As one of the World’s leading agricultural producers, farmers of New Zealand have a serious dual responsibility to both customers and the environment. Working hard to keep up with accelerating global demand, they must also satisfy growing consumer preferences for clean, green products. New Zealand’s lakes, rivers, coastlines and atmosphere have long been subject to the environmental impacts of intensive farming. The agriculture sector is New Zealand’s largest single source of greenhouse gas emissions, comprising approximately 49 percent of our total emissions.
Meeting the parallel expectations presented by rising consumer demand and environmental sustainability requires not only behavioural transformation and farming practice improvements, but also major technological advancements that will support sustainable agricultural growth: balancing emissions and waste management with productivity maximisation.
The Clean Technology industry is in the business of creating products and services that improve operational performance, productivity and efficiency while reducing costs, raw materials, energy consumption, waste and pollution. As the global economy faces climate uncertainty, resource shortages and energy price increases, the cleantech industry has never been more vital to economic progress, nor has it experienced more rapid growth. Cleantech is the largest area of activity within the economic stimulus packages of the United States, China and Korea. For the G20 countries, US$396 billion in stimulus funding is dedicated to green investments. In 2008, investment in renewable energy made history, surpassing investment in conventional energy projects for the first time.
Wellington’s Regional Economic Development Agency, ‘Grow Wellington’ is refusing to let the opportunity slip by. Their vision for sustainability and clean technology in the region is to drive economic growth forward by creating an ‘ecosystem’ to grow clean technology exports, with the aim of building a leading edge clean technology industry. With the region’s key research capabilities in waste to energy processing, marine distributed generation, sustainable design, low carbon product development, clean transport and geospatial technology, Grow Wellington is committed to harnessing the economic opportunities presented by the global cleantech movement.
There is no denying that packaged goods make a huge contribution to the New Zealand economy. Thus, sensible packaging solutions are vital to ensure the quality, health and safety of goods, to delay spoilage of perishables, and to brand and market products effectively. While packaging consumes significant resources and generates approximately 12 percent of the rubbish we send to landfill, it also plays a crucial role in the sustainability of supply chains. It prevents food from going to waste and household goods being scrapped. With more than 50% of the world’s population living in towns and cities, packaging is becoming even more essential. Packaging’s role in Sustainable Distribution is vital. For example, the loss of food products between grower and consumer is about 2% in the developed world, but between 30 and 50% in the developing world. The difference is largely attributable to modern, technically advanced packaging designed to preserve fresh food for longer.
While it is crucial that we have policies in place to encourage sustainable production and consumption, it is equally important to develop standards and policies that deal with product distribution.
The Packaging Council of New Zealand Inc. (PAC.NZ) works hard to achieve this, assisting its members to minimise the environmental impact of their packaging by championing cost effective, sustainable solutions and product stewardship. When PAC.NZ was incorporated in 1992, its primary function was to determine New Zealand’s packaging recovery rate. PAC.NZ still collects this data on an annual basis, but at the encouragement of Government, the Council’s role has evolved to incorporate the broader context of product stewardship and packaging as an integral part of global supply chains.
The concept of ‘Climate Change’ may conjure up dramatic images of industrial plants billowing out black smoke, sprawling megacities blurred by hazy pollution, massive chunks of ice plunging into the Arctic Sea, sinking Pacific Islands, or stranded polar bears.
Not often do we consider global environmental issues in the context of regular, every day life. But the reality is, there is a greenhouse effect associated with almost every activity we do: driving to work, turning on a light switch, taking out the rubbish, doing the laundry, purchasing just about anything - from clothes to electronics to groceries. Just as each and every individual can be held accountable for their contribution – be it small – to rising greenhouse gases in our atmosphere, so too can each individual make a positive impact (for our planet and for their wallets!) by altering everyday behaviours.
Carbon neutrality, or having a net zero carbon footprint, means achieving net zero carbon emissions (or CO2 equivalent) by balancing a measured amount of carbon released with an equivalent amount sequestered or offset, or buying enough carbon credits to meet the difference.
