Recycled packaging idea wins ForFarmers’ sustainable business challenge

By Jane Byrne contact

- Last updated on GMT

Kick-off meeting with students participating in ForFarmers' Sustainable Business Challenge 2019 © ForFarmers
Kick-off meeting with students participating in ForFarmers' Sustainable Business Challenge 2019 © ForFarmers

Related tags: sustainable, biodiversity, Dairy, circular farming, compostable plastic

Twelve Netherlands-based students, participating in ForFarmers’ Sustainable Business Challenge since early November, presented their final ideas on a sustainability case, linked to the circular farming model, on December 13.

The winning team, comprising four students - Esther Snepvangers, Nina Linders, Sylke de Jong and Teun Thyssen - came up with a concept around sustainable packaging and biodiversity.

The majority of ForFarmers’ feed is being transported in bulk to farming customers. But some types of feed, products like Vitamilk targeted at the dairy farming sector, are packaged in feed bags that are equipped with a plastic seal on the inside in order to preserve the quality and shelf-life of the products.

The students suggested replacing the cardboard and plastic used in such feed bags with compostable plastic - bioplastic - and paper. They also proposed that herbal seeds would be embedded in the paper of the bags and used for composting when the bag was empty. That way a dairy farmer, they argued, could use the seeds to grow grassland that is enriched with herbs, thereby enhancing biodiversity.

“An innovative idea that needs further investigation​,” said ForFarmers’ sustainability officer, Anouk Wentink, on behalf of the jury.

The other two student teams also came up with ideas that are potentially feasible, concepts that warrant another look, said the company.

The winning students received what ForFarmers termed ‘a knowledge voucher’, which they can redeem at the compound feed manufacturer how they see fit, either through a discussion about their career with a ForFarmers employee or the HR department, or by accompanying a feed specialist for half a day.

Connecting to students 

ForFarmers said its participation in the Sustainable Business Challenge​ was valuable.

"It provided us with a different way of looking at sustainability,”​ said Wentink. "But above all, it was a fun and effective way of establishing contact with students from different backgrounds; it helps to position our company among students that have a non-agricultural background; that was our main objective in participating in this challenge."

It was one of five companies located in the Netherlands taking part in this initiative this year. The others were airline group, KLM, Dutch rail network player, ProRail, Amsterdam water authority, Waternet, and energy company, Engie.

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