A step-by-step guide to circular greenhouse horti
Added on 24 February 2023
There’s been a lot of discussion around the circular economy in recent years. But so far it hasn’t really been clear what the circular economy looks like, the role that greenhouse horticulture can play in it, and what’s actually already going on right now. WUR launched the circular greenhouse horticulture research project as a way of answering those questions. The research was funded by WUR’s Club of 100. Ten member businesses in the Club of 100 – each with their own specific expertise – also sat on the project’s guidance committee.
Research into six material flows
The outcome of the research is a document setting out information that the greenhouse horticulture sector can immediately use, says project leader Alexander Boedijn. For example, it clearly explains what circular greenhouse horticulture actually means. “Our objective is to ensure that we’re all speaking the same language as part of efforts to achieve circular greenhouse horticulture.”
The researchers focused on six distinct material flows (water, fertilisers, plastics, biomass, CO2 and substrate) to identify any circular solutions that are already available as well as any innovations that show potential. The research drew on definitions from the R ladder (such as Refuse, Reuse and Recycle) and the transition pathways (as defined by the PBL) to indicate how and why an existing practice or innovation contributes to circularity.
Starting point for innovation
The overview therefore reveals how many or how few solutions currently exist for specific material flows and purposes. As such, it can serve as a starting point for new innovations, says Boedijn. The overview will also be regularly updated, and any businesses that come up with innovations for greenhouse horticulture can pass these on to the researchers. The research also helps the greenhouse horticulture sector show other stakeholders – such as the government and the general public – what’s going on, and what’s being planned for the next few years.
Photo Courtesy of Wageningen University & Research