Villa Maria Estate Limited: a Toitū carbonreduce case study

Villa Maria Estate logoEnvironmental responsibility is inherent in Villa Maria’s everyday business. They chose the Toitū carbonreduce certification programme to ensure their commitment to ongoing improvement in environmental practices. Since they initially achieved certification in 2010, participation in the Toitū carbonreduce programme has enabled them to reduce their carbon footprint by 25% per bottle of wine, whilst the business has grown.

Building an environmentally friendly foundation for business

Villa Maria Estate wineryVilla Maria is a large, family owned wine company with a strong commitment to the environment and a desire to leave behind something positive for the next generation. With multiple wineries, vineyards, brands and over 300 employees – making great wine while minimising their environmental footprint, is not a destination but an ongoing journey.

Villa Maria has a strong foundation of environmental achievement to build upon. They hold ISO 14001 certification for their environmental management system, have been a member of Sustainable Winegrowing New Zealand (SWNZ) since inception in 1995 and were the first major New Zealand winery to achieve BioGro organic certification from the vineyard, winery and bottling line to the export warehouse. From a strong foundation of environmental commitment, Villa Maria wanted to ensure that they continued on their sustainability journey so joining the Toitū carbonreduce programme to help them reduce their carbon emissions was the next natural step.

“Villa Maria already had sustainability objectives, but Toitū carbonreduce certification has provided a structure and process for measuring, checking and improving on our environmental impacts and helping us to achieve our goals.” Fabian Yukich, Executive Director, Villa Maria Estate Limited

Focus on opportunities

Toitū carbonreduce certification has enabled Villa Maria to separate out the environmental impacts of different aspects of their business. Understanding the size of different emissions sources can inform the strategy for identifying areas for improvement.

One of their main sources of carbon emissions is freight (transport of grapes, grape juice, wine). They were able to consider alternatives to road freight in the context of the specific logistical requirements of transportation for different components. Consequently rail freight, which is more efficient and has lower emissions, is maximised.

Glass wine bottles were also identified as a significant source of carbon emissions for Villa Maria’s footprint. This discovery, at their first year of Toitū carbonreduce certification, led to a specific project focussed on reducing the emissions from bottles. As there wasn’t a good alternative to glass (due to its recyclability and wine quality considerations), Villa Maria considered how their bottles could be lighter from the standard 495 grams. They worked directly with their supplier to reduce bottle weight whilst maintaining robustness for transportation and bottling.  Bottle weights of 417 grams are now standard practice across the wine industry.

For an organisation to make real changes, all the team need to pull in the same direction. Having a strong sustainability mantra means that Villa Maria has been able to attract and retain passionate people to further drive improvements throughout the business. They started a formal company-wide training programme in continuous improvement (or lean) management principles. Now up to 80% of their staff have completed the training to actively identify efficient practices in all aspects of the business. Employees at Villa Maria appreciate the opportunity to contribute and the business can realise the benefits of their contributions in new ideas and processes.

Waste-to-landfill can be a significant source of carbon emissions for any business and Villa Maria is no different. They have implemented a recycling scheme to separate waste streams (e.g. glass, plastic, metals) to minimise contamination. In addition, all waste that is destined for landfill (non-compostable or recyclable) is weighed at the Auckland site in order to more accurately measure and monitor the amount that is generated. Understanding the amount and sources of waste sent to landfill will help identify opportunities to reduce or recycle it.

wildflowers and grape vines

Wildflowers add diversity, help the soil structure and attract beneficial insects as a natural pest control

Villa Maria Estate vehicle fleet

Villa Maria has been progressively changing its vehicle fleet to low emissions vehicles

interior Villa Maria Estate warehouse

Night air is harnessed into the warehouse to provide a natural cooling system

Carbon management for continuous improvement

Villa Maria chose the Toitū carbonreduce programme to help provide a structure for their carbon and energy management, set targets and strategically identify areas for improvement where they could reduce their emissions. Toitū carbonreduce certification ensures confidence in carbon measurement and reduction as it is internationally accredited and certified organisations meet international best practice in carbon management (ISO 14064).  Villa Maria also places significant value on independent verification, so the independent audit and certification process of Toitū carbonreduce delivers important assurance of their achievements in sustainability.

Since first achieving Toitū carbonreduce certification in 2010, Villa Maria have reduced their carbon emissions by 25% per bottle of wine whilst growing their business with the increasing world-wide demand for quality New Zealand wine. Maintaining their Toitū carbonreduce certification will ensure that Villa Maria meet their ongoing commitment to sustainability.

George Fistonich, Villa Maria Estate

“At Villa Maria, we believe in the sustainability journey, not the end point. Toitū carbonreduce certification through Toitū Envirocare ensures we are continuously measuring our carbon footprint and finding ways to reduce our impact on an ongoing basis”

George Fistonich, Founder and Owner, Villa Maria Estate Limited

For further information

Villa Maria Estate

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About Villa Maria Estate Limited

Villa Maria Estate logo

Villa Maria is New Zealand’s most awarded winery for over 30 years. They have focussed on making superior quality wine that consumers can readily enjoy.

As an icon of the New Zealand wine industry, Villa Maria are known for bold and industry-changing moves such as moving to 100% screwcap through to the emphasis on sustainable practices in every area of the family owned company.

Throughout the 1960s Villa Maria was a one-man band, with George’s wife, Gail, supporting him in his venture. He made dry red and white wines, sourcing grapes from the greater Auckland regions. In the early 1970s he started to employ staff and the company began to expand rapidly.

Today, Villa Maria employs more than 250 permanent staff and exports wine to over 50 countries worldwide.

CEMARS LogoToitū carbonreduce certified organisations

(formerly known as CEMARS)

This certification is awarded to companies that are actively working to measure and manage their carbon footprint.

To achieve Toitū carbonreduce certification, an organisation must measure their organisation’s full greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions (also known as a carbon footprint) so they understand what their impact is on the global climate. They measure all operational emissions required under the international standard for carbon footprints, ISO 14064, 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 manage and reduce their emissions continually. As part of achieving Toitū carbonreduce certification, the organisation needs to achieve emissions reductions on a five year cycle.