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Sustainability

Ecological responsibility is our job


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Organic farming and the protection of the environment go hand in hand. Ecological agriculture, by definition, intends to strengthen and conserve natural resources for the generations to come. That is why all the companies formed by the BIOG cooperative since 1989 have established as their objective not only supporting organic farming but also, in a general fashion, ensuring the use of natural resources. This concerns not only the energy sector, but also all the raw materials, the amount of land, and the quality of the soils, water and air, as well as the natural diversity of the species of the animal and plant world.

Our value creation chain is, in a literal sense, a cycle, or even a double cycle, since the production of organic food relies on raw materials coming from the natural cycle supported by organic farming, and it forms part of the cyclical economy of the OIKOPOLIS group. No example similar to this particularity exists in other production contexts:

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The responsible management of natural resources is self-evident for our companies working with organic farming, even outside the fields and the farm. Several measures are representative of a global concept.

Préservation of natural resources and more

We have detailed, in several brochures, the way in which BIOGROS, NATURATA and Others act responsibly, mindful of the future. You can download them here or pick up a printed copy in your favourite NATURATA store. You will find a quick overview here:

Green construction

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Our technicians plan, construct and renovate with respect for the environment: for building lighting, both inside (sales floor and store room, break rooms and offices) and outside (car parks, signage), we use LED technology only. The chiller cabinets are closed and their lost heat, like that of the large refrigerated warehouses, is transferred to an innovative heat system through the soil via heat exchangers. The overall concept of our home automation technologies and sustainable and green construction techniques has already been awarded several environmental prizes at national and international level.

Buying green

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It is not just in construction projects that we use energy-saving technologies and sustainable materials. The same goes for the back office because, when it comes to both office automation and paperwork, we are mindful of the sustainability of the products – free from solvents and plasticisers or made from renewable raw materials, for example. We therefore apply the following principles.

  • As little paper as possible! If we do use paper, then we only use recycled paper that comes from sustainable forest management and carries the German Blauer Engel (blue angel) label.
  • Cardboard rather than plastic
  • If plastic is used, it is always organic, that is, without mineral oil, and made from renewable raw materials

Eco-voucher

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Since 2017, NATURATA till receipts have been “green”... even if they look rather grey. This innovative thermal paper is Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified, doesn't require any chemical colour developer, is suitable for food and can be archived. By grouping information, we save space and therefore paper – by the metre!

Tackling food wastage

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The value chain in organic and biodynamic farming is also a valorisation chain – from raw materials to the members of the chain who make real values from it, through to the end result, in harmony with nature. Not inadvertently wasting these “basic essentials” is an important objective for us. To achieve this objective, we adopt the following solutions.

  • Zweet Chance: imperfectly shaped or bruised fruit and vegetables, tiny eggs, yesterday’s pastries, or dairy produce close to its use-by date are too valuable to end up in the bin. So an orange label informs NATURATA customers that these quality products are available at a reduced price.
  • Staff discount: any unsold items are offered to our staff at the symbolic price of 1 euro per crate.
  • Processing: the BIOGROS Cuisine Artisanale is also a “grateful customer”, for example for ripe vegetables, which it reduces into BIOG brand soups.
  • Donations: we regularly donate to Cent Buttek unsaleable fruit and vegetables, whose “inner qualities” outweigh their outer defects. At the association’s four sites, volunteers distribute free organic food to people in need or make jams, soups and sauces out of it.
  • Biogas: foodstuffs that cannot be saved for consumption – even using the measures above – together with the organic waste from our restaurants, bistros and processing kitchens, are collected and sent to a BIOG farmer. In their methane plant, they produce energy that they will use in their own operation.
  • ECOBOX: the NATURATA Resto & Café as well as the bistros in its branches participate, of course, in the Ecobox system, which allows diners to take away food orders or uneaten meals in returnable recyclable packaging.

Product packaging

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Obviously, we encourage the recycling of waste, in particular when we ourselves put packaged products into circulation. As with tackling food wastage (see above), we adopt several solutions to avoid packaging waste.

  • Valorlux system: BIOG, BIOGROS and NATURATA are members of the national Valorlux system of recovery and recycling (“Blue Bags” and collection of used glass and paper) and support it by paying contributions according to the volume of packaging put into circulation. That said, we have our own solution for used glass.
  • Our own solution: in a spirit of producer responsibility, NATURATA cooperates internationally with natural food stakeholders through its own system of deposit and return reserved for bottles and glass (yoghurt) pots. Our customers greatly appreciate this system, and have done for years.
  • Our own packaging: BIOGROS acts not only as carrier and distributor of organic products from various producers, but also as processor of BIOG brand products. Again, the subject of packaging plays a key role. Packaging is not always superfluous. This is sometimes due to the production processes, but often it is because of hygiene or labelling rules. In fact, the mandatory information required by the EU must appear on a card. We favour biodegradable packaging materials whenever their use is reasonable and possible. To find out more on this subject, see the OIKOPOLIS 2018 sustainability report. For the abridged version, see OIKOPOLIS News, n°15 (Sustainability special edition, see the download options in the margin). A practical fold-out (cf. ibid.) also provides information on the NATURATA sustainable packaging options.
  • Selling items loose: at the NATURATA Bio-Marché in Merl, we launched a pilot project in 2016 for selling items loose: 25 types of self-serve dry goods for customers to put in paper bags or in containers brought from home.

