Local businesses tackle big freight component of carbon footprint
More small and medium-sized businesses are taking steps cut their carbon footprint, but how easy is that to do if most of their emissions come from freight? Based in Golden Bay at the northern tip of the South Island, natural health and wellbeing online store, HealthPost received up to half a million orders a year. So it was no surprise to the retailer which started measuring its carbon emissions four years ago that shipping accounted for most of its carbon footprint. Acting general manager Mathew Close said 80% of the companys emissions came from freight; mostly orders leaving HealthPosts Collingwood warehouse. The company was paying to offset those emissions through local tree planting, including at its own carbon forest in Golden Bay. Close was optimistic those freight emissions would drop gradually over the next few years. NZ Post, the company that shipped HealthPosts orders, was making good efforts to cut its carbon footprint, he said. NZ Post had committed to being carbon neutral by 2030 (cutting its emissions by 32% from a 2018 baseline), according to its website. The company said it would purchase carbon credits from 2030 to offset any remaining unavoidable emissions. While NZ Post was not among big entities in Aotearoa required to disclose the effects of their business on the climate, it was not sitting on its hands, and was pushing electric vehicles and trialling things like hydrogen, Close said. Meanwhile, HealthPost would consider if changing things like the way it packed orders or packaging could help reduce its shipping emissions. The retailer had already cut its emissions from waste and becoming paperless where possible, and was looking for ways to cut its second biggest source of emissions; staff commuting. The company recognised a few years ago that offsetting its carbon was part of its mission to have a lasting, positive impact on the wellbeing of people and the planet , Close said. HealthPosts sustainability lead, Nina Griffith, said there was always something new for businesses to learn about how to cut carbon, no matter how far they were in to the process. She helped facilitate a recent workshop in Nelson organised by Mission Zero an initiative of local charitable trust, Businesses for Climate Action to help companies in the top of the South measure and cut their carbon emissions . Such events were important for businesses to be able to discuss what action they were taking on emissions, to help expose any opportunities they might be missing, Griffith said. That included things like potential software enhancements needed to gather emissions data, she said. Trustee and Co Chair for Businesses for Climate Action / Mission Zero, Bruce Gilkison said businesses that were freighting product could look for potential ways to save freight emissions, like having more product and less air or packing material in each package. While the business couldnt reduce the emissions to zero in the near future, having measured those emissions meant it could at least focus on them, and take whatever steps are feasible on the journey to zero. Many customers would prefer to deal with a business that was honestly measuring and reporting emissions and other environmental challenges, rather than one that hadnt even started on the journey, he said. The trust was delighted to be have been able to provide events like the Countdown to Zero workshops free of charge for participants, with the help of Nelson City Council funding. 85% of attendees reported finding the session either very or extremely helpful.