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Published: 2007-04-24 00:00:00

Last December, Hamilton construction company Livingstone was among the first five Waikato businesses to join New Zealand’s new EnviroSmart Programme.

Managed by Landcare Research, the programme helps businesses cut waste, use energy and water more efficiently and improve health and safety practices. It is supported by the Ministry for the Environment and local councils, including Environment Waikato.

Signing up was an easy decision for Livingstone’s business development manager Greg Johnston.

“It’s good for the environment, it’s helping to create a better future for my kids and at the end of the day it makes good business sense,” he said.

“Other companies who have been through the programme have saved hundreds of thousands of dollars.”

Fonterra, which has saved at least $1.5 million a year in waste reduction at one processing site, is among a growing list of New Zealand companies that have registered with the scheme.

Environment Waikato is currently looking to recruit 10 new businesses for EnviroSmart and will approach potential candidates via a letter campaign this week.

Waikato companies will be offered the opportunity to take part for $4100-4600 plus GST – half what the programme normally costs.

“At a time when newspapers are filled with stories about the need to improve environmental performance, this is a great opportunity for Waikato businesses to think globally and act locally,” said Environment Waikato’s Environment Committee chair Paula Southgate.

Marianna Tyler from Hamilton-based consultancy GreenUp Ltd is the regional EnviroSmart consultant leading Livingstone and four other Waikato companies through the EnviroSmart Programme.

She has been working with Livingstone project champion Kim Green to introduce new systems at one of the company’s Te Rapa construction sites.

“We’re reducing petrol costs through better planning and cutting waste through simple strategies, such as separating surplus materials into piles so everyone can see how much we have on site,” Ms Green said.

“Recycling is making a big difference. We used to throw virtually all our waste, except wood, into skips, which are paid for by weight at the landfill. Now we’re recycling everything we can – cardboard, plastic wrap and even concrete blocks, which get crushed and reused as aggregate. It’s been incredible seeing how many glass and plastic bottles go into the recycling bins from people’s lunches alone.”

The thing that’s most surprised Ms Green about the programme is how enthusiastic her colleagues have been.

“It’s not just another hassle; people actually want to do it. And it’s changed the way I think about waste at home too. We’ve started recycling and we’ve cut our rubbish down from two chocka bags every week to one. It’s amazing, it’s really cool.”

Ms Tyler said EnviroSmart offered businesses the necessary hands-on support and tools to really make changes.

“It’s a very practical programme and it offers ongoing support from your consultant, who is there to help you implement changes over the entire two-year period.”

To find out about the EnviroSmart programme, please call Marianna Tyler on (07) 843 9872 or 029 871 9338.