar which is used to boost organic matter of the soil.
A Maternity Unit at El Dama Ravine Hospital, sponsored by Karen Ravine Roses. Now the best Maternity Unit in the county!
A biodiverse rainwater storage lake at Sosiani Alstroemeria, which attracts a wide range of birds and waterfowl.
The Flower Hub growers are active participants in the communities that surround their farms and often with support from outside social funds or foundations have and continue to invest heavily in a wide range of projects that will benefit both the planet and the people they employ as well as the local communities. Examples of these include providing food to local schools to building new structures for local hospitals.
In 2023 The Flower Hub, started the process towards B-Corp certification as a way of demonstrating our commitment to sustainable ways of doing business. We are also reviewing the right method to allow us to fund projects within our grower base and within our community that support our sustainability program.
So much positive development, each small step business take to improve what they do and how they do it can be the change we want to see. What step inspires you take to become part of this positive movement? Let us know by contacting Julie@britishfloristassociation.org