2008: The Year Of Sustainability

23-01-2008 | |
Koeleman
Emmy Koeleman Freelance editor

In my first blog for the New Year I will start with a topic which I think will be totally 2008! It has been buzzing around for years, but I feel that the coming year will be marked by real measures, transparency and agreements regarding…Sustainability.

In my first blog for the New Year I will start with a topic which I think will be totally 2008! It has been buzzing around for years, but I feel that the coming year will be marked by real measures, transparency and agreements regarding…Sustainability.

I think everyone knows that sustainability is very important to safeguard food, tropical rainforest etc for future generations. However, the term sustainability can be used in different ways.

Vague definition
According to Wikipedia the term in its environmental usage, refers to the potential longevity of vital human ecological support systems, such as the planet’s climatic system, systems of agriculture, industry, forestry, and fisheries, and human communities in general and the various systems on which they depend in balance with the impacts of our unsustainable or sustainable design. Ok, can you follow this?, because I cannot; its too vague. I therefore want to highlight some practical examples from the agriculture/feed sector on how they interpret this topic.

Example 1: Feed Expo joins
The 2008 International Poultry Expo and the International Feed Expo in Atlanta USA kicked off Wednesday. New this year is the Eco-Innovation programme, which will spotlight issues such as using poultry litter for fertilizer or fuel, using poultry fat as bio-fuel, fluorescent lighting, wastewater recycling, as well as high efficiency motors and equipment. In addition to commercial exhibits, there will be educational displays providing information on current and future conservation technologies. It is great to hear that trade shows are giving this topic so much attention.

Example 2: Big companies sign green agreement
Regarding transparency, I read recently that some major food players signed a ‘green’ agreement. Danisco, Bunge, Nestlé, Green Mountain Coffee Roasters and Tyson Foods have joined a working group that aims to "enable companies and stakeholders to better measure and communicate sustainability progress."

The group says consumers are demanding to be provided with meaningful information about how foods and beverages are produced, and producers need to respond to those demands. The group is set to meet in Brazil in early 2008 to develop guidelines. What we have to expect from this is still not very clear to me, but it all sounds good, especially if major food/feed companies get involved.

Example 3: Dutch go for sustainability
Dutch Agriculture Minister Gerda Verburg also heard the buzz word ‘sustainability’ zooming in her head. She recently said that livestock farming in the Netherlands must become more sustainable by 2023. Main measures include the reduction of ammonia and dust emission by e.g. introducing new type of housing.

The bulk of materials for animal feeds should come from Europe to minimize feed products imports and to help ensure sustainability standards, the Dutch ministry said. However, the extra costs (and who is going to pay for that) needs be taken into account. I am not sure if the Dutch Minister has tought of this as well.

Example 4: Happy shrimps
The last example of sustainable interpretation of the business we work in, is the Happy Shrimp Farm in the port of Rotterdam in the Netherlands. The Happy Shrimp Farm, which is the first tropical shrimp farm in Europe, uses the waste heat from the neighbouring power plant E.ON to heat the shrimp basins to a nice tropical temperate of 30ºC. This saves energy, transportation costs and is therefore more sustainable.

Because shrimp farming is not always in favour of the environment, it is better to produce the (tropical) shrimps locally. And it is even better to cooperate with neighbouring companies to share facilities and products. In the US, a similar construction as the Happy Shrimp Farm is being planned, but instead of a power plant they will use geothermal water from nearby oil wells. 

I hope the coming year(s) will be full of recycling, waste heat reduction, bio energy, local initiatives, efficiency improvement, emission reduction and much more….!

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