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Z makes progress towards reducing New Zealand’s reliance on fossil fuels

Z’s efforts to reduce New Zealand’s reliance on fossil fuels have reached a milestone with the installation of a biodiesel distillation column at New Zealand’s first commercial scale biodiesel plant in Wiri, Auckland.

The plant, which will move into the testing phase early next year, will turn inedible tallow, a by-product of the New Zealand meat industry, into 20 million litres of biodiesel a year, with the potential to scale production up to 40 million litres a year.

Z’s General Manager of Supply and Distribution, David Binnie, said that the biodiesel distillation column is a sophisticated piece of kit which will ensure a highly refined, pure finished biodiesel.

“The ability to refine the biodiesel by distillation enables us to use a plentiful local resource to produce high quality biodiesel that exceeds New Zealand’s biodiesel specifications,” said David.

David said that as a New Zealand company, Z believed it had a backyard worth looking after.

“Fuel burned for transportation makes up around 17 per cent of New Zealand’s greenhouse gas emissions.

“This means Z is currently part of the climate change problem, and we’re not comfortable with that.

“We want to instead be at the heart of the solution.

“It will take time, but this $26 million investment is a step towards reducing New Zealand’s reliance on fossil fuels,” said David.

David said that Z invested in this plant, even in the absence of a government incentive, because it was important to Z to do the right thing, and also important to many of their large commercial customers who have been increasingly asking for lower carbon options.

“We believe this plant to be a world first – we cannot find evidence of anywhere else in the world where a commercial scale biofuels plant has been built without a grant or other government incentive such as a mandate or tax incentives.

“What has enabled us to be bold enough to invest in this venture has been the commitment from some of our large commercial customers, such as Fonterra, who are trying to find ways to reduce their own carbon emissions. 

“This is an example of New Zealand companies working together to make a difference to our own backyard,” said David.


Fonterra’s General Manager of National Transport and Logistics, Barry McColl, said the Co-operative is pleased that its commitment is helping Z to bring this capability to New Zealand while reducing its own emissions.


“Fonterra is committed to reducing environmental impacts across all of our operations. Transporting more than 18 billion litres of milk around the country every year requires a lot of hours on the road – our fleet travels more than 90 million kilometres over the year – so we’re hugely supportive of initiatives like this that help to reduce our emissions.”


David said that Z’s B5 biodiesel blend (up to five per cent biodiesel blended with ordinary diesel) works across commercial, industrial and retail diesel vehicle fleets.


“Z’s B5 biodiesel is a ‘drop in’ fuel that doesn’t require customers to do anything differently with their diesel vehicles because it meets the same strict fuel specifications as ordinary diesel,” said David.


Z’s biodiesel will be available to customers in the Auckland, Bay of Plenty and Waikato regions towards the middle of 2016.


Z launches Sustainability Code of Conduct for suppliers

Z’s purpose is to solve what matters for a moving world. At Z, we reckon sustainability matters and we’re committed to acting in a way that benefits the future of the communities we operate in and the planet that carries us all, while at the same time sustaining a long term future for our business.

We want to engage with suppliers who share these commitments. The objective of Z’s Supplier Code of Conduct (SCOC) is to set clear expectations of all our suppliers regarding sustainability, providing a framework for meaningful and collaborative partnerships that ultimately work to increase efficiency and reduce our operational environmental impact together.

You can read our SCOC by visiting the Sustainability Code of Conduct for Suppliers page on our website. You can also watch Gerri, Z's Sustainability Manager, explain how the Code of Conduct will work with this video.


Good times at Goodtime

Sometimes, when it comes to being a leader in the sustainability space, you need to take a step back in order to be able to charge forwards.

A few of our South Island-based retailers noticed that the pies being delivered to their sites were wrapped in boxes, which were then delivered in more boxes. The bad news is, that meant a lot of wastage. The good news is, that meant our retailers and site staff were noticing the wastage and were bothered enough by it that they thought to raise the issue with us!

We contacted our friends at Goodtime Pies, who make the delicious Z pies you see in our stores. Goodtimes’ Managing Director, Phil Pollett, reckoned having cartons inside cartons seemed a bit mad to him, too, and he decided to take action. They now deliver pies in recycled plastic crates, which are re-used every time.

