Soil from coconut waste can substitute all very unsustainable peat moss used. Proflora searches for new product ideas using our coconut soil blends. The 3 to 5 best solutions will receive 5% of net income when selected for production.
Proflora has developed a creative way to use waste from the coconut industry to produce soil that is ideal for planting flowers, herbs, vegetables etc. The soil is combined with natural ingredients and customized for specific types of plants, so that each plant has the right nutrients to grow well and stay healthy.
This new coco-soil can be used as a substitute for all peat moss based soils and help to preserve Europe’s valuable wetlands. Wetlands store massive amounts of CO2 and serve as diverse and important ecosystems.
Proflora is now searching for ways to combine various seeds with customized coconut soil blends and create product ideas to suit European markets. This is to be sold as a new, more sustainable, system for home and urban gardening as well as horticulture. Optionally, coco-soil and seeds can be combined with Proflora’s coconut fibre-based biodegradable plant pots.
Proflora wants you to come up with innovative ideas about how the new product should look, be packaged, marketed and communicated to different target groups. Proflora will grant 5% license fees on the sale price to all inventors / designers whose solutions are selected for production at the end of the challenge.
THE ENVIRONMENTAL PROBLEM
Peat moss production destroys precious wetlands. Wetland ecosystems are a crucial part of Europe’s biodiversity. They provide ideal conditions for a vast array of habitats and species. Wetlands capture CO2 and reduce levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. They store more carbon than any other terrestrial ecosystem and more than all the world's trees combined. This is roughly equivalent to half the CO2 currently stored in the atmosphere. In peat moss production these wetlands are drained and the peat (turf) is extracted releasing massive amounts of CO2. Wetlands destroyed for peat most harvesting are responsible for 6% of all CO2 emissions caused by human activity worldwide1.
USING A WASTE MATERIAL FROM THE COCONUT INDUSTRY
The consumption of coconut water and flesh has grown in the tropical world and elsewhere. Also coconut fibres are used traditionally for useful products like floor mats, doormats, brushes, and mattresses. The major waste material left predominantly unused by the industry is the fibre dust, which Proflora now uses to produce soil. For transportation the soil is compressed into a granulate, thus reducing transportation weight and volume. When water is poured on the granulate it expands back to its original volume and quality and becomes a perfect growing medium.
SUSTAINABLE ALTERNATIVE TO PEAT
The coconut based soil developed by Proflora is a much more sustainable alternative to peat moss that works far better.
This product can be considered environmentally sustainable when the coconut fibre dust is used to substitute other less sustainable products like peat moss. Coco-soil can substitute all soils using peat moss and regrows quickly. Coconuts regrow three times a year, while it takes 1000 years to rebuild one squared meter of peat moss2. Coco-soil is CO2 neutral. That means the plant consumes as much CO2 while growing as is emitted when the coco-soil degrades. In contrast the extraction of peat moss contributes heavily to climate change. Transporting coco-soil by ship has much lower impacts than peat moss harvesting. The transportation of coco-soil happens in compressed bulk packages via freight ship. Also a lot of peat moss is imported to Europe from as far as Canada. For instance only 50% of peat moss consumed in Germany is local the rest is imported.
The social sustainability of the project lies in adding value in the country of origin (e.g. Sri Lanka) by generating secure income for communities working in the coconut sector. Your solutions will support the socio-economic development and quality of life in these regions.
Proflora already produces products from coconut waste including coco-soil and plant pots. They have developed the practice of mixing the soil with natural ingredients that are beneficial to specific types of plants. What they now need is excellent ideas on how to market the soil granulate, combined with seeds (optional) and with coco fibre plant pots (optional) to different market segments in Europe.
Proflora has a registered trademark called: biogro (Registered Trademark in Germany), which will be used as the trade brand, but alternative names can be suggested for new products.
Thus the challenge is to develop solutions on
- What the product system should include (e.g. soil granulate, seeds, pots and other things - like a booklet, a little planting tool, etc.),
- What it should look like (e.g. one coco-fibre pot with soil granulate and seeds included already, a tray with soil and seeds, a bag with soil and a bag with seeds separately, compressed seed bomb like units in a box etc.),
- Where it should be distributed (do-It-Yourself stores, flower shops, supermarkets, online stores etc.),
- How it should be packaged (reduced/ biodegradable packaging is better!),
- How it should be marketed and communicated (story telling is essential!),
- To which audiences (home gardeners, balcony gardeners, urban gardeners, seed bomb throwers etc.) and,
- Name suggestions (under the trade brand biogro).
Please also develop further ideas for different communication and educational options e.g.:
- Education/ knowledge transfer, conserve/ develop knowledge on how to grow plants in schools and kindergartens,
- Guerrilla marketing and seed bombs,
- Urban gardening including capacity building, community building,
- Typical gardeners are 45 plus years old, which strategies can tackle younger generations?
The best solutions will be selected by an expert jury, crowd voting, and the Proflora team supported by the facilitators of the innonatives platform. The appointed external experts are:
- Arne Svinningen/ Green Farms, Sri Lanka
- Dr. Joshua Fenn Suresh, Naruveli Ventures, India
The best (three to five) solutions will be considered by Proflora for production and integrated into Proflora’s product range. The winning designer / inventor or team of designers / inventors of the solutions produced and sold by Proflora will recieve payment by Proflora of 5% of Proflora's net income per each product sold. Payment will be done on a monthly basis.
Challenge starts November 1st 2014 and finishes end of February 2015
- Phase 1: Ideas: by end of December 2014
- Phase 2: Solutions by mid February 2015
- Winners announced: end of February / early March 2015.
1Romberg. Kokosfaser, die nachwachsende Alternative. Romberg, 2010.
2Kaiser, M. Torffreire Blumenerde “Der Mörder ist immer der Gärtner”. Oko-Test, 2012.