"5 Ways Metrolina Greenhouses aims to be earth-friendly every day"

Metrolina Greenhouses celebrated its 50th anniversary in the same month as the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. The Huntersville, North Carolina-based wholesale greenhouse operation, which officially marked 50 years in business on Tuesday, April 26, observed Earth Day this year by highlighting its sustainability efforts and ongoing commitment to Earth-friendly initiatives. Co-CEO Art VanWingerden pointed out that the environmentally sustainable practices Metrolina Greenhouses has adopted over the years have helped the company remain financially sustainable. “We do all of these things because they’re good for the environment, but they’re also good for business,” Art VanWingerden said.

The retention pond

Here are five ways Metrolina Greenhouses has committed to sustainable practices:

100% water reclamation: Metrolina Greenhouses implemented a state-of-the-art water reclamation and recycling system more than 20 years ago. The system makes Metrolina’s growing operations completely self-sufficient and independent, so it doesn’t draw on the local water table. In peak production, Metrolina Greenhouses uses up to 1 million gallons of water per day, so having its own constant supply of extremely clean and plentiful water is essential. Through Metrolina’s extensive water system, it can reclaim water from weather events in multiple retention ponds at both locations. For every inch of rain that falls onto its two campuses, the operation can recycle it into 5 million gallons of clean, fresh water at the greenhouses in Huntersville, North Carolina, and 1 million gallons at its farm in York, South Carolina.

Recycling: Metrolina Greenhouses partnered with each of its three major customers – Lowe’s Home Improvement, The Home Depot, and Walmart – to implement a recycling program starting in 2010. To date, Metrolina Greenhouses’ plastic recycling program reclaims, reuses, or recycles up to 6 million pounds of plastic annually that would otherwise end up in landfills. With its plastics recycling and reuse program firmly in place, both internally and at its retail customers’ stores nationwide, Metrolina is committed to recycling a minimum of 15 million pounds of plastic annually by 2030.

Energy: Metrolina Greenhouses fired up its Vynke biomass boiler system from Belgium in 2009. The wood boilers cover at least 95% of the operation’s heating needs at the Huntersville main campus. Metrolina sources 100% of the wood it uses locally, from recycled wood pallets and construction and timber industry byproducts, which are then made into woodchips to feed the biomass boilers. Using reclaimed wood byproducts that would otherwise be thrown away helps the environment and boosts the local economy.

Biocontrols: Metrolina’s research and development team began investigating methods to reduce its chemical and pesticide use throughout the company nearly ten years ago. In 2015, the team introduced the use of biological controls, including biologically or naturally derived pesticides, beneficial insects, and predatory insects, to eliminate insect pests. A combination of strict sanitation procedures and the use of biocontrols also helps the operation reduce or eliminate plant diseases, keeping crops as healthy and productive as possible. These efforts have resulted in a 25% reduction of chemicals by 2021, including completely eliminating the neonicotinoid class of pesticides.

Sustainability leadership: Metrolina Greenhouses has earned several distinctions and memberships in top-level climate-focused organizations through its sustainability efforts. Metrolina reports its water, energy, and control-product use and has submitted its carbon emissions goals to these organizations:

• Carbon Disclosure Project. https://www.cdp.net/en

• Science Based Targets Initiative. https://sciencebasedtargets.org/ • Floriculture Sustainability Initiative. https://www.fsi2025.com/

• MPS. https://my-mps.com/?lang=en

“When you’re dealing with a complex supply chain, trucking and things of that nature, plus 1,400 retail outlets in a recycling program, there is no one entity that can encompass all of that,” said co-CEO Abe VanWingerden. “We found that we need to partner with several organizations because each provides their own unique area of expertise for our sustainability goals.”

For more information:
Metrolina Greenhouses

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