One year on: our carbon neutral anniversary

A lot can happen in a year, especially when it comes to climate change. Goals for reductions in emissions can be set and achieved, policy changes can take place - as our government show us with the passing of the Zero Carbon Bill into law - and more people can be inspired to evaluate the choices they make in favour of more sustainable options.

In the year since we announced our carbon neutrality, we've continued to look for new ways to improve our sustainability as a business, from our vehicles to our packaging and everything in between.

To ensure new packaging submissions are correctly aligned to our Sustainable Packaging Guidelines, suppliers and sourcing teams must identify packaging attributes such as the material types and the presence of any certifications. 20 percent of our The Warehouse and Warehouse Stationery private label products will need to have at least one environmental attribute or sustainable packaging attribute by 2022.

Ongoing LED upgrades to stores throughout the network will continue. Approximately 50 of our stores have received these upgrades so far. Increasing LED lights could see us reaching up to 40 percent electricity savings across the business, and a sizeable reduction of our carbon emissions.

The Warehouse

Last year saw the reinstatement of the hugely successful soft plastic recycling scheme organised by The Packaging Forum. Currently, 16 The Warehouse stores in Auckland, Hamilton and Wellington offer soft plastic recycling bins in-store, with the collections being transformed into fence posts by Future Post, or garden edging by Second Life Plastics in Levin. See the process behind creating the fence posts here.

Working with EECA (Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority) and its Gen Less programme we donated $10,000 in vouchers to community groups around the country to purchase LED lightbulbs from The Warehouse. Learn more about the initiative here.

12 stores across AKL, WGT and HMT have collected 13 tonnes of post-consumer soft plastics. Circularity in action.

Noel Leeming

At Noel Leeming, EVs will be making their way into the business, with a commitment to add four EV trucks to its fleet for home deliveries.

In 2019, the brand began a partnership with RE:mobile, which enables customers around the country to donate old or unwanted electronic devices in-store to be refurbished and re-sold. The RE:mobile programme is a perfect example of the circular economy in action.

Noel Leeming’s polystyrene recycling at our North Island Distribution Centre has seen approximately 56 tonnes per year collected and recycled from customers’ purchases of new appliances.

Torpedo7

Torpedo7 is taking waste reduction and recycling to new levels with the introduction of recycled store fixtures, foam rollers and yoga blocks made from single-use plastic bags.

With the opening of its new flagship store in the Westfield Newmarket shopping centre, the brand wanted to do something different when it came to store fixtures. With a surplus of plastic shopping bags that were no longer usable for consumers, the brand partnered with Critical Design to create one-of-a-kind store fixtures that utilised an existing material. Learn more about the process and end-result here.

To further expand the use of single-use plastic items, like polybags that typically wrap products, Torpedo7 partnered with Obie to create foam rollers and yoga blocks.

Warehouse Stationery

For Warehouse Stationery, we have sustainability events for small-medium enterprises (SMEs) planned to take place over the next year.

During these events, we will be inviting customers in-store to hear from our sustainability team on how to introduce cost-saving and environmental improvement initiatives into their businesses, showing that it can be easier than you think to make your business more sustainable.

Warehouse Stationery will also be offering an increasing number of products with sustainable attributes. For example, the brand is now offering wheat paper products in-store, which are made from reclaimed wheat grain stalks. Wheat straw products divert material from the waste stream and provide a reclaimed resource that is durable, lightweight, and has the same quality attributes as normal tree-based products.

Looking Forward

Over the next six to twelve months, we’re looking to expand on the work our teams have done while looking for new ways to improve our ways of working and reducing emissions.

  • In May of this year, we will have approved Science-Based Targets for our business, aligning our TWG emissions reduction goals toward no more than 1.5 degrees of warming.
  • Planning for an FY21 implementation of solar panels has begun, and we’re working with key stakeholders in and outside the business to scope the solar opportunity for our teams, our customers and the environment.
  • When it comes to domestic native forestry projects, we are currently working with industry experts to scope our forestry offsetting program for the next 10 years.
  • Following the energy audit work undertaken by our energy audit partners EnergyNZ, we are ramping up our active emission reduction program, which consists of the implementation of prioritised and site-specific energy and cost saving initiatives across the entire TWG portfolio. We are targeting an ambitious 30% energy savings through this program over the next 12-24 months.

As we continue our journey to becoming the most sustainable retailer in New Zealand, we keep being inspired by the passion of our team members and the millions of young people who regularly take the streets to ask for more ambitious climate action. We know it takes an army to build a nation, and we want to play our part in the army of change agents who work to make the world a better place.

Still unsure what carbon neutral is all about? Check out the video below.


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