Electric vehicles and Air New Zealand major winners at sustainability awards

Sustainability is looking more like a revenue-driving decision each year, rather than a self-imposed tax on business.

Air New Zealand this week earned the overall supreme winner award in the 2016 NZI Sustainable Business Network Awards.

Judges say the company demonstrates true corporate leadership in sustainability following the launch of its Sustainability Framework in 2015.

The judges are impressed with Air New Zealand’s transition of its car fleet to electric vehicles (EVs), saving 65,000 litres in fuel each year, and doing so without waiting for government subsidy. The award also recognises the company is challenging other New Zealand corporates to follow, stimulating CEO-level sustainability conversations throughout the country.

As a result, more than 30 organisations have pledged to move at least 30% of their corporate fleets to electric in the next three years. This total private sector commitment of more than 1450 vehicles will increase the number of EVs on New Zealand roads by more than 75%, removing almost three million kilograms of carbon emissions annually.

Sustainable Business Network (SBN) chief executive Rachel Brown says sustainability permeates every aspect of Air New Zealand’s business from the purchase of fuel efficient aircraft to recycling and repurposing old uniforms, diversity programmes, Te Reo speakers on aircraft and environmental programmes.

“Air New Zealand, as one of the nation’s biggest burners of carbon, is setting a fantastic example of how it is possible to operate in a sustainable manner. Its integrated company-wide approach means it is now recognised as the nation’s greatest contributor to sustainability,” Mrs Brown says.

Ecotricity managing director Al Yates says sustainability isn’t considered a burden by the customer anymore. Their decisions to buy from carbon-zero or other cleaner sources are clear and cool-headed choices.

“A lot of companies are realising that sustainability efforts have been shown to as an opportunity to clean up their act but also to secure a piece of the market they potentially wouldn’t have access to otherwise.

“For instance, Farro Fresh will be the first supermarket chain in New Zealand to install electric vehicle charges throughout all branches. So not only will they be buying carbon-zero electricity, they will also help with the transition an electric vehicle future,” Mr Yates says.

Ceres Organics director Noel Josephson agrees the whole world is waking up to sustainability.

“The government says the economy should get going really well and then there will be money to spend on social problems, as though the economic world and social world are two different spheres.

“Whereas in reality, every time you make an economic decision, you are making a social decision. Sustainability is changing a lot of ways we do business,” he says.

This year’s sustainability awards recognised 22 other organisations’ and leaders’ sustainability efforts. Now in their 14th year, the awards celebrate the contribution organisations and individuals are making to transforming New Zealand to a more sustainable nation.

They focus on four transformation areas key to the future direction of sustainability in New Zealand: Renewables, Community, Mega efficiency and Restorative.

The supreme award, NZI Greatest Contribution to a Sustainable New Zealand, is awarded to a business that has performed outstandingly well in all aspects of sustainability.

NZI Sustainable Business Network Awards 2016 results:

Sustainability Champion

Winner – Barry Coates, Green Party, formerly Oxfam and The University of Auckland
Commendation – Gareth Morgan, The Morgan Foundation

Cadence Communications Communicating Sustainability

Winner – Better NZ Trust

EcoPro Cleaning Co Community Innovation

Winner – Ecotricity
Commendation – Kiwibank Banqer
Commendation – Little Yellow Bird

Airbnb Community Impact

Winner – Sustainability Trust Commendation – Good Neighbour Trust

Ricoh Mega Efficiency Innovation

Winner – Ecotricity
Commendation – Energy and Technical Services
Commendation – Method Recycling

Auckland Council Mega Efficiency Impact

Winner – Kiwi Experience
Commendation – Fulton Hogan/Tauranga Airport Authority

Renewables Innovation

Winner – NZ Bus
Commendation – Scion
Commendation – Flick

Renewables Impact

Winner – Air New Zealand
Commendation – ChargeNet

Yealands Family Wines Restorative Innovation

Winner – Ekos
Commendation – Junk Run

Restorative Impact

Winner – Ceres Organics
Commendation – We CompostCommendatio – Zing Bokashi

EECA Business Energy Management

Winner – NZ Bus
Commendation – Fonterra Edendale site

NZI Greatest Contribution to a Sustainable New Zealand

Winner – Air New Zealand
Commendation – Ceres Organics

The interview with Ceres Organics director Noel Josephson can be found here.

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