2_4_DiscoverBenelux_13_Januar_2014_MADS_Scan Magazine 1 17/12/2014 15:23 Page 59
Discover Benelux | Business | Entrepreneurship in the Benelux
sauna, beauty and wellness treatment areas plus a dance club. Unlike other properties owned by Center Parcs, Tropicana did not have accommodation and was sold in the early 1990s. People continued to use the pool and its slides until 2010, when the attraction was closed. In 2013 the go-ahead was given for Tropicana to be used by local entrepreneurs. The terrace was re-opened as a café-bar, making use of loungers and seating left behind and recycled from the building’s previous incarnation. The concept has subsequently been developed further and Aloha now also incorporates a restaurant and a landscaped, sub-tropical park featuring indoor plants. The premises are also the head office of Kromkommer (‘crooked cucumber’), a company promoting the use of misshapen fruit and vegetables; products that are usually rejected by shops because they do not meet the exacting aesthetic expectations which modern society places on food products. Kromkommer found that produce such as double-legged and twisted carrots
was being discarded as waste, despite being perfectly edible. The company produces soups and organises initiatives to distribute and sell misshapen farm produce.
site, from which plastic bags hang riddled with white fungal growth. Oyster mushrooms protrude from holes. Around 7,500 kilos are harvested annually.
Recycling waste for profit
Each bag is good for two or three mushroom harvests then becomes part of the 4,000 to 5,000 tonnes of compost produced by Rotterzwam each year. The company sells its compost back to the city, helping plants around the municipality to grow. This isn’t Rotterzwam’s only byproduct. “Mushrooms break down the coffee grinds with enzymes. We extract them and sell these enzymes back to the water and sewerage companies who have waste. You can make biofuel from that waste. The yield of the biofuel will rise 20 per cent with enzymes, so they become more profitable,” says Slegers. The entrepreneur believes that exchanging ideas in an open source manner is an effective means of spreading the popularity of the blue economy concept and changing how people think while benefitting the environment. “Nature makes no waste. If you look at nature and learn how it works you can make a profit,” he says.
In order to create the ideal base for growing mushrooms, Rotterzwam mixes waste from coffee beans, discarded during roasting, with the used grinds. “The mushrooms break down the chemicals in the coffee, so you don’t get the taste; they taste of normal oyster mushrooms,” says Slegers. There’s also a practical reason why Rotterzwam keeps their operation local and collects grinds frequently. “If you have coffee grinds older than five days you have other fungus in it and you have to sterilise it, so that introduces energy costs,” says the company director. Tropicana’s erstwhile changing rooms house the various phases of Rotterzwam’s operations, from the preparation of the substrate to mushrooms that are about to be harvested. Slegers shows off discarded clothes hangers, which he found on the
Issue 13 | January 2015 | 59
Promoting Belgium, The Netherlands and Luxembourg.