Some of the intiatives underway
The NZAGRC: Helping agriculture meet the emissions challenge
A farm paddock might be the last place you’d expect to find a state-of-the-art laser, but it’s a piece of technology that is being hailed by scientists in New Zealand as a potential game changer for how they measure a potent agricultural emission.
The University of Waikato’s Professor Louis Schipper and his team are using a Quantum Cascade Laser to get vastly more accurate measurements of nitrous oxide (N2O). N2O is an important component of New Zealand’s greenhouse gas emissions profile that predominantly comes from agriculture, and from livestock urine patches in particular. The work on N2O is one aspect of a range of science funded by the New Zealand Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Research Centre (NZAGRC).
Another area of research that the NZAGRC supports is the impact of changes in farm management practices on greenhouse gas emissions. Led by Dr Robyn Dynes from AgResearch, the NZAGRC’s Integrated Farming Systems programme shows how existing practical and cost effective strategies to reduce emissions intensity can be easily adopted by farmers. She has studied Bill and Shirley Wright’s sheep and cattle farm in South Canterbury, where a raft of initiatives have been made over the past two decades. Among other things, they have adjusted the number of sheep and cattle they run, changed the types of grass and crops they grow, and fenced off waterways. As a result, the farm has become more drought resilient, as well as more environmentally and financially sustainable. Dr Dynes’ studies have shown the Wrights have improved their farm’s efficiency and reduced greenhouse gas emissions intensity (carbon dioxide per kilogram of product) by an impressive 18 per cent.
Nearly half of New Zealand’s greenhouse gases come from agriculture—that’s by far the highest of any OECD country. At the same time, more than 38 percent of the country’s merchandisable exports come from agriculture. The world will continue to need more food to feed its growing population, so how can New Zealand strike that critical balance between increasing production, supporting its own economy and lowering emissions?
The NZAGRC supports research and development of agricultural greenhouse gas mitigation solutions for New Zealand. Its mission is to provide knowledge, technologies and practices to help New Zealand’s agricultural sector continue to thrive in a carbon-constrained world.
Fully funded by the government, the Centre was established to build on research to bring cost-effective, simple solutions to New Zealand farms, and contribute world-leading findings to the international science community.
The Centre’s $48.5m science investment is vital to New Zealand’s progress environmentally and economically, and is key to helping New Zealand’s farming sector meet the livestock emissions challenge. The Centre works closely Pastoral Greenhouse Gas Research Consortium (PGgRc), jointly funded by the government and the industry.
The four key areas of research the NZAGRC is funding are focused on methane, nitrous oxide, soil carbon, and integrated farming systems including Māori agribusiness. Funding is being turned into practical solutions; for example, animal breeding and inhibitor programmes to reduce methane emissions are now at the pilot phase and are being taken towards commercialisation by the PGgRc. The Centre’s work on mitigating nitrous oxide emissions also has the helpful co-benefit of reducing nitrate leaching into waterways.
The Centre works with its nine partners and the Government collaboratively, and a wide range of national and international research organisations. The NZAGRC’s administrative role within the Global Research Alliance is an example of how the Centre is a leader on an international level. Find out more about the mitigation options and research that is underway in New Zealand here.
2017 NZI Sustainable Business Network Awards
A selection of the finalists with climate change-related initiatives below. Read all the amazing stories of the SBN finalists
Waste Management NZ
With around 800 trucks, Waste Management NZ has one of New Zealand’s largest heavy vehicle fleets, requiring over 10 million litres of diesel per year. It is tackling this high diesel use by converting some of these trucks into electric vehicles.
Waste Management NZ (WMNZ) is a waste and environmental services provider. It has more than 300,000 customers across the country. Its pilot conversion of a small number of collection trucks to electric is a first for the waste sector in New Zealand.
So far three diesel collection trucks are being converted to electric in The Netherlands. With the support of EECA, the company is building an electric truck conversion and service workshop in New Zealand, so further conversions can take place here. The workshop will help other companies seeking to investigate conversion opportunities. WMNZ is also transitioning its light vehicle fleet to electric.
Waste Management is a finalist in the Smarter Transport category of the 2017 NZI Sustainable Business Network Awards.
Mevo is a Wellington-based electric vehicle hire company. It provides a sustainable alternative to private car ownership for urban New Zealand residents and businesses.
Mevo members can access a modern electric vehicle whenever needed by using a mobile app to locate, book, and drive the car. Mevo’s fleet carbon emissions are offset 120%, so every kilometre driven by a Mevo member is helping the climate. Mevo sources its carbon credits from the Rarakau Rainforest Conservation Project in western Southland, which combines climate protection with biodiversity conservation and community development on Maori Land.
