Back in June 2016 we launched a call for Dutch SMEs who were interested in participating in the FOOD 2020 project. The FOOD 2020 project is an European project focused in the food industry in the German-Dutch border region. The project aims at having cross-border cooperation of companies with experts and business-oriented research facilities to stimulate for the gradual establishment of a model region for a sustainable food economy in the project area. We were happy by the response of the call since SMEs from the provinces of Friesland, Overijssel and Drenthe became participants of the FOOD 2020 project and recently a couple of others expressed their interest to still join.
Project participants and Ecomatters work
The project participants were SMEs which are part of the FOOD industry with different products and services. Among them are a pumpkin soup producer, a beer brewery, and a seaweed producer. The Dutch SME’s committed to carry out the data collection so that Ecomatters could perform an LCA for them. Despite the fact of the difficulty that data collection entails, the SMEs did a good job providing us with the majority of the data available for them. Ecomatters successfully carried out the LCA modelling and was able to provide the SMEs with the environmental impact of their products. The SMEs had then the task to present the LCA results in a project meeting/workshop.
The project meeting/workshop
On our project meeting/workshop October 26th we met with our partner DiL (Deutsches Institut für Lebensmitteltechnik e.V.) which performed the LCA for the German SMEs as well as with the different Dutch and German SMEs participating in the project. The objective of the meeting was for the SMEs to share their LCA results, insights and overall experience with the project. It was important that the SMEs comprehend how the LCA results help them find hotspots in the life cycle of their products (i.e. how sustainable they are) and also identify alternatives for them to improve the environmental performance of their products. The SMEs did a great job presenting the LCA results and were overall quite happy and satisfied with the project. One of the participant companies who produces soup mentioned that this LCA was just a first step for raising the awareness on where the highest environmental impact of the value chain of her product lies. Overall, they though the project provided them with the valuable opportunity of having a consultancy study the life cycle of their product without putting a financial burden on them.
Recently three more Dutch SMEs, one from Groningen and two from Gelderland, joined the FOOD 2020 project. They are eager to take advantage of this opportunity and to discover the environmental impact of their services and products respectively. At Ecomatters we are happy to expand the knowledge about Life Cycle thinking and to support SMEs in their journey towards a sustainable food economy.