3R Group: a Toitū carbonzero Case Study
3R Group’s core business is focussed on minimising the impact of business on the environment. They develop programmes to recycle or responsibly dispose of used products and packaging. From businesses with a specific waste issue, to industry-wide projects looking at the full product life cycle, they are experts in product stewardship solutions and circular economy thinking.
3R have been reimagining waste for more than 13 years. As waste is a significant contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, their business is an integral part of the solution. Their creative approach of combining imagination and science to repurpose waste, has led them to develop recycling programmes for consumers and industry, and help individual businesses reduce their waste to landfill.
3R Sustainability Champions (Left to Right): Chief Executive Adele Rose; National Programme Manager - Chemicals Jason Richards with ChemCollect Driver Mark Rose; SeatSmart programme manager Toni Bye.
Toitū carbonzero certification
Known as an industry innovator, it was natural that 3R turn a critical eye to their own climate impacts. They sought Toitū carbonzeroCertTM certification to measure, manage and offset their carbon impacts, and are keen to challenge and inspire others to make meaningful changes and reduce their emissions too.
They had been “going it alone” for six years but decided to seek external validation of their efforts. They first gained Toitū carbonreduce certification in 2014 and then took the next step to Toitū carbonzero certification in 2016. The achieved an impressive 41% reduction in carbon emissions (against a 2013-2014 baseline) by reducing fuel and freight through a number of business initiatives. To offset the remainder of their emissions, 3R purchased carbon credits from Hinewai Reserve, on Banks Peninsula, which means they are investing in local carbon sequestration and biodiversity projects. Their efforts were recognised by Toitū Envirocare in June 2018, when they were listed among 20 New Zealand emissions reduction “exemplars”. Ongoing initiatives continue to reduce their current footprint.
Finding emissions reductions
3R believes reducing emissions should be ongoing and embedded in the business. Their first step was to begin measuring their emissions – you can’t manage if you don’t measure. Secondly, they focused on their major emissions source – transport. Over the years, they have made reductions through a number of initiatives. The 3R team regularly review transport routes, loads and frequency, which has resulted in reduced on-road time and fleet vehicle numbers. As well as this, they have developed innovative solutions to increase the efficiency of their material collections (like their chemical collection service, ChemCollect) or processing (such as establishing new materials processing facilities), which have also reduced mileage. They also prioritise web conferencing to reduce staff travel.
But it’s not only the big changes which make a difference, and 3R firmly believe in making any and all meaningful improvements which result in lower emissions. For instance, they prioritise suppliers with a similar ethos – using Ecotricity for their electricity supply, Ricoh for their printing and buying Ecostore products (all Toitū carbonzero certified companies). They have also installed energy efficient lighting, including LED, at several sites, and a Solatube in the Hastings office boardroom. Of course minimising waste is a key focus, so they provide recycling services for their sites, including for soft plastics, e-waste and dental products, as well as a compost bin.
Mattress dismantling as part of the
Rebound mattress recycling project
Through their work with Resene PaintWiseTM and the Dulux Paint and Packaging Take Back programme, 3R have diverted over five million kilograms of paint and packaging from landfill. Their decade of work in the rural sector has resulted in the collection and recycling of nearly three million kilograms of plastic, plus more than 145,000 kilograms of unwanted or expired agrichemicals, for safe disposal.
3R also manage the Glass Packaging Forum’s accredited product stewardship scheme and are project managers of Tyrewise (the end of life tyre project), the Lubricant Packaging Stewardship Scheme and Refrigerant Recovery Project. In addition, 3R runs the SeatSmart child car seat recycling programme and are developing the Rebound mattress recycling project. They have also started their own chemical collection service, ChemCollect, and operate The Great DDT Muster, a programme to collect persistent organic pollutants with funding support from the Waste Minimisation Fund.
Left: Paint cans after being collected and decanted as part of the Resene PaintWise programme; Right: ChemCollect Driver Mark Rose collects 2.3 tonnes of DDT from a rural property during The Great DDT Muster in 2018
Leading the change
3R’s passion for resource recovery extends beyond their own operations and business services to a commitment to influence and enable other businesses and consumers on their sustainability journey. Active membership of Sustainable Business Council, WasteMINZ, NZ Business and Parliament Trust, and the Sustainable Business Network, has meant 3R has worked on projects such as Vision 2050 and the Zero Carbon Climate Action Group, as well as speaking at industry conferences and running local sustainability events.
3R is a signatory to the Climate Leaders Coalition (CLC) which was formed in July 2018. The Coalition has more than 70 signatories (and growing), made up of some of New Zealand’s biggest companies, collectively contributing to over half of New Zealand’s emissions. The CLC recognises a fundamental tenet that 3R have always believed; that business has a role to play in bringing about change. The joint statement commits signatories to action – to help New Zealand transition to a low-emission economy and, in doing so, create a positive future for our businesses and our country.
In signing the statement, these business leaders have committed to measuring and reporting their greenhouse gas emissions and working with suppliers to reduce emissions, to help keep global warming within two degrees as specified in the Paris Agreement.
As part of 3R’s commitment to the CLC they actively work to reduce and offset their emissions, and work with suppliers, other businesses and industry to encourage action on climate change.
Into the future
As a sustainability leader, 3R’s commitment to sustainable development is inherent in all their business activities. Their efforts show that even small businesses can reduce their emissions and make a difference for the environment. They help other businesses take advantage of the opportunities for utilise waste to add value and create wealth for themselves and the whole country. Through their low carbon business model, 3R is well on track towards Vision 2050: “To live well and within the limits of the planet”.
Toitū carbonzero certified organisations
Toitū carbonzero organisation certification is proof an organisation is positively contributing to our environment through measuring, reducing and offsetting their carbon footprint. To achieve Toitū carbonzero certification, an organisation measures all operational greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions required under the international standard for carbon footprints, ISO 14064-1, including vehicles, business travel, fuel and electricity, paper, and waste. The emissions are measured annually, and the inventory is independently verified to ensure it is accurate and complete. Once they have measured their footprint, the organisation must develop plans to continually manage and reduce their emissions. Each year, unavoidable emissions are offset through the purchase of quality carbon credits to achieve neutral emissions. The organisation must reduce emissions on a six-year cycle.