Many of Kekkilä-BVB R&D projects are done to introduce new raw materials, materials that will improve the substrate performance in many ways. To choose the most potential projects to proceed with, as well as for following the optimal development model, R&D criteria were revised by the end of 2019 as part of the Sustainability Roadmap.
The structure for our R&D projects is adopted from both BVB and Kekkilä processes and made into clear steps, where we start with background desktop studies and end in a laboratory environment doing tryouts with physical materials. All R&D projects start with the important question, ´Is the material safe?´. After that, we define crucial physical, chemical and biological properties, focusing on real benefits for the grower.
Towards a “total” sustainable growing media
To R&D sustainable validation checks in our R&D program is nothing new. But – using a specific checklist of various sustainability measures that has to be checked in process – makes the process even more understandable in everyday communication. As the “total” sustainability of growing media is mainly built up by the specific impact factors of each raw material component used, it is essential to include this viewpoint from the very beginning of the development work.
The checklist focuses mainly on measuring environmental impact, e.g the idea with using recycled material to replace virgin material is one criteria (side and waste streams) and get biobased material to replace fossil or mineral based materials is another. Besides the environmental impact, we have also tried to include social and economic sustainability measures. For example, if a new raw material can improve safety at factories or at growers by replacing some more harmful component, it gets “social points” in evaluation. Or, if we can provide growing media that help the grower to produce a certain amount of crop with lower cost, we improve the economical sustainability.
New criteria are now in test stage in our R&D projects of Innovation and Product Chain organization. They are revised a couple of times during this year, based on experiences and new information from our organization. More to come!