Mevo is on target to grow its fleet to 50 electric vehicles in Wellington within the first year of operations. It aims to scale to five cities within five years, deploying over 2000 vehicles.
Mevo is a finalist in the Smarter Transport category of the 2017 NZI Sustainable Business Network Awards.
ChargeNet NZ’s main goal is to promote and accelerate the uptake of electric vehicles in New Zealand. It is the only organisation installing a nationwide network of rapid charging infrastructure.
ChargeNet NZ is also installing a non-monopolistic billing system. It encourages other owners of charging infrastructure to attach their hardware to the ChargeNet NZ network, creating a seamless nationwide network for electric vehicle drivers. The company only purchases 100% carboNZero certified electricity.
As access to rapid charging infrastructure increases, so does uptake of electric vehicles. Several major car manufacturers are now marketing electric vehicles in New Zealand. The Government’s goal of doubling electric vehicle uptake year on year is currently being exceeded.
ChargeNet NZ’s first charger was installed in September 2015 and now there are over 50 chargers in the network. ChargeNet NZ has pledged to install 105 rapid chargers along main state highways and urban areas. The goal is to enable charging every 80 km.
ChargeNet NZ is a finalist in the Smarter Transport category of the 2017 NZI Sustainable Business Network Awards.
As the only supplier of carboNZero certified electricity in New Zealand, Ecotricity is heavily supporting the uptake of electric vehicles (EVs). The company’s vehicle fleet is 100% electric or hybrid vehicles.
In 2015 and 2016, Ecotricity launched an EV Buyers Guide and EV Savings Calculator to help people calculate the savings they could make from an EV. Ecotricity has also developed the carboNZero certified ecoSAVER price plan. This offers 45% off peak savings for EV charging at home using carboNZero certified electricity.
Ecotricity has launched a weekly YouTube show called ecoTEC. The show features local and global news in relation to cleaner transport, renewables and battery technology. The show promotes local companies adopting and developing new technologies. The objective is to get consumers excited about EV technology. The show has had over 300,000 views across multiple social media platforms.
Ecotricity is a finalist in the Smarter Transport category of the 2017 NZI Sustainable Business Network Awards.
BOLTRA is an electric bike hire company. It makes e-bike ownership more affordable and easier to try.
A 30-day subscription includes a premium electric cycle, unlimited maintenance, theft insurance and theft proof locks with every ride. Bikes are delivered to your door or office for less than the cost of a monthly metro pass.
Research on the cycle industry highlighted that costs, quality and customer experience varied widely. Long standing barriers to cycling were not being addressed such as the fear of theft, fear of maintenance, and the fitness required to cycle long distances. BOLTRA offers users an easy and affordable way to try e-cycling without having to commit to any high upfront costs. BOLTRA is also helping mitigate congestion problems in New Zealand’s biggest cities.
BOLTRA started in September 2016. It is currently only available in Auckland but plans to expand to Wellington, Christchurch and Queenstown.
Boltra is a finalist in the Smarter Transport category of the 2017 NZI Sustainable Business Network Awards.
Innocent Packaging produces disposable food packaging made from plants. It is the first and only packaging company in Australasia to only produce plant-based packaging.
Since 2013, the company has provided a wide range of plant based compostable alternatives to petrochemical based packaging, enabling used products to be diverted from landfill.
Plates and takeaway containers are made from wheat straw (waste left over after the production of wheat). The process creates muddy wastewater which is used on the company’s worm farm.
Smartass, the company’s toilet paper, is tree-free and made from bagasse (waste from processing sugar) and fast-growing bamboo. For every carton sold, it plants a tree with partner Million Metres.
Cups, bowls and lids are lined with poly lactic acid (corn starch), which uses 80% less greenhouse gases.
Innocent Packaging aims to see as much organic and packaging waste diverted away from landfill as possible. It partners with waste management companies, councils and event organisers to provide customers with zero waste solutions.
Innocent Packaging is a finalist in the Going Circular category of the 2017 NZI Sustainable Business Network Awards.
Vector’s mission is to de-carbonise New Zealand’s energy mix while at the same time driving better efficiency and resilience, reducing demand, and providing access to affordable and reliable energy to everyone.
Vector partnered with Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei for the Kāinga Tuatahi housing project in Ōrakei. The 30-home residential development is for first-home buyers. It includes a networked system of solar panels and batteries for each home, developed by Vector.
