Category: News
Date published: March 30, 2024

Sustainability drive continues - plastic buckets now recycled!

While our products have been helping growers to transition to more sustainable agriculture and horticulture for more than half a century, much still needs to be done for us to reach our sustainable packaging goals. This means that each product’s packaging is now being closely examined for sustainable alternatives, reuse or recycling options.

While we have had a great deal of success with making our hives as sustainable as possible, and received recognition for products such as Mirical that recently won a prestigious prize for innovative sustainable packaging; a number of challenges still lie ahead of us.

Solving the plastic bucket challenge 

One such challenge is the large Montdo Mite bucket which is made of sturdy plastic. The 6l bucket holds 250.000 predatory mites. These lively mites are effective against various species of thrips in the greenhouse and used in large quantities to control both thrips and whitefly. We have seen these buckets pile up in many farm backyards and took action.

‘Growers were facing high costs to have the buckets removed and asked us how we could help to solve this problem,’ Project Manager Daan Verbeek remembers. ‘That was back in 2020, and we looked into possible paper or cardboard packaging options, but the vitality of our mites remained the all-important consideration.’

Chrysanthemum team to the rescue 

Chrysanthemum growers use large quantities of Montdo Mites in their greenhouses, so it does not come as a surprise that the initiative to recycle the plastic buckets came from the KNL Chrysanthemum team. ‘The challenge the team faced was that the solution needed to be sustainable and affordable. Reusing the bucket at Koppert was not an option as used buckets presented a contamination risk,’ Daan explains.

‘We approached Houweling Group and together found a win-win solution. All the growers have to do is to stack them neatly in rows in a special container that was supplied, and they are picked up by the manufacturer,’ Daan continues. ‘The project was started with 5 flower growers and was soon a success with 40 growers joining the collection drive.’

In this way more than 14.000 were picked up for reuse in 2020, almost 25.000 in 2022, and 33.400 in 2023. This year 80.000 buckets are expected to be collected from growers. At Houweling, the buckets are shredded and used to make other plastic products.

The result is that the growers have gotten rid of the buckets at no extra cost and that Koppert has many more happy customers,’ Daan concludes with a smile.

The overarching goal for Koppert is to transition all products into packaging that aligns with sustainability principles, favoring materials like paper or cardboard, ensuring they're sourced sustainably. However, this transition must not compromise the quality and efficacy of our beneficials within the supply chain. In instances where sustainable alternatives pose challenges, such as maintaining product integrity, responsibly reusing or recycling plastic packaging emerges as a viable solution. As a supplier, it's our duty to shoulder the responsibility of growers from the environmental impact of plastic. It's imperative to recognize that plastic can be sustainable when utilized and repurposed efficiently, preventing its accumulation in the environment.