HTA’s impact report celebrates 2021 sustainability achievements

DIDCOT, UK: Inaugural HTA report celebrates a year of achievements across carbon reduction, water resilience, sustainable growing media and plastics in horticulture and encourages more of its members to find opportunities in the sustainable horticulture industry.

As discussions between the international representatives charged with finding ways to tackle climate change draws to a close at COP26 in Glasgow, the UK’s Horticultural Trades Association (HTA) is shining the spotlight on the opportunities for the horticulture industry to contribute to tackling climate change and delivering net zero.

Taking stock of progress made, celebrating the strength of commitment across the industry and looking to the future with positivity have been the themes this week, as the association marks one year since the launch of its Sustainability Roadmap.

Launched in November 2020, the Roadmap was created to give all members the help and assistance they need to ensure that their business can flourish in years to come. On Thursday 11 November, the association published its ‘one year on’ sustainability impact report, setting out the progress made so far towards the Roadmap’s goals, together with details of what HTA members and stakeholders can expect in 2022.

On Wednesday 10 November brought together opinion leaders from horticultural and environmental organisations to collectively examine the opportunities and challenges that sustainability presents for the industry. It concluded that there is real benefit in individual businesses collectively making small changes to make a big difference and together affecting substantive progress as a sector. A ‘white paper’ will be produced early in the new year to develop the themes and issues discussed.

The first industry annual progress report highlights key achievements of the past 12 months such as the cross-industry growing media task force that works together on an agreed action plan for the voluntary removal of peat from horticulture between 2025 and 2028 in bagged growing media in retail, and 2028-2030 for commercial growers. The group were clear that for this ambition to be realised, the necessary volume of alternatives and support for businesses to transition to peat is needed – something the HTA is working with Government on.

HTA and carbon footprint and sustainability specialists Planet Mark have also agreed on a partnership. The collaboration saw HTA members with a combined turnover of £185m and over 6,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions taking part in free workshops – enabling them to get started with sustainability changes in their businesses.

Moreover, HTA has been developing constructive relationships with water companies to drive a better understanding of the industry’s needs, combined with the publication of ‘how-to’ guides for members on implementing water efficiency measures, while the association has also responded to government consultations on proposed packaging and recycling legislation changes, which will overhaul the current system, to ensure the needs of the horticulture sector are recognised.

The year ahead will see an increased focus on collaboration to create meaningful and substantive change across the industry. The HTA will look at ways to connect members with each other to share knowledge and experience, with plans to launch and grow a peer-to-peer business mentoring scheme in 2022 for members. Work on peat and growing media will continue in spring 2022, with a consumer education campaign on responsible and sustainable use of growing media planned for launch in Q1. We’ll be pushing for the horticulture industry to be promoted as a key part of the UK’s ‘Build back greener’ goals for the country.

HTA Chairman James Barnes commented “Taking stock of progress this week has been a useful and positive experience, demonstrating the enormous role our sector plays in tackling climate change and the impact it’ll have on our businesses. There’s a huge appetite amongst people in our sector for building a sustainable future for horticulture.

“The challenges we must overcome and the opportunities it presents us with will play a much bigger part in how we operate than anything else. How we report on that and how we measure that will become even more important, alongside our annual review and financial accounts.

“I look forward to the HTA supporting more of the membership in starting their journey towards building businesses that are sustainable as well as profitable. We’ll continue to work together to support our members and advocate for them in the year ahead. I look forward to seeing our Roadmap plans go from strength to strength.”

The association is encouraging all its members to join the sustainability journey to 2025 and contribute what they can, regardless of the size or type of business.

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