What’s the carbon cost of refuelling your vehicle?

For the better part of a decade, Z has worked on reducing its environmental impact and helping others reduce theirs. 

Now, with the launch of Carbon Count, any Z App user can offset up to 100 percent of their fuel purchases at a cost of around 12 cents a litre or $6 for a full tank of fuel (depending on what grade of fuel you use).

Carbon Count calculates your carbon footprint in real time, using the industry standard value for carbon, and you can check your total as often as you like. You can choose to pay each time you fill up, once a month, or whenever. Motorists who make purchases at the till or via another retailer can still use Carbon Count to offset their fuel, by downloading the Z App, then entering payment details and number of litres purchased.

“Many people say they want to do something about climate change, but they don’t know what to do – Carbon Count is a response to that,” says Z’s Chief Innovation Officer, Scott Bishop.

All the money goes to supporting Permanent Forests NZ, which aggregates, markets, and sells carbon credits on behalf of forest owners registered under the Government’s Permanent Forest Sink Initiative.

Trees act as carbon sinks, consuming carbon dioxide and storing it in the leaves and roots. Permanent forestry land is locked up and protected for 50 to 100 years and the sole income derived from it is carbon offsets. Once the units are bought, they are taken out of circulation, meaning that they cannot be used for compliance with the Emissions Trading Scheme.

This is important because for each tonne of carbon offset, there is one less metric tonne of carbon in the atmosphere than there otherwise would have been. The cost of offsetting one tonne of carbon currently fluctuates between around $43-48 per metric tonne.

Scott points out that if you are a Pumped customer (Z’s loyalty programme) you get a 6-cent discount on every litre of fuel – about half the amount you would pay to offset it.

“We’ve previously donated the value of discount days to native tree planting. With Carbon Count, you can have the Pumped discount and offset your fuel. We want to start a conversation with customers about what the carbon cost of their fuel is, alongside the dollar cost. It’s an important conversation to have.”

The fuel that Z sells each year releases around 9 million tonnes of carbon into the atmosphere, which is about 9 percent of New Zealand’s total emissions. The company has recognised this impact since its founding in 2010 and has put finding solutions at the heart of the business. One step they have taken is to work with Permanent Forests NZ to protect 4,000 hectares of permanent forest with over 120,000 tonnes of carbon capture capability since 2017. This is one of the largest voluntary contributions by a single company to forest carbon sinks in New Zealand to date.

Carbon Count is a way of offering customers the same ability to take action, while sending the message that everybody needs to use less fuel and to use it responsibly when they do.

“We set the sustainability standards eight years ago around reducing our impact and enabling others to reduce theirs,” explains Z’s Sustainability Champion, Camilla Read. “Z developed a 5-year programme and worked out how to do more, better.”

With over 2,000 retail staff and a large network of service stations, Z can make a substantive difference towards New Zealand’s goal of net zero emissions by 2050. The company has embraced initiatives such as coffee cups that can be composted on the forecourt; developed the country’s first biodiesel plant using local, renewable feedstock; and has worked with the Energy Efficiency Conservation Authority on driving efficiency programs for commercial drivers.

“We are lucky to have visibility and impact and we need to make the most of both on behalf of Kiwis,” says Camilla. “We want to be able to provide the easiest way for people to reduce the impact of their fuel use. With everything transformational, you have to make it easy for people.”