09 May 2019

Riversun goes above and beyond carboNZero

Posted in: Toitū Together

Riversun goes above and beyond carboNZero

Riversun carboNZero

In 2013, the Riversun team set themselves a Big, Hairy, Audacious Goal (BHAG) to be 'truly sustainable' by 2020. They are now a step closer to that vision as a carboNZero certified organisation.

Founded in 1982 and based in Gisborne, Riversun is a leading supplier of premium certified plant material including grafted grapevines, avocado trees and kiwifruit vines. Their team today consists of 70 permanent staff, a number that rises to about 250 during peak season. Its sites are spread out over 100 hectares and include a grapevine source block, field nursery, processing facility and potted plant nursery.

What does true sustainability mean for Riversun? Managing Director Geoff Thorpe says that “if we can’t be doing the same thing on the same land, in the same community and on the same planet in 100 and in 1000 years, then it is not sustainable.”

As a result, as part of their carboNZero commitment Riversun aims to reduce their emissions by 5% each year. To monitor progress and ensure that they're on track to meet this ambitious goal, they will be calculating their emissions every six months rather than annually, as required by the carboNZero programme. Some of their reduction projects already underway include:

  • Energy:
    • Auditing their electricity and fuel consumption
    • Evaluating the feasibility of hybrid/EV alternatives and strategies to reduce petrol and diesel use
    • Investigating alternatives for heating the nursery poly houses
  • Waste:
    • Trialling biodegradable mulch alternatives to the traditional poly mulch in the field nursery.
    • Waste assessment and evaluation of opportunities to minimise use and improve recycling – 500m3 waste plant material each season is converted to compost for application in Riversun’s source block.
    • Paperless office - electronic timesheets, payslips and supply agreements.
  • Biodiversity:
    • Continuing to revegetate 14ha of the escarpment at Whatatutu, their nursery North of Gisborne. To date, Riversun’s revegetation projects have sequestered an estimated 8tCO2.

Raising the bar even higher, Riversun's next audacious goal is to be carbon negative by 2030.

"We believe that being ‘carbon neutral’ is not enough if we want to slow down the impact of climate change," says Geoff.  "To prove our commitment, we are offsetting double the amount of emissions than our organisation's footprint, for the 2017-18 period". Riversun also plans to run an ‘insetting’ programme which allows them to set aside funds to invest in projects aimed at reducing their carbon emissions.

Ronja Lidenhammar, Technical Account Manager at Enviro-Mark Solutions is excited to see what lies ahead in Riversun's sustainability journey. "It is very inspiring to work with an organisation like Riversun who are so committed to going above and beyond and demonstrate leadership in the transition to a low carbon economy," says Ronja.