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Keep New Zealand Beautiful

At Z, we reckon it’s important to keep New Zealand beautiful, and we’re working hard to reduce our waste as much as possible.

In our quest to reduce our waste and keep New Zealand beautiful, we’ve installed forecourt recycling bins at more than half of our retail sites across the country. Many of our customers are keen gardeners and like to keep their own piece of New Zealand beautiful too. So to help them, we give away the used coffee grounds from our food and coffee sites to anyone who wants them.

We recycle cardboard, paper, plastic and glass at our sites, and in some places without a collection service available, our Z staff have got right behind our efforts and take the recycling to the depots themselves! We reckon we may well be the largest privately-funded public place recycler in New Zealand.

In the process of operating our more than 210 retail sites across the country, we’ve worked out that each week we recycle around 7 tonnes of cardboard and paper and 2 tonnes of plastic and glass, and around 1 tonne of food waste goes to commercial compost or local pig farmers.

We’ve also worked out that we send about 4 tonnes of waste to landfill each week, which is a 62% reduction from around 10 tonnes per week in 2012.

Our key secret to this success are our Waste Warriors on sites, who compete annually to send the biggest proportion of their sites’ waste to recycling. The winner this year, Ashleigh at Z Rangiora, led her winning team to recycle a whopping 87% of everything that came off her site! Here at Z, we reckon we’re making good progress on our sustainability journey, and while we’ve still got a way to go, we’re committed to being at the heart of the solution, which means we’re always looking for ways to do things even better and reduce the impact that our operations have.

If Z is for New Zealand, Z is also for Keeping New Zealand Beautiful.


Going crazily MAD in Auckland

When senior leaders at Western Gas got together to brainstorm ideas as part of Z’s sustainability competition, the group had no trouble identifying Project Twin Streams as an opportunity to make a real difference in their community.

Z had challenged the 3,000 site staff across its retail network to come up with an idea that highlights what sustainability means to them, as part of an annual competition to uncover original and locally-focused sustainability ideas.

Western Gas, which manages thirteen Z sites across the west Auckland region, has been supporting the Twin Streams project group in its drive to improve water quality in Waitakere streams by re-vegetating 56kms of stream banks with native trees and shrubs. The project area surrounds most of the Western Gas sites, making the project a really good fit with Western Gas’ stand of being crazily MAD (Making A Difference) in their community.

On a very cold, windy and rainy Auckland day in August, a group of Western Gas staff got their hands dirty, helping Community Waitakere plant 200+ native trees in the Henderson Creek area (which, for those that don’t know, is particularly close to Z Bruce McLaren, Z Lincoln Road and Z Massey North).

Although an impressive start, this is just the beginning of the Western Gas team’s commitment, and the group are now working with Project Twin Streams to adopt a specific area to look after.

Photo: Mohammed Ilyas, Shahid Iqbal, Harpreet Singh, Abu Hero, Rajinder Singh, Karam Pal, Arvin Autajay get into planting

Z’s Sustainability Manager, Gerri Ward, says the Western Gas team’s efforts reinforce Z’s incredible site staff and their commitment to sustainability.

“We know our site staff are one of our best assets here at Z, and given they’re out there in the community, we reckon they often have the best local knowledge when it comes to things we could be doing differently.”

“It was great to see the team from Western Gas picking a local project, and one they feel really passionate about.”

Gerri says the company’s competition has been a real success, and has had a great impact in helping Z continue on its sustainability journey.

“At Z, we reckon we’re making good progress on our sustainability journey, and we’re always looking for ways to do things better.

“Based on how well it’s gone this time, we’re looking at holding the competition annually – this will help us to source other original, locally-focussed and scalable ideas from across Z’s retail network.”




Drive yourself to a holiday each year

Last winter, Christchurch-based truck driver Surita Heyden joined Z’s team of ‘eco drivers’ in a challenge to find New Zealand’s most efficient driver.

One year on, Surita, her husband and their daughter have found themselves not only saving money on their fuel costs, but also driving more safely as a result of what they learned through Z’s training.

“We reckon we’ve saved more than $600 in fuel costs over the last 12 months, which is incredible. What’s also been amazing is the influence we’ve been able to have on our family and friends – just sharing the tips we’ve learned, and the money we’ve saved,” says Surita.

Figuring out that the most efficient way to drive isn’t about maintaining a constant speed was an important realisation.

“There was a real ‘a-ha!’ moment for me when I realised that it’s actually about throttle control, and not about travelling at a constant speed. Instead of driving constantly at 100km/h on the open road, which uses a lot of energy, I realised practising throttle control gives me all the momentum I need to get up and over a hill.”