Learn more about packaging at NATURATA and about the packaging of BIOG products

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Waste prevention

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Both internally and externally we want to avoid waste and, where it is inevitable, we act according to the slogan “Waste is also a resource” and we incorporate it into the appropriate recycling loops. That is why, on each of our sites, one person is responsible for waste management and, in the OIKOPOLIS centre, another is in charge of coordinating this activity. Together, they ensure...

  • that waste is sorted in the kitchens and break rooms: at least a dozen types of recyclable waste are collected there separately, then introduced into the corresponding recycling loops. We have been awarded the SuperDrecksKëscht fir Betriber quality label for the ecological management of our waste, presented by the Luxembourg Ministry of Sustainable Development and Infrastructure in partnership with the Chamber of Guilds and the Chamber of Commerce;
  • that recyclable waste from office materials and construction materials is sorted and sent away (including light bulbs, etc.).

Renewable energy

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  • On principle, we reject nuclear energy and fossil fuels. All our companies buy electricity that comes exclusively from renewable sources (hydroelectric and/or wind, at the discretion of our energy suppliers).
  • The green roof of the OIKOPOLIS centre is fitted with a large photovoltaic installation.
  • Through OIKOPOLIS Participations, we hold shares in the company Hëpperdanger Wandenergie sàrl which, in turn, holds a quarter of the shares in the company Hëpperdanger Wandenergie SA and, together, they run the second largest wind farm in Luxembourg.

Staff mobility with respect for the environment

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  • Car sharing is taken into account when planning of our teams’ shifts. Parking spaces are reserved for those of our staff who come to work by car share. Those using public transport receive a transport allowance.
  • The OIKOPOLIS employees who work in the centre at Munsbach, including senior managers, use car sharing because the company cars available are small shared e-cars. In summer 2020, two additional electric vehicles have been purchased for company internal journeys. These electric cars are recharged exclusively by means of the green energy contract that we have taken out. The customers of the OIKOPOLIS Centre can also use the parking spaces reserved for electric cars, as well as the recharging points.

Transport that respects the environment

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In September 2020, BIOGROS has expanded ist fleet with a new E-Truck, the first one in Luxembourg. Moreover, we received the Lean & Green 2Stars-Award at the first go thanks to the restructuring and the optimisation of our logistic processes. The price is given to logistic companies to reward their efforts in reducing CO2 emissions.

For delivery purposes, we mainly use rental vehicles. This allows us to distance ourselves from obsolete environmental standards, but solely for cost reasons. The owner of our fleet works to ensure the best possible compromise between the protection of the environment and food safety, even for the energy-intensive refrigerated lorries.

We only resort to air transport when our customer demand is heavy and the shelf life of the fruits is short. Otherwise, we prefer transport by boat or by overland route, because the European production zones and the Mediterranean countries have absolute priority over the transcontinental routes. Here, too, we still need to redo the calculations. In fact, the ecological impact of an apple of European origin stored for several months in a climatic chamber is sometimes worse than that of a fruit freshly harvested in the southern hemisphere and freighted to meet local needs in winter.

CO₂ internal discipline and offsetting

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We record all the impacts of our group’s activities on the environment, and a software program allows us to convert these into CO₂ equivalents. The analysis of the results (documented annually since 2008) helps to identify new optimisation potential. Moreover, the result of this carbon audit serves as a basis for calculating the compensatory payment that we have been making voluntarily since 2012.

With 20 euros per tonne of CO₂ equivalent, we specifically support institutions that encourage the spread of organic farming in Luxembourg and Europe. We thus deliberately set ourselves apart from the customary international procedures in terms of offsetting the carbon footprint – both through the sum of our compensatory payment per tonne of CO₂ equivalent and through our focus on local activities as part of tackling climate change. This is an attitude motivated by the genuine effort of allowing populations directly affected by atmospheric pollution to benefit from this fight.

For the 7th time, the OIKOPOLIS Group made voluntary compensation payments for their energy consumption. The basis for those payments is the calculation of the total consumption of each building and each journey made by BIOGROS or by an employee by the means of a systematic developed by experts several years ago. In 2019, the total amount of energy consumption of the entire Group reached a level of 1.597 tons of CO2 equivalents. Despite overall growth, the Group was able to record a reduction in its CO2-emissions in comparison to 2017,- this shows, that a conscious and responsible energy management pays off.

Same as the previous years, the compensation money is paid to organisation that engage in organic agriculture, which generally binds, as commonly known, carbon into the soil. This year, the OIKOPOLIS Group is donating 22.5, instead of the usual 20 , per ton, in order to outbalance the reduced energy consumption. Consequently, the total sum of the voluntary compensation payments for the period 2019 amounts to 35.931 . The proven institutions „Vereenengung fir Bio-Landwirtschaft Lëtzebuerg“, “IBLA“ and the section for agriculture at the Schweizer Goetheanum in Dornach are each donated 11.977 € by the subsidiaries NATURATA, BIOGROS and OIKOPOLIS Services, in order to support provable eco-friendly exploitation methods.

The symbolic cheque ceremony took place on the 4th of September. (f.l.t.r.: Sigmund Walbaum/NATURATA, Dr. Stéphanie Zimmer/IBLA, Änder Schanck/OIKOPOLIS Participations, Patrick Kolbusch/BIOGROS, Daniela Noesen/Bio-Lëtzebuerg)

04 09 2020 CO2 Scheck alle WEB
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