“The change has resolved more than just the sustainability issue, as we realised the second carton was creating a second layer of cardboard which was insulating the product and making it harder to get it properly cold,” said Phil.

“It also prevented our drivers from double-checking the deliveries as they do elsewhere in the country. 

“Taking action definitely resulted in wins all round, and we were pleased to hear the feedback from Z – it’s nice to know we're on the right track.”

Anton Hutton, one of Z’s Christchurch retailers, loves the idea.

“This change saves about 600 boxes per week or 31,000 boxes per year for our 16 sites alone. What a huge resource saved for a small change!”

Well done, Phil and team – we reckon this is a fantastic change, and we look forward to more good times ahead!


Annual GRI Review

Last year for our 2015 Annual Report we used the GRI (Global Reporting Initiative) Aspects and Indicators framework for the first time. For those that aren’t familiar with GRI, the framework basically gives companies the ability to select the things that really matter to their stakeholders, and then to accurately report against those using an international series of reporting aspects and initiatives.

We received some excellent feedback on our Annual Report last year, including recognition in the Towards Transparency, Best-practice sustainability reporting in New Zealand 2015 Report, and we are looking to continue using the GRI framework in order to make sure our future Annual Reports cover off the things that really matter to our stakeholders.

To make sure we’ve got it right, some of the team here at Z took a look at the aspects we reported against last year, and we’re thinking about making a few changes.

As our stakeholders, we want to hear from you to know what you think. Does the list below cover off the things you’d expect to see from Z? Is there anything missing that you’d like to see covered off?

Please flick us an email with your thoughts to: sustainability@z.co.nz

What Matters GRI Aspect Indicator  
World class Kiwi company Economic performance EC1 Direct economic value generated and distributed  
  Compliance SO8 Monetary value of significant fines and total number of non-monetary sanctions for non-compliance with laws and regulations new
Options for the future Economic performance EC2 Finanical Implications and other risks and opportunities for the organisation's activities due to climate change
  Fossil Fuel Substitutes OG14 Volume of biofuels produced and purchased meeting sustainability criteria new
Customer Experience Product and Service Labelling PR5 Results of surveys measuring customer satisfaction about the organisation as a whole and major product or service categories
Health, Safety, Security and Environment Effluents and Waste EN24 Total number and volume of significant spills
  Occupational Health and Safety LA5 % of total workforce representated in formal joint management worker health and safety committees that help monitor and advise on occupational health and safety programmes
    LA6 Type of injury and rates of injury, occupational diseases, lost days and absenteeism, and total number of work related fatalities by gender
  Asset Integrity and Process Safety OG13 Number of process safety events, by business activity new
Sustainability Energy EN3 Energy consumption within the organisation
    EN6 Reduction of energy consumption
  Water EN10 % and total volume of water recycled and reused
  Effluents and Waste EN23 Total weight of waste by type and disposal method
  Emissions EN15 Direct GHG emissions scope 1
    EN16 Indirect GHG emissions scope 2
    EN17 Other indirect GHG emissions scope 3
    EN18 GHG emissions intensity new
    EN19 Reduction of GHG emissions
  Transport EN30 Significant environmental impacts of transporting products and other goods and materials for the organisations operations, and transporting members of the workforce
  Suppliers EN33 Significant actual and potential negative environmental impacts in the supply chain and actions taken
Community Economic Performance EC1 Direct economic value generated and distributed including to community groups
  Local Communities SO1 % of operations with implemented local community engagement, impact assessments, and development programmes
Our people Employment LA1 Total number and rates of new employee hires and employee turnover by age group and gender
    LA2 Benefits provided to full-time employees that are not provided to temporary or part-time employees new
    LA3 Return to work and retention rates after parental leave, by gender
  Diversity and Equal Opportunity LA12 Composition of governance bodies and breakdown of employees per employee category according to gender, age group, minority group membership and other indicators of diversity
  Equal Remuneration LA13 Ratio of basic salary and remuneration of women to men by employee category
  Training and Education LA10 Programmes for skills management and lifelong learning that support the continued employability of employees and assist them in managing career endings
    LA11 % of employees receiving regular performance and career development reviews, by gender and employee category


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.