Even though she already considered herself an eco- and safety-conscious driver, Surita is quick to point out that being even more eco-efficient has had its challenges.

“I’ve had to learn to check myself when I’m frustrated – you know, when you just want to floor the accelerator and get away from the slow driver in front of you.

“I’ve learned to be a lot calmer in the car than I was before, because my focus is different now – instead of trying to get from A to B in 10 seconds, for me now it’s about getting from A to B more safely, and while using less energy.”

Driving more defensively, keeping an eye on the hill (or slow vehicle) coming up ahead and adjusting your driving accordingly, are all important not only for being a more efficient driver, but also for being safer on the road.

“The fact that you’re always looking 20 seconds ahead has been great. It gives you a lot more time for decision-making, and means I can comfortably and safely apply the eco-techniques that we’ve learned.

“It’s also given me time to make good decisions – to observe what’s around me, and make better calls as a result. I’ve definitely found myself driving more proactively than reactively.”

Z’s Sustainability Manager, Gerri Ward, says while it may sound counterintuitive for a fuel company to help customers to use less fuel, the eco-driver training was a really natural fit for the company.

“As a kiwi company on the journey to running a more sustainable business, our sustainability programme has to include helping our customers to be able to reduce their own carbon footprint, as well as focusing on our own”, says Gerri. “It was a real buzz seeing how much Surita and the other eco-drivers gained from undertaking the training, and the benefits they’ve seen over the past year”. The proof has been in the pudding for Surita and her family, however, who say the evidence of the fuel – and dollar - savings they’ve made is what’s really driven the changes home.

“When I sat down and worked it out, I thought – I can have another good holiday every year with all the money I’ve saved! That was what really cemented the changes for me personally.”

Eco-drivers Surita Heyden (L) and Z’s Aviation Admin Officer, Christine Parker (R), met during the Z training and still catch up regularly for coffee.


Tourists help with New Zealand’s ‘clean, green’ image

Photo: Matt, from our Christchurch office, and Kevin and Lynne Burns from Z’s ‘Scenic South’ retail cluster.

Tourists arriving in Queenstown can now play their part in maintaining New Zealand’s clean, green image thanks to a recycling pilot which will see degradable bags for recyclable waste put into rental vehicles leaving the region.

The initiative, a partnership between Z Energy and Tourism Holdings (THL), was the winning idea from Z’s recent sustainability competition in which it challenged the 3,000 site staff across its retail network to come up with an idea that highlights what sustainability means to them and their neighbourhoods.

“At Z, we reckon we’re making good progress on our sustainability journey, and we’re always looking for ways to do things better,” says Z’s Sustainability Manager, Gerri Ward.

“Our incredible site staff are one of our best assets here at Z, and given they’re out there in the community, we reckon they often have the best local knowledge when it comes to things we could be doing differently.”

Z’s ‘Scenic South’ retail cluster, led by Kevin and Lynne Burns from Queenstown, submitted the winning idea after experiencing issues with visitors to Queenstown dumping mixed waste rubbish.

“Kevin and Lynne identified an issue with campervans and rental cars, especially those on key tourist routes in the region, dumping bags of non-recyclable rubbish in – or even outside - the forecourt recycling bins at a number of Z stations,” says Gerri.

“Their suggestion – providing tourists with different coloured bags so they could sort their waste inside their vehicles and separate out those recyclables – was a fantastic one, and exactly the kind of thing we were after with this competition.”

For THL, partnering with Z to support the initiative was a natural fit.

“As one of the largest providers of holiday campervans for rent and sale in New Zealand, we thought that enabling visitors to New Zealand to sort their own rubbish by fitting out our campervans and rental vehicles with separate bags was a brilliant idea,” says THL’s Queenstown Acting Branch Manager, Teresa Blanpain.

“Both Queenstown and the Central Otago region in general are tourist hot spots, and areas where a lot of our customers start their journeys, so it seemed like the perfect location to trial the pilot.”

Gerri says the company’s sustainability competition was a hit, with 77 ideas submitted from across Z’s national retail network.

“We reckon we’re going to be able to implement around three quarters of them, which is obviously a great result for Z and for our communities.

“Working with THL to get the separate waste and recycling bags into all of the rental campervans leaving Queenstown from early August is a great start, and we look forward to seeing these pre-sorted bags turning up on our Z sites.”

Z says it plans to hold the competition annually to source other original, locally-focused and scalable ideas from its retail site staff network. 