Several GHG certification schemes exist worldwide, and cater to products, services, events, businesses, government agencies and so on. Developed in 2001 after an idea was written on the back of a napkin by Landcare Research, one of New Zealand’s leading Crown Research Institutes, the carboNZeroCertTM programme is now looking to take on the world.
The built environment is a crucial aspect of sustainable development. The construction, use and demolition of buildings generate social and economic benefit to society and provide the foundations for development, including housing, workplace, public buildings and services, communications, energy, water and sanitary infrastructure. But buildings also have substantial negative impacts, in particular for the environment. Key areas of concern include energy use and associated greenhouse gas emissions, waste generation and disposal, construction materials use and recycling, water use and discharge, and integration of buildings with other infrastructure and social systems.
According to the United Nations Environment Programme, the building and construction sector accounts for the largest share in the use of natural resources, by land use and by materials extraction. This makes the building sector the largest single potential for energy efficiency worldwide.
The incandescent light bulb hasn’t changed much since its invention in 1879. A typical bulb turns only 5% of electricity into useful light, and has a lifetime of about 1,000 hours. For well over a century this old-fashioned technology has been the only electric lighting choice available.
Today, the world’s 29 billion halogen and incandescent bulbs are responsible for a massive 19% of the world’s electricity consumption. Utility companies and Governments around the world are struggling to meet the ever-increasing demand for electricity due to rising costs, the need to reduce carbon emissions and increasing community resistance to building new fossil fuel-powered stations. Furthermore, Australia, the United States and the European Union are the first of a string of countries to begin withdrawing incandescent bulbs from consumer markets in order to meet national energy efficiency regulations brought on by multilateral agreements such as the Kyoto Protocol.
Being environmentally aware – and able to back it up – is good for business. Increasingly, consumers, retailers, manufacturers and government agencies worldwide are favouring products and services from environmentally responsible companies. But business sustainability goals like ISO compliance, permits and waste and emission reductions can be tricky endeavours to implement, monitor, evaluate and disseminate.
As the world moves towards a cleaner, greener economy, the need for effective environmental management systems becomes increasingly apparent. In response, University of Auckland Doctoral students Logan Wait, Manuel Seidel and Richard Cross took the plunge into entrepreneurship and launched ecoPortal. With the assistance of the ICEHOUSE business incubator, the three mechanical engineers have brought to market a web-based environmental management system that assists organisations in obtaining 100% pure credentials, managing certification like Enviro-Mark®NZ or Eco Warranty, and reaching international standards of environmental management such as ISO 14001, ISO 9001 and OHSAS 18001.
Manuel (second from left) and Logan (right) at the ecoPortal launch talking to prospective clients (Richard is absent from photo).
Untouched World is a premium sustainable fashion and performance sportswear brand based on the New Zealand lifestyle. It grew out of a desire to create a positive, sustainable future. Social, cultural and environmental values are embedded deep within the DNA of Untouched World, while quality, function and style remain pivotal to the brand’s success.
“Through fashion, Untouched World aims to lead the way in what is possible for people & planet.”
Founder, Peri Drysdale, was determined to build a multi-dimensional business that created products and services that positively contributed to the planet and its people. This is achieved directly and indirectly through her business and Charitable Trust.
Photonz Corporation produces the omega-3 fatty acid eicosapentanoic acid (or “EPA”) from marine microalgae. EPA is a critical ingredient in regulated pharmaceutical products addressing the cardiovascular disease drug market. The small kiwi Biotech company has avision to be the World’s preferred source of high purity EPA.
The health benefits of omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil, particularly for the heart and inflammation, are well known. An increasing number of food products have omega-3 added to boost dietary intakes and many people have actively increased their consumption of omega-3 supplements and of oily, cold-water fish such as farmed salmon. But, rarely is a human product craze without significant environmental impact. Almost all the omega-3 that is beneficial to cardiovascular health can only be extracted from oil harvested from wild fisheries. The supply of fish oil peaked 20 years ago and escalating demand is translating into rapid increase in fish oil prices, harvest pressure on fisheries and the risk of collapse.