“We need to become greener, we are representing a green industry so we can’t be playing against nature, we have to be on the same team,” says Erling J. Ølstad, CEO of Mester Grønn.
Mester Grønn is Norway's largest wholly owned flower chain with over 143 flower shops. The flower industry has been lagging behind when it comes to reducing plastics. The reason is that they are dependent on water to nurture plants, this means they need water resistant material to hold and grow plants. Plastic works well for that as it withstands moisture.
The problem is that a massive amount of plastic is used and many times it is carbon black plastic which is often rejected during sorting at recycling facilities because black is hard to detect.
Rethinking transportation trays: Switching out plasticWith an ambition to replace plastic where they can, Mester Grønn set sight on the single use plastic trays used for transporting plants from growers to flower shops. They discussed with Stora Enso about finding a new sustainable option. It should be plastic-free but still had to meet three criteria:
1. Stiffness and Resilience: The tray needed to retain its rigidity in both dry and humid conditions.
2. Efficiency in Logistics: It needed to follow industry standards to fit the existing logistical chain.
3. Water Resistance: The new material had to be able to withstand exposure to water.
Introducing PureFiber™ Horti tray
Looking for alternative materials for the transportation trays is not a new idea, it has been done before with mixed results. The biggest challenge is to keep the necessary stiffness. Trays made from carton and paper lose their integrity when exposed to water, making them soft and impossible to carry plants in.
Stora Enso suggested PureFiber™ which is a molded fiber that can produce various shapes with the strength needed to transport plants in humid conditions. Three years, four prototypes and lots of testing later. PureFiber™ Horti tray by Stora Enso is launched. It is plastic-free and PFAS free. But also, produced in Sweden with sustainably sourced Nordic wood fiber, using 100% bio energy.
A critically reviewed Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) comparing PureFiber™ Horti tray to the other trays on the market, also shows that it is a climate-friendly choice. When produced, PureFiber™ Horti tray extracts 45-80% less fossil resources from nature than the single-use plastic trays. Even when comparing with trays made from recycled plastic. The study also shows that PureFiber™ Horti tray is cutting CO2 emissions with 56-81% in comparison. The variation in percentage is related to differences in logistics and waste handling in the four countries studied.
“We are very happy about the results. It could make a difference for the whole flower industry in Europe, that’s what we are hoping!” says Mari Bøhm Telle, Marketing team at Mester Grønn.
Collaboration and co-development
Unlike previous paper-based attempts, PureFiber™ Horti tray meets all criteria requested.
“It’s plastic-free and made from formed fiber, yet it’s a completely different product than the paper trays we have tried in the past,” says Erling J. Ølstad.
He continues: “Working with Stora Enso on this has been fantastic, they know how to make an idea a reality. They are thorough, have resources and go the extra mile.”
Giving growers a better price: reusing is a win winGrowers send plants to flower shops. When the plants arrive, they are taken out of the transportation trays. In the past, the trays were thrown away after being used one time. Now, Mester Grønn is reusing the trays. They also offer growers a lower price for this.
“They get a good price and we get a cycle of reusage. It’s a win win!” Mari Bøhm Telle ends.