First Test Certifications During the Pilot Phase 

Phase II December 2022 

First Test Certifications During the Pilot Phase 

In autumn 2022, HORTICERT has started the second project phase for the “Development and implementation of an international certification system for peat substitutes”. The project is funded by the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (Bundesministerium für Ernährung und Landwirtschaft, BMEL) and conducted under the supervision of the Agency for Renewable Resources (Fachagentur Nachwachsende Rohstoffe, FNR). HORTICERT is currently being tested for its practical suitability as part of the pilot phase. To carry out the pilot tests, HORTICERT is working with well-known companies from the hobby and professional horticulture sector, which are the first companies (so-called pilots) to be certified on a test basis. In the pilot tests, HORTICERT covers the supply chains of green waste compost, wood fibres, bark humus and coke-based peat substitutes.  

As part of the pilot tests, the production of the final substrates is checked on site at the growing media manufacturers. In addition to the substrate mixing plants, sawmills and compost plants as well as wood fiber plants and bark humus producers that supply the growing media manufacturers with the necessary raw materials are audited.

Furthermore, HORTICERT will travel to South India as part of the pilot phase to test the practicality of the certification system for coconut supply chains together with two coconut fibre producers.  

Each pilot company is audited on-site to check whether they meet the HORTICERT requirements for the sustainability and traceability of the supply chains. As the audits are carried out based on previous risk assessments, not all sustainability indicators must be checked during the audits. Depending on local conditions, some of the HORTICERT sustainability criteria may already be covered by legal requirements for the production site. Accordingly, the producing and processing companies must present documents that prove the sustainable origin of their raw materials. On the other hand, regions with increased risk regarding ecological, social and economic sustainability requirements are verified on-site during the visit of the companies.  

In addition, the individual carbon footprint is calculated for each component and final substrate. This considers, among other things, the use of raw materials, water, energy and fuel consumption of the production facilities, as well as the generation and disposal of waste.  

The results of the pilot tests will then be used to further optimize HORTICERT. The pilot certification of the various peat substitutes with different supply chains and origins means that product- and region-specific challenges for HORTICERT can be taken into account during the optimization process.

The final phase of the project will start at the end of 2023. Then, HORTICERT will go into regular operation and companies will be able to be officially certified. The first products with the HORTICERT seal are expected to be available for purchase in 2024.