Inspiring grassroots sustainability

At Z, sustainability is not only about setting ambitious targets, measuring and managing progress; it’s also about inspiring people to get into action on site.

Nigel Andrews, our Retailer in Nelson, is a great example of how a fantastic attitude and empowering leadership can make a real difference to our local environment.

Nigel Andrews runs Z sites in Nelson, Picton, Blenheim and Greymouth and won the Nelsonian of the Year Award for Business in January 2015. 

Nigel’s leadership has empowered and inspired his team to get after sustainability in their own activities. The cluster office has worked with magazine suppliers to reduce the number of deliveries; resulting in over 4,500 less unsold magazines ending up in the recycling bins over the past year.  With an additional concerted focus on waste since last June the team had reduced their general waste charges by a whopping 46% by February this year.

Nigel got in touch last year to see if there were some eco-driving tips he could share with drivers, in order to help them save fuel. We happily shared EECA’s fuel-saving tips brochures with him, which he’s handed out to passing drivers; doing the right thing by the environment, and saving our customers money.

Long-term, effective results aren’t possible without a team effort and Nigel is excellent at getting his staff motivated and supporting them to make a difference.

One great example is Charline Hickesey at Z Grove Road, who has gone out of her way to work with site teams and local community groups to find ways that waste from sites can be re-used or recycled.

“It just makes sense,” says Nigel. “You can help save the environment, save money, and get a better handle on where the inefficiencies are in your business by acting sustainably.”

So, what’s Nigel’s secret to achieving great sustainable outcomes?

“Consistently educating and inspiring your teams, getting them motivated and then providing them with the tools and support to get after great results,” says Nigel.

We reckon that sounds like an awesome recipe for success.


Z’s submission on setting New Zealand’s post-2020 climate change target

In December 2015, countries will meet in Paris to establish a new international climate change agreement under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). An important part of the agreement will be the individual contributions that each country makes to address climate change. Specifically, all countries have been asked to put forward a target to reduce emissions after 2020 as part of their contribution, in advance of the Paris meeting.

The Government has called for submissions on the post-2020 climate change target. The timeframe for consultation was short (2 weeks) and public and business interest in submitting on what New Zealand’s contribution should be has been very high. In short, this is our one chance to influence what the New Zealand Government’s positon should be at international negotiations on climate change, at a critical point on this inarguable global environmental threat.

At Z we believe all parts of the economy have a role to play in reducing our emissions, from government and the public sector to households and the private sector. We believe New Zealand has the opportunity to meaningfully contribute to innovative and constructive solutions to climate change, and to benefit economically from them; locally and globally. Z is committed to being a part of this journey.

You can read Z’s submission here.



29/05/2015 - General

What we do at home

We wondered how committed our office teams were to sustainability at home... So we asked!

We found out that out of 114 Z staff surveyed...





Waste Warriors: Z’s environmental super-heroes

In just two months, Z’s “Waste Warriors” competition has diverted 191 tonnes of waste away from landfill – the equivalent of two Olympic sized swimming pools full of waste.

The annual nation-wide competition is designed to help Z’s service station teams become more aware and motivated to reuse, recycle and compost.

Leading the charge was this year’s Waste Warriors winner, Ashleigh Atkinson, and her team from Z Rangiora, who recycled 87 per cent of their waste over the course of the competition.

In second place was Z Palmerston, and Z Te Puke came in third, recycling 84 per cent and 83 per cent of their waste, respectively.

Z’s Sustainability Manager, Gerri Ward, said that when it came to sustainability, long-lasting behavioural change was what was really needed to make a difference.

“At Z we want to do the right thing by New Zealand, so we’ve made a serious commitment to moving from being part of the problem to being at the heart of solutions around sustainability.

“One of the things we’ve been focused on has been to cut the waste sent from our service stations to landfill by 70%.

“We found that there were already a few people within our retail service station network who were really taking the lead on engaging site staff to try and attain our 70% reduction goal with gusto. 

“We decided to tap into this experience across our network, and leverage our retailers and site teams’ keen sense of competition to get them into action on the ground, where it matters most,” said Gerri.

Over a two month period Z service station sites compete against each other to reduce the amount of waste they send to the landfill, each team led by a sustainability champion within the team vying to be named this year’s Waste Warrior.

This is the second year the competition has run and 54 Z stations joined in.

“A bit of healthy competition can lead to extraordinary results, and we’re so impressed and proud of the efforts of Ashleigh and the team at Z Rangiora.

