Circular Economy in Practice: the vegetable farm

DEMO 3 applies the business models to the production process of vegetables on a micro-farm (Scilly Organics)  on the island of St. Martin’s (Isles of Scilly, UK). The demonstration was launched in September 2020 and will end in July 2021.

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1. Co-creation

Through  a co-creation process Scilly Organics developed a new product  which is being tested during the demo. Organic apple juice, made from apples which normally would be discarded, was identified as a product that customers would be willing to buy. A survey was also conducted with customers and tourists, to engage them in sustainable practices, as well as to assess their understanding of the new labels for lettuces.

Communicating the sustainability of products is an important issue. In Demo 3 this has been tested through the use of two different labels. The first label indicates the eco-costs of  products, meaning their direct environmental impact,  calculated using  Life-cycle analysis (LCA).

Another label was tested, indicating the carbon footprint of  farm produce (see below) resulting from the Farm Carbon Calculator tool. Scilly Organics has been undertaking carbon footprint assessments  for the last 10 years and has been carbon negative since then. This means they sequester far more carbon in biomass and soils than they emit through everything else.

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The customer survey is also part of the co-creation activities in which the projects’ concepts are tested with relevant stakeholders. The input  received from consumers is directly fed into the development of the DEMO, which is then  adapted accordingly. The results of the survey will shortly be available.

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2. Collaborative reuse & recycling

With regards to collaborative reuse & recycling, Scilly Organics is examining how waste can be further sorted at the micro farm and appropriately recycled, in particular with regard to farm plastics.  On the farm, organic waste is recycled by turning it into compost, which in turn is reused to fertilise the land. Organic waste recycling systems have been put into place for:

 

  • Paper and cardboard

  • Hard plastics

  • Metals

  • Batteries, tyres and electrical items

The only packaging which cannot be recycled at the moment on the farm is the plastic packaging used for lettuce. These are made from LDPE plastic and currently not easily recyclable. Scilly Organics is testing alternatives like plant based plastics, as these are 100% compostable. This option is currently undergoing trials.

 

Scilly Organics has done extensive survey work with their business customers, working with them on improving the environmental and social impacts of their own businesses and in particular on their waste practices. This work is ongoing.

3. Sustainable consumption

Producing the food we eat makes up a significant part of our carbon and ecological footprint. However, there are real opportunities in farming, growing and the food system to minimise these impacts.

 

Scilly Organics  has undertaken a comprehensive assessment of their management and practices, through a carbon footprint report and a Life Cycle Analysis – encompassing both the environmental impacts and social impacts (see below for more on the social sustainability).

4. Social LCA

The Social LCA of Scilly Organics found that the company scores well on its treatment of employees, including on gender pay gap, paying a fair salary and on health and safety issues.  It outperforms the industry average on each of these issues in 11 of the 24 indicators evaluated, including by 23% on equal opportunities and 18% on health and safety.

 

As a small business that cares about its workforce, Scilly Organics values this study as a confirmation of its positive approach to people and the community which it serves. It is within the company's interest to continue to improve its Social LCA because a happy and healthy workforce is more productive, loyal and a greater asset to the company.

 

Furthermore, Scilly Organics’ reputation is of great importance within a small community where a connection with customers is  intrinsic.

 

For more information about Scilly Organics, please visit: www.scillyorganics.com