In previous articles about coir we’ve shared some insights on its properties and how we make sure our coir is of the highest quality. Make sure to read our second article if you would like to know more about the way our production process ensures growers of the best growing media.
In this final article about this raw material we focus on the environmental impact of the coir used in BVB Substrates products. We focus on water usage during the production process.
Preparing coir for use in growing media takes a lot of water. Water is needed for both washing and buffering coir
When we receive the coir from producers in Asia it has been washed, dried and compressed on site. In order to optimally prepare it for use in substrates we take it to our factory in The Netherlands for expanding, buffering and washing.
Although our suppliers in India also wash coir, they used to do all the buffering as well. Kekkilä-BVB noticed this took up a lot more water than necessary due to their lack of modern production facilities and decided to act on this. By creating an optimised production process in the Netherlands and moving part of the buffering to our own production sites, we make the process more efficient. In addition we limit the environmental impact and save on water used to prepare the coir. For certain types of coir we manage to save up to 30% of water. This also depends on the way our suppliers deliver the raw material to us. Overall, we save about 10% of water used in the entire process.
With our way of processing the coir we not only save on water use; we also make sure to handle used water responsibly by partly reusing it. Kekkilä-BVB can reuse up to 2/3 of water used in the washing and buffering process.
On the harvesting locations the water that’s used for washing and buffering is usually dumped on the plantation. This might not sound like a bad thing, since the trees on the plantation need water, right? Providing the trees with water is beneficial, but the salinity of the soil also rises drastically due to the salts that have been washed out of the coir. This affects groundwater quality and plant growth in the area. It also increases salt content in the new coconuts grown by these trees. This eventually results in an even higher water use to wash the next batch of coir.
In addition, the fine coir particles left in that water form a solid top layer on the soil. This causes a lack of Oxygen in the soil.
It is safe to say that moving part of this water-using process to The Netherlands lowers the environmental impact in India and Sri Lanka.
Read the first article of these series: An agile and thorough coir production process
Read the second article of these series: Saving water in our coir production process