As a florist, , you provide your customers with the most beautiful things nature has to offer every day. But what impact does the cultivation and transportation of these flowers and plants have on the world around us? At Van der Plas, we ask ourselves this question every day. This way, we provide the most beautiful, high-quality flowers and plants now and in the future, while taking into account the world around us.
On behalf of the Floral Trade Group (FTG), the parent company of Van der Plas, Jeroen van Splunter, as CSR manager, is responsible for the sustainability of all activities. "I actively work on Corporate Social Responsibility at Van der Plas and the other FTG companies. In practice, I assess the impact of all business activities on the environment, people, and society. I constantly ask myself: what are the consequences of our way of working? What does this mean for nature and the people involved? And how can we do better every day?"
Jeroen mentions that before he started at FTG, there was no clear policy regarding sustainability. "Of course, the topic was already important to the companies, and they took it into account. But there was no well-defined approach. It was a great and enjoyable challenge for me to bring change and develop a structure. Now, together with my colleagues, I look at ways to further improve our practices every day. It's also important to realize that this is not a process with a beginning and an end. Sustainability is an ongoing process. You should never be satisfied."
One of Jeroen's first steps toward a more sustainable chain was becoming a member of The Floriculture Sustainability Initiative (FSI). Since 2020, FTG has been a member of this initiative, which focuses on transparency in the chain, responsible production and trade, a positive impact on the environment, and improvement of the floriculture chain. "Soon, it will also be possible to filter for 'FSI-compliant' in the Van der Plas webshop," says Jeroen. "This way, we make the chain even more transparent, and the florist can consciously choose sustainable flowers and plants. The multitude of certifications can sometimes be confusing for the florist, but with an FSI member, you can be sure that you are doing well in terms of the environment and social responsibility."
"Of course, we are also there for our growers," Jeroen says. "We want to make the entire chain more sustainable, so we also help the growers who are at the beginning of the chain. We offer our assistance to growers who want to get certified. We organize information days and are ready to help them with any additional questions about the certification process. In this way, we provide them with the resources needed to be ready for future-oriented cultivation. Together, we make the biggest strides."
'Just ride a bike!'
An old saying goes, 'a better world starts with yourself.' In that context, Jeroen also mapped out the carbon footprint of all FTG members. It turned out that more than half of the CO2 emissions were caused by business travel and commuting. That's why since the beginning of this year, FTG has been encouraging all employees to take (electric) bicycles with an advantageous lease arrangement. This way, more employees leave their cars behind. During the national 'Bike to Work Day,' extra attention was given to this initiative, and all cyclists received a small gift.
More Sustainable Transport
The Van der Plas fleet of vehicles is crucial for transporting flowers and plants from the grower to the florist. Van der Plas is also making efforts to become more sustainable in this area. Over the past few years, the wholesaler has been replacing existing trucks with vehicles that comply with the Euro 6 environmental standard. This has resulted in a halving of CO2 emissions. To further reduce emissions, Van der Plas is also exploring the feasibility of using alternative, cleaner fuels such as HVO 100 for their trucks.
Man with a mission
In the four years that Jeroen has worked at FTG, he has already achieved notable accomplishments. For example, the company utilizes solar panels to generate green energy and relies on wind farms to meet additional electricity needs. As a result, the company is completely carbon neutral in terms of electricity consumption. Additionally, Van der Plas has been working with growers to minimize packaging materials or opt for reusable alternatives. Through a sustainability roadmap with long-term goals, Jeroen is striving to achieve further milestones. "My mission is to create a fully sustainable supply chain. We are already well on our way, but we continue to seek improvements. This way, future generations can continue to enjoy the most beautiful flowers and plants that nature provides."