Business

When finding worms in your food is a good thing

22/09/2015

When finding worms in your food is a good thing

At Z, we’re under no illusion – we know the impact the products we sell have on the environment. Instead of being at the centre of the problem, however, we’re committed to being at the heart of the solution when it comes to sustainability.

We knew when we decided to try and reduce the amount of waste going from our service stations to landfill by 70% that we’d be in for some hard work. Here at Z, we’re not afraid of ambitious targets when it comes to sustainability.

The first thing we did was implement recycling across the entire Z service station network. Not only do we now have recycling across all of our own operations, we also have New Zealand’s largest privately-funded public recycling network with bins on the forecourts of more than 100 of our Z sites across the country.

A baseline survey conducted in 2012 showed that, by weight, up to a third of the contents in our skip bins was food waste. We knew our neighbourhood sites were happy to keep donating their unsold food to the friendly local pig farmers nearby, but we were at a loss as to what to do with the unsold pies, sandwiches, and coffee grounds we were throwing away every year.

That’s where We Compost came in.

After chucking in his corporate job at an insurance company in 2008, Aucklander Steve Rickerby set up We Compost – a network of businesses in Auckland keen to collectively send their food waste to a credible composting facility.

Starting out with one bin on the back a ute, Steve now collects more than 500 bins (9 tonnes) of organic waste from across Auckland each week, delivering 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. In 2014, we estimate Z sites diverted just under 500 tonnes of food waste from landfill, partly with We Compost’s help.

Before deciding to consolidate to the Auckland region where business is booming, Steve started collecting food waste from 21 Z service stations across Auckland and Hamilton.

Steve says being able to work with Z gave We Compost the boost it needed.

“Partnering with Z gave us a huge boost at a time when we really needed it. Collecting waste from the Z sites increased our collection density in certain areas, and it helped us justify a push out into the west Auckland region.

“To be able to casually drop into conversation with prospective customers that we collect from around 20 Z sites gives We Compost a huge amount of credibility and has helped to normalise the idea of a 'third' food waste 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. Working with Z has been an important aspect for our positioning in the market, and I hope working with We Compost has had the same effect for the Z brand!”

Z’s Sustainability Manager, Gerri Ward, says working with We Compost has had a hugely positive impact on reducing the amount of waste going to landfill.

“Thanks in large part to a successful partnership with organisations like We Compost, and Kai to Compost in Wellington, we’re now tracking at nearly 85% of the way towards our waste reduction target.

“The progress we’ve made to date has been made despite our Z service station network growing from 204 stations in 2012 to 213 stations today.

“At Z, we reckon we’re making good progress on our sustainability journey, and reducing the amount of waste we send from our service stations and our offices to landfill is a great example of that progress.”