Did you know that The Netherlands has the highest concentration rate of greenhouses in the world? It also makes the Dutch a major buyer of climate screens: an important solution for optimizing the climate in these greenhouses. Ludvig Svensson is a world leader in climate control and energy efficiency through textile-based solutions, but faces a challenge with regards to the end-of-life phase of climate screens. During the Circular Challenge, a team of young professionals will try to give discarded climate screens a new purpose.
“For us, participating in the Circular Challenge is a way to accelerate our transition to become a more sustainable company.” Paul Arkesteijn, Climate Performance Analyst at Ludvig Svensson, explains, “And personally I’m very excited about gaining new insights provided by some fresh new faces!” We talked to Paul and the assigned Circular Challenge team about the potential of this waste stream and their expectations of this challenge.
Photo above: Paul and the CC team
The waste stream: climate screens
Flowers, plants, vegetables and fruit only grow in greenhouses under specific climatic conditions. Using climate screens has many benefits for the climate inside the greenhouse. Things like light, temperature and humidity can be controlled in order to optimize the growing conditions.
“These climate screens are already in itself a sustainable solution for the agricultural sector.” Paul starts off, “By using climate screens, greenhouses save approximately 40% to 50% of their energy. When you’d add up all the energy saved by all the screens we’ve sold so far, that would result in around 2 trillion cubic meters of gas being saved. That’s comparable to 3 nuclear reactors.” he continues.
Despite the fact that the climate screens are a sustainable, energy saving solution, there is room for improvement regarding the end-of-life phase of the screens. “The climate screens in the greenhouses are replaced every 10 years, resulting in a waste stream of tons of old screens per year.” Paul explains, “Our aim is to reuse these used screens as part of a new product.”
The challenge: finding a financially viable solution
“Ultimately, we’d like the team to come up with a financially viable solution for the discarded climate screens,” Paul says, “a product with a working business model that we can put on the market.” Ludvig Svensson has also asked the team to keep in mind that their climate screens are sold in more than 130 countries. So a solution that can be applied on several locations around the globe is considered a bonus!
On top of these requests, the team points out another aspect of this waste stream that makes it even more challenging that they’d initially anticipated: “At first we thought that the climate screens were made of a textile like, for example, cotton,” the team says, “however, we soon found out that the screens are made of polyester and polyethylene. These plastics cannot be returned into the biosphere and thus we needed to think about a way to return it into the technosphere. But that’s not easy!”
Standing at a crossroads
Halfway through the challenge, the team is still in doubt about which direction to go in “We still have a lot of research to do, but for now our thoughts are lingering around two different concepts,” the team says, “we thought about making a dew collector with the screens but we’re also considering making a product that consumers can use for farming at home.”
These ideas are right up Ludvig Svensson’s alley, however, Paul does have some encouraging words: “It’s important that the team first broadens their knowledge on the material before diving into the application,” he says, “nevertheless I’m confident that they will come up with something spectaculair, but to see what that exactly is you’ll have to be a little bit more patient!”
About Ludvig Svensson
Ludvig Svensson is a fourth-generation, family-owned Swedish textile company. With offices around the world, their global experts are always close at hand. Their climate screens are produced in their own production facilities. In the past decades, Ludvig Svensson has revolutionized the horticultural industry with a range of innovative solutions.
Today, their climate screens are sold in more than 130 countries. The Netherlands is – with all its greenhouses – one of the largest markets. Ludvig Svensson’s ambition is to develop better sustainable textile solutions in the long-term that have a positive impact on our own as well as our customers’ consumption of energy and water.
BlueCity Circular Challenge
The BlueCity Circular Challenge offers established companies the opportunity to become acquainted with the circular economy by developing a scalable product from their own waste stream within six weeks. Participants are at the cradle of promising startups and promising innovations.
Does your organization have circular ambitions? Sign up for the next BlueCity Circular Challenge and turn your waste stream into a circular business case! Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or give him a call on 06 82719180.