28 Mar 2023

Development of an innovative LCA Tool to help horticultural companies improve their Environmental Footprint

Growing Media Europe LCA Platform

In 2019 Blonk started a project for Growing Media Europe (GME), the European association of growing media producers, to set up a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) platform, making it easy and accessible for their members and any other stakeholder to measure and improve the environmental footprint of growing media products. Growing media, sometimes called potting soils or substrates, are materials other than soil in situ in which plants and mushrooms are grown. 

Over the last years Blonk worked on an LCA Platform for GME, consisting of: 

  • LCA guidelines for the growing media sector, following guidance from the European Product Environmental Footprint (PEF)

  • LCA database

  • Online LCA Platform to make environmental calculations

The GME LCA platform is now available, for all interested organizations, and brings together the recently released Growing Media Environmental Footprint Guidelines (GMEF guidelines) and the LCA database.

Development of the Growing Media Environmental Footprint (GMEF) guidelines

The GMEF guidelines are the result of an extensive Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) project that started in 2018 with the intention to develop methods to analyze the environmental impact of growing media. The guidelines provide a set of recommendations and best practices that help companies calculate their environmental impact when producing growing media.

The new LCA standard enables all growing media producers to calculate their product´s environmental impact using the same calculation rules, considering the same impact categories, aligned with the Product Environmental Footprint (PEF) method published by the European Commission.

The GMEF Guidelines also builds upon the following guidelines:

  • IPCC Guidance on National Greenhouse Gas Inventories 2006
  • 2013 Supplement to the 2006 IPCC Guidelines for National Greenhouse Gas Inventories: Wetlands
  • PAS2050-1:2012
  • PAS2050:2011

"We are proud to be the frontrunner sector to launch this innovative tool that will help growing media companies improve their environmental footprint," said Thanja van Dongen, chairwoman of GME. "With this tool, companies can easily identify areas where they can reduce their environmental impact and become more sustainable. We hope that more companies will join us in this effort to make the horticultural industry more environmentally friendly."

Thanja van Dongen - Chairwoman of Growing Media Europe

“It is important to note that even though a growing medium may have a higher environmental impact as a standalone product, it can still contribute to a more efficient growth and thus ultimately lead to a lower environmental impact of the crop,” said Hans Blonk from Blonk. “Therefore, we believe that it is crucial to consider the full life cycle and include the use phase of growing media products As such, it is essential that the GMEF guidelines are further aligned within the horticultural sector to create more comprehensive sustainability practices that benefit the entire industry.”

Hans Blonk - director Blonk

Online tool to assess environmental footprints

Guidelines are only useful if they can be practically applied in the industry. Therefore, Blonk developed an online tool and corresponding datasets for GME, which allow growing media producers to assess the environmental impact of their operations and identify opportunities for improvement. The tool has already been licensed by more than 20 companies and is now available for all horticultural companies that want to improve their sustainability practices.

Expansion to the entire crop production supply chain

The GMEF guidelines currently focus on the environmental impact of growing media as a standalone product. However, alignment with the ornamental sector within the FloriPEFCR and with fruits and vegetable sector (Freshfel) within the HortiFootprint project are on the agenda for further development of the tool. This will enable horticultural companies to calculate the environmental impact of their entire supply chain for crop production, including growing media products.

Access the GME LCA Platform

The GME LCA Platform is available for all interested organizations, both GME members and non-members.

The access of the GME LCA platform is managed on a licence base. In case you are interested in a requiring a license please get in touch with us.

More information

Get in touch

Meike Hopman
Team Manager

If you have questions about this project or are interested to develop a customized online LCA or environmental calculation tool for your sector? Get in touch with Meike Hopman.