Not only are residents reducing carbon emissions, they are saving on energy bills. The system is networked, meaning individual residents can share excess power with others in the community who need it more. New technology is coming which could enable wider scale peer-to-peer distribution outside the community. It could enable gifting to those with less means to purchase energy.
The community solution became fully operational across all 30 homes in December 2016. It helps Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei fill their role as kaitiaki of their land. They are able to facilitate greater self-sufficiency and have reduced the community’s environmental impact. In the first five months following installation, 47% of the community’s energy needs were met by onsite generation. 2.84 tonnes of CO2-e was saved.
Vector is a finalist in the Revolutionising Energy category of the 2017 NZI Sustainable Business Network Awards
Pakaraka Permaculture is a certified organic farm and market garden. It is working towards becoming carbon negative by installing a solar power system that will support all of its energy requirements. Combined with its organic and regenerative farming practice, it is a leading example of sustainable food production.
Being carbon negative means the farm is capturing carbon from the atmosphere and locking it in the soil. Farming practices include not using tractors or heavy machinery and using low till cultivation methods. The farm doesn’t use any commercial herbicides, pesticides or fungicides. These practices build organic matter in the soil. Educational programmes and tours are run at the farm to empower a new generation of regenerative farmers.
Earlier this year Pakaraka Permaculture ran a successful crowdfunding campaign, ‘Running on Sunshine’ to purchase a solar energy system. A 5kW photovoltaic system now connects to an integrated smart solar technology system. It has also invested in a cool room to help reduce waste and uses an electric delivery car. The farm will save over 9.5 tonnes of CO2 annually in fuel emissions alone.
Pakaraka Permaculture is a finalist in the Revolutionising Energy category of the 2017 NZI Sustainable Business Network Awards
HR Cement Limited
HR Cement is a privately owned cement company in Tauranga. It has developed a new cement named ‘Eco-cem’, which has a low carbon footprint and helps reduce CO2 emissions.
Globally cement production accounts for around 5% of carbon dioxide production. Roughly one tonne of cement produces one tonne of carbon dioxide. Eco-cem cement is the much reduced embodiment of carbon dioxide. It has been designed to have strength gain like normal cement as well costing the same.
HR Cement currently produces 100,000 tonnes of ‘normal’ cement. If it converts all production to the Eco-cem cement, the saving would be 25,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide.
Eco-cem was first produced in early 2017 after extensive testing and development. Around 500 tonnes has been produced so far for trials. Production will be ramping up over the next few months as HR Cement establishes markets and customers.
HR Cement is a finalist in the Revolutionising Energy category of the 2017 NZI Sustainable Business Network Awards
EcoLight offers a way for New Zealanders to move towards sustainable energy savings through the use of LED lighting. EcoLight and Kiwi Property have worked collaboratively across a range of LED projects. They have opened the way for all commercial buildings to install LED lighting.
Key projects have included replacing fluorescent lights in carparks with new LED fittings that include built motion and daylight sensors. This results in lights only turning on to full power when required. It maximises efficiency and increasing the products’ life span.
Kiwi Property and EcoLight have replaced 7,710 light fittings in Kiwi Property’s portfolio with LEDs. This is saving 3,020,498 kWh, $483,280 and 271 tCO2e annually. By refurbishing existing fittings, the custom retrofit LED panel solution significantly reduces waste to landfill. One LED strip, over its lifetime, replaces 37 fluorescent light tubes. It saves 50-80% of a building’s electricity usage and maintenance costs.
The Kiwi Property LED project provides demonstration sites throughout NZ for other property management companies to follow suit. It has bought LED lighting to a market tipping point whereby all commercial lighting projects will use LEDs. The NZ savings from such wide adoption are estimated to be 1 billion kWh annually.
EcoLight/Kiwi Property is a finalist in the Revolutionising Energy category of the 2017 NZI Sustainable Business Network Awards
Give your values a voice with Conscious Consumers
Climate change is a key value for Kiwis as a part of Conscious Consumers in Aotearoa, ranking in the top five of issues measured for September 2017.
Through the app consumers are able to show businesses what they care about by making their everyday spending at select member businesses visible, and have directly contributed to change in how businesses operate. This is achieved through selecting ’Taking action on Climate Change’ as something that you care about when joining Conscious Consumers.
Once selected, every dollar you spend is a vote cast with your values. Now more than ever Kiwis have the power to choose their world.
Conscious Consumers - https://consciousconsumers.nz/consumer-sign-up/