"When, in 1967, Jan Koppert began searching for biological solutions to control pests and diseases in his cucumber crop, the terms sustainability and LCAs (Life Cycle Analysis) didn't yet exist. That was truly pioneering," says Peter Maes, Chief Strategy Officer (CSO) at the Dutch company Koppert. "We still do that."
Reality and policy are vastly different
"Anyone thinking we now have 'the green wind in our sails' has it wrong. There's a significant difference between reality and policy. European legal frameworks often still lump us together with chemical pesticides. We think that's unjustified. However, explaining our biological products' added value is complicated."
"Our products don't 'fit' into the current calculation systems. These still focus heavily on production and transport. Aspects relevant to us - like positive effects on soil biodiversity and water quality and less human exposure to toxicity - remain underexposed," Peter explains.
Different approach needed
"Insects and living organisms make up more than half our business. You can't snap your finger and produce 1,000 bottles of insects. That takes weeks. Then, you must deliver those highly sensitive organisms to the farmer or growers, chilled and healthy, within a few days. It's very disheartening when we then fare worse when tested against chemical products."
"Those are manufactured on an industrial scale and can easily be stored for two years or more. We, thus, believe more product or company-specific LCAs are needed. In the existing systems, we don't fit into one of the conventional boxes, so we're put in the 'other.' That's not right," says Maes.
"The system must change, which is why we must participate in the debate even more actively and share our know-how and input even wider. We do so along with all kinds of partners."
Footprint calculation frontrunners
"We're pleased to be affiliated with the Horti Footprint Circle. Together with Greenhouse Sustainability, we're critically considering footprint calculation methodologies because - as I said - our products don't always fit in easily. It's an interesting match to be working with Greenhouse Sustainability. They, like us, are true pioneers. You always need people who keep the flame alive," Peter concludes.