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From 2024, the European Euro Plant Tray standard will be available for supply to garden centers and DIY stores. Interview with Dirk Bansemer, managing director of EPT GmbH, to find out about this new project that thinks big.
It all started by asking a simple question, “How green is the green sector?” It almost sounds like a play on words, and yet, in Germany alone 150 million disposable plant trays are used each year, which corresponds to 21 million kilograms of plastic waste per year. These figures have encouraged companies in the industry to do something to change the situation.
So on August 23, 2022 in Cologne, wholesale trade organizations BGI e VGB , the wholesalers FleuraMetz/FM Group , mvb Plants Worldwide Marktverband Bremen GmbH e Sagaflor , as well as the companies OBI, BAUHAUS and Hornbach founded Euro Plant Tray eG (EPT). Subsequently, Dehner Gartencenter GmbH & Co. KG, Euroregionales Pflanzen Servicecenter EPS GmbH, Intermarkt Thielen Vertriebs GmbH, Südblume Vertriebs GmbH, Globus Fachmärkte GmbH & Co.KG, the Swiss Coop Genossenschaft and many others also joined the EPT.
Since the origins of the project, members have been developing the details of the market launch. In spring 2023, two tray models were tested in different supply chains, from manufacturers to wholesalers to final sale through different channels.
Specifically, in six supply chains in Germany and the Netherlands, two trays from different manufacturers were used and evaluated for 10-11 cm and 10.5-12 cm pots, respectively, at all stages of the supply chain. More than 10 growers, 6 wholesalers, Royal FloraHolland and more than 50 retail outlets were involved.
As of mid-May, an evaluation of the trays was made regarding a number of criteria: handling, general condition, and aesthetics at the point of sale. In June 2023, a cooperative meeting finally decided which trays will be launched on the market from January 2024. Euro Plant Tray is an ambitious project that aims to expand throughout Europe.
So we asked ETP GmbH managing director Dirk Bansemer a few questions.
When did the Euro Plant Tray project take shape?
It all started in 2021 when Deutsche Umwelthilfe DUH (Germany’s environmental agency) invited 80 participants from the green sector to answer the question, “How green are you?” DUH estimated that 500-700 million trays are used by the industry each year. Based on the discussions and realizing the amount of waste produced, the group decided to collaborate and work on a joint solution. By the middle of 2022, EPT eG was established to take the first steps, and in July 2023, EPT GmbH was launched as an operating unit, in concrete terms, to enter into rental contracts with users. Also in the future, strategic decisions will be made within the eG.
Since its inception, what have been its most important achievements?
Definitely development related to the first two trays to be introduced: the EPT 400 Indoor (for pot size 12 cm) and the EPT 400 Universal (pot size 10-13 cm). But not only that. Also the Decision on which rental mode to use (1,3,5 and 10 years), the start of development of the EPT 200 series, which will also be introduced to the market by the end of 2024, the willingness to Equip all containers with RFID (alongside QR and barcode) to be ready for the future and support all possible registration configurations that exist in our industry today and tomorrow.
Which countries are already part of it? And which one would you like to include?
Germany, the Netherlands, Austria, Switzerland, France and Norway are on board. Since we are working on a European industry standard, all members from any country are welcome! Membership offers some financial benefits for using the trays, but it also offers the opportunity to participate in working groups, decide strategic steps at the general meeting, and even become a candidate for positions on the board and supervisory board.
What was the feedback on the trays in testing?
The 400 series was tested this spring in several supply chains throughout Europe. We collected feedback from all stages of the chain: growers, wholesalers, retailers, auctions. The trays were tested relative to their adherence to the vessels, but also their stability, safety in handling, water distribution, etc. Because of this feedback, we went back to the suppliers and adapted the development. In fact, the current test of the 200 series is easier because the general supply chain test on flows has already been performed and we have already accumulated experience. We still organize workshops with participants from all stages of the chain and hand-test how the pots match the trays.
What do you expect from 2024?
The start of production of EPT 400 and EPT 200 series trays, the arrival of members and consequently new hires for 2025 and in the current year. As the EU is currently putting the finishing touches on PPWR (Packaging and Packaging Waste) legislation, we anticipate that many companies will want to prepare for the future, and we are there to help them in their efforts. In addition, although we currently have 9-13 cm pot trays, the market in Italy-especially for export-starts at 14 cm. We want to think about creating more sizes starting in 2025!
The EPT 400 Indoor is specially designed to provide safe customer transportation of heavy indoor plants such as orchids and bromeliads. Any plant grown in a 12-cm pot can be transported and presented in EPT 400 Indoor.
Length: 562 mm – Width: 253 mm – Weight: 450 g – Label size: 45 x 16 mm – Material: polypropylene
The EPT 400 Universal carries 8 to 10 plants in 10.5 to 13 cm pots. This allows a wide range of use and increases efficiency within the supply chain.
Length: 562 mm – Width: 253 mm – Height: 75 mm – Weight: approx. 520 gr – Label size: 45 x 16 mm – Material: polypropylene
Equipped with serial barcode, individual 2D Datamatrix code and corresponding RFID tag, Euro Plant Trays offer all the technical possibilities for automatic registration and stock management.
etp 200 test series
The ETP 200 plant tray being tested.