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Our Environment: Issue 18 Autumn 1999

Our Environment: Christchurch City Council's Environmental Newsletter

Smart Decisions On Waste Boost Savings For Retailers

More inner City retailers are getting wise about waste.

Ten retailers have been involved in the City Council's "Green Retail" pilot project, which started in May last year. Moves to reduce waste in local businesses have been so successful the Council is now inviting other retailers to join the next programme starting in April.

"Green Retail has been really positive in terms of raising awareness of waste as a business management issue," says Karyn Durham, Waste Minimisation Facilitator at the Council's Waste Management Unit. Those taking part had also found it very useful for networking and were working with local suppliers on issues such as packaging.

The programme, which includes four workshops and on-site advice, is offered free. In return retailers are asked to attend and participate in workshops and to demonstrate a commitment to the project by allocating sufficient time and resources to implement waste minimisation on site.

Using resources more efficiently and sending less waste to the landfill are important issues for Ballantynes, Timberland, Coyotes, Ab Fab Bookshop, Learning Curve, McEwing's Mountain Sports, Bivouac Outdoor, Kiwi Outdoors, Wild Places and The Body Shop.

With the help of the City Council's Waste Management Unit, these retailers have been sorting and measuring their waste and looking for any opportunity to reduce, reuse or recycle it. Not only that, they have also been finding out how their businesses can be more energy efficient by saving electricity.

"It's definitely been worthwhile," says Simon Pease, Manager of McEwing's Mountain Sports. "The information and expertise provided by the Green Retail programme has helped us make a considerable reduction in waste by making us look at the whole process of the company."

Successes so far include:

  • Ab Fab Bookshop reduced waste to the landfill by three tonnes per year by recycling paper waste.
  • Ballantynes reduced waste and waste disposal costs through reuse of some packaging and by recycling paper waste. Potential savings are at least $2,000 a year.
  • Bivouac reduced waste by more than half, saving $200 a year in disposal costs.
  • McEwing's Mountain Sports installed energy efficient lighting which will save $5,000 per year in energy costs, with the added bonus of more efficient lighting.

Bivouac benefited from lighting changes made two years ago. Manager Sally White is now focusing on minimising waste from packaging. She admits it's sometimes an uphill battle but Bivouac is committed to reducing waste. "Our environmental policy recognises and has a preference for eco-friendly suppliers," she said.

Customers can help retailers save resources by only taking a bag when they really need it and by supporting businesses which minimise waste. Suppliers can also make a difference by reducing or reusing packaging, or by taking packaging back for recycling.

Benefits for businesses participating in "Green Retail" include

  • financial savings from reduced waste disposal costs and more efficient resource use
  • demonstration of a commitment to the environment which will appeal to green consumers
  • the opportunity to work with other Green Retailers.

Retailers who want to be involved in Green Retail can contact Karyn at the Council's Waste Management Unit, telephone (03) 941 6426.

Simon Pease, Manager of McEwing's Mountain Sports, sorts out thermal bodywear packaging to return to the supplier for recycling.

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