“Ashleigh was so motivated that she undertook research on plastic recycling herself, and challenged the rest of the staff at Z Rangiora to find alternative uses for those things which couldn’t be recycled through the current systems,” said Gerri.

According to recycle.co.nz, about 2.5 million tonnes of waste is buried in landfills in New Zealand each year.

“Landfills take up precious space and we are running out of places to put them,” said Gerri.

Gerri said New Zealanders can learn a lot from the success of the Waste Warrior programme and the need to transform behaviours if we are going to make a real difference. 

”The massive waste reduction by Ashleigh and her team at Z Rangiora required sustainability to be at the forefront of their thinking and required them to consistently separate food waste, general waste and recycling at their site,” said Gerri.



An everyday hero at Z Palmerston

Z Palmerston – the only service station in town, literally - and Shirley – a quiet everyday hero – make a difference busting waste.

Situated on State Highway One, Palmerston lies 50km north of Dunedin, at the junction of State Highway 85 to Central Otago commonly known as the ‘Pigroot’.  With a population of about 1,000 people, it’s the largest town in the Waihemo Ward of the Waitaki District.

Shirley has been working at Z Palmerston since 2010, and has initiated a number of waste reduction activities on site.

Through her local contacts, she’s found a home for empty oil bottles and soap containers - she drops them off to a garage in the nearby town of Waikouaiti on her way home. They use them to provide chain and bar lube to their customers from their bulk tank.

Paper, bottles, tins and plastics are sorted behind the till through an ingeniously adapted laundry hamper. One side takes the till receipts, while the other side takes tins, plastics or paper. The local recycling centre likes the till receipts separate. 



Z Palmerston is just down the road from a recycling facility. On Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays the forecourt concierge can be seen taking the wheelie bin full of recycling down to the facility to be emptied. 

This good relationship also sees Shirley and the other staff being able to check with the centre as to what can and can’t be recycled at their facility.  For instance, if it crinkles they can’t take it, but sandwich wraps are no problem.

Before they got into gear with recycling, they had three wheelie bins and a great stack of cardboard collected each week. Now they would be lucky to fill one wheelie bin a week. They are currently recycling over 80% of their waste.  What a result for Shirley and the local environment.

In Shirley’s words

“At the end of the day, it’s not hard – you’ve got to put the rubbish somewhere so you might as well put it in the right bin”.

We’re extremely pleased with the leadership Shirley has shown to tackle waste reduction, along with our other Waste Warriors across the country. 


When finding worms in your pies is a good thing

One of Z’s meatiest sustainability goals (we love a good pun!) is to reduce the waste going to landfill from our service stations by 70% by 2015.

In getting after this goal, the first thing we did was implement recycling across the Z service station network. We now have recycling across all of our own operations, as well as public recycling bins on 103 of our forecourts.

A baseline survey in 2012 showed that up to a third of the contents in our skip bins, by weight, was food waste.

A food waste pick-up service is a fairly new and evolving service, and generally only available in more urban centres, and our neighbourhood sites with friendly local pig farmers are happy to keep donating their unsold food (apart from the bacon and egg pies!) to them. But what to do with the unsold pies and sandwiches, and coffee grounds we were throwing away every year?

Steve Rickerby chucked in his job at an insurance company in 2008, and set up We Compost; a network of businesses in Auckland keen to send their food waste to a credible composting facility. Steve started out with one bin on the back of a ute, and now collects more than 500 bins (9 tonnes) of organic waste a week, and delivers it to the EnviroFert facility in Tuakau, where it is turned into organic compost products that are sold to horticultural growers and pastoral farmers to improve the quality and condition of their crops. So far, this year alone, we estimate Z sites have diverted 342 tonnes of food waste from landfill, partly with We Compost’s help.

Z started having our food waste picked up by Steve at 21 retail sites in Auckland and Hamilton, before he decided to consolidate to the Auckland region, where business is booming.

“Partnering with Z gave us a huge boost at a time when we really needed it,” says Steve. “The Z sites increased our collection density in certain areas and helped us justify a push out west. To be able to casually drop into conversation with prospective customers that we collect from around 20 Z sites gives us a huge amount of credibility and has helped to normalise the idea of a 'third' bin. I like to think that the sort of people who go to the cafes we collect from are the sort of people who buy their fuel from Z. So, it is also an important aspect to our positioning in the market and I hope working with us does the same for the Z brand!”

Thanks in large part to a successful partnership with the likes of We Compost, and Kai to Compost in Wellington, we’re now tracking at nearly 85% of the way towards our waste reduction target; and this despite the network growing from 204 stations in 2012 to 213 stations today.