Recreational Services: A Toitū enviromark diamond case study
Recreational Services is one of New Zealand’s largest and most diverse parks, grounds and facility management organisations. Founded in 1992 as a specialist golf turf management company, it has grown into a well-respected parks specialist operation with a huge inventory of plant and machinery, with over 300 staff operating from 10 branches throughout New Zealand. Seven Recreational Services sites hold Toitū enviromark certification: the Takapuna, Masterton, Manawatu, Whangarei, Tauranga, Far North and Levin sites.
What is your involvement with Toitū Envirocare?
We participate in the Toitū enviromark programme and are certified at the highest standard - Diamond. We are committed in achieving Diamond standard across all our sites with currently 7 sites certified, and each subsequent year we as a team collectively work together in raising the new sites environmental performance.
What drew you into a formal environmental management programme?
At Recreational Services we see our environmental responsibility as a critical part of the overall performance of our operations. As a company that values sustainability and meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. It just makes sense. The heart of our approach is our environmental systems which have been validated by the Toitū enviromark programme since 2005 and its highest level of certification- Diamond since 2009.
What kind of improvements have you made?
We promote the concept of the 1% rule: many 1%’s makes a real difference; it is one step, one improvement at a time, it is the continuous improvement that matters.
At our Auckland site we have implemented our own wash down bay. The system catches roof water which is used to wash the plant with environmentally friendly cleaning product and then filtered through the sediment trap. For our Tauranga and Levin sites we have implemented our own rain water catchment system which provides substantial water for the activities the teams carry out, such as watering client’s planting.
In terms of our mechanical operations, environmental considerations form part of the sourcing criteria for our fleet. For example; we use hybrid transporters to transport our mowers from site to site. Former fuel powered equipment is now battery operated such as our weed eaters and hedge trimmers, and now we are in the early stages of investigating the feasibility of trialling electric trucks.
Have you saved money because of your initiatives?
Tracking our consumables is a monthly task for our team which provides insights to opportunities where we can reduce our impact. One example where we have saved money is in our electricity reduction. This was a focus for us where we ran a competition that included electricity sheriff’s across each site encouraging energy saving behaviours. It was a pleasing result over the 6 month period where our Tauranga team made a savings of 43 per cent over the previous financial year and Levin saved 37 per cent. Six months savings at our Levin site would keep the Tauranga site energised for a whole year.
The overall savings we get from our initiatives can be estimated to several thousand dollars every year.
Which of your achievements are you most proud of and why?
Winning the Outstanding Performance in Environmental Management Award from Toitū Envirocare this year was sensational. It really emphasized to all of us the committed efforts everyone has invested since 2004 and that making lots of small incremental changes can bring reward.
In 2016 we were the first New Zealand company to introduce fully electric commercial ride on mowers into the country. This technology brings a large reduction in our carbon footprint and noise pollution. This is something we will look to expand on if successful to reduce our carbon footprint as a company, plus our Health & Safety requirements in relation to noise for our staff and the wider public utilising the green spaces. Another advantage of this technology is its ability to recharge off the grid with its innovative solar roof panel, which also acts as a sun shade for the well-being of our operator.
What has been the most challenging aspect of this?
Actively engaging our operational and office staff to understand, gain interest and support in being environmentally friendly. We have been targeting our environmental culture through communicating through social media, our internal newsletter ‘RS Times’ and discussing it at each team meeting.
How has being a member of the Toitū enviromark programme assisted you?
It pushes us to do better. Having a framework and supportive staff from Toitū Envirocare drives us to persevere and challenge us should we ever become complacent, however that would never happen.
It also keeps environmental concerns at the forefront of mind, rather than merely as a side thought. It has challenged us to think at the same level as health and safety and the risks and opportunities maintaining the Diamond standard provides.
What value does Toitū enviromark certification have for your organisation?
We are Toitū enviromark diamond in both our Auckland and Masterton sites. To us, having a successful EMS is a little bit like a never ending story – there are constant developments in technology and energy efficiency programmes that can positively influence what we do.
We are currently considering upgrades to a number of operating areas, both equipment and services that will provide incremental improvements in how we operate and at the same time reduce our waste impacts – keeping us sustainable and in business!
Where are you heading now with your environmental management efforts?
Over the next few years we will have all of our sites accredited at Diamond standard, whilst maintaining the standard at our current accredited sites. We are targeting our environmental culture so that by June 2019, we have 100% employee engagement in our environmental management system.
We have invested in our environmental capability with employing a consultant in our division Sports Surface Design & Management. In their role as Turf and Ecological Consultant they have been involved in a number of environmental sustainability trials and projects relating to the sustainable and ecological management of greenspace and golf courses in New Zealand.
Currently we are working with Te Arai, Royal Wellington, and Jacks Point Gold Clubs on a set of field trials to establish whether biological controls for turf pests can be successfully adopted in New Zealand conditions.
In terms of focusing on fuel and driver efficiency we are trialling ERoad’s programme on three of our vehicles with the objective of rolling it out across all our fleet. The programme supports a safety and environmental focused culture where you can track driver performance and fuel usage which can then be used as a tool to train and improve performance.
What advice would you give other companies thinking of managing their environmental impacts through the Toitū enviromark programme?
It is an excellent framework to start the journey. You become aware of your environmental impact and then take steps to reduce it.
It gives direction to your efforts. The whole team must be committed to embrace the culture. It is important to develop champions across the company and at every site. Then get people engaged and develop the right culture to walk the talk.
For further information
Recreational Services Limited
P: 09 443 5011
Toitū enviromark diamond certification
Toitū enviromark diamond certified organisations have all the components of an ISO 14001 system in place. They have internal systems to ensure that their plans and policies are followed and to identify any opportunities for change and improvement. They have top management involvement in managing the EMS and its continuing stability.
To achieve Toitū enviromark diamond certification, an organisation:
- Controls all important documentation to ensure only the most up to date versions are being used;
- Has an internal EMS audit programme in operation, ensuring expected outcomes are occurring as planned;
- Periodically has top management review the performance of the EMS;
- Formalises the roles and responsibilities for people working for and on behalf of the organisation;
- Communicates appropriately both internally and externally;
- Ensures appropriate training is given to people working with the EMS;
- Documents all procedures relating to managing the system (both system and operational procedures);
- Has a good system for managing problems (non-conformities and opportunities for improvement);
- Sets objectives and targets for driving improvement and has programmes in place to meet those targets;
- Develops, implements and tests environmental emergency plans;
- Identifies and evaluates their significant environmental issues arising from activities, products and services;
- Actively monitors their ongoing compliance with New Zealand legislation and ensures they are aware of any changes to obligations;
- Produces an environmental policy statement;
- Understands the scope of their EMS (i.e., are there any parts of the organisation that need to be excluded from the EMS and why);
- Exhibits no non-compliances with New Zealand’s applicable health and safety and environmental legislation.