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ecommunication autumn 2014

Growing up greener

Forest protection strengthened Familiar face for new video Pass the hemp Innovator of the year

news from environmental choice new zealand


The future of trust “It means integrity.” That simple, straightforward comment to me from Croxley's Tony de Felice at the 2014 stakeholders’ meeting sums up the strength of the Environmental Choice symbol on a product or service. It reflects the consumer trust level once again evidenced in our latest Colmar Brunton survey: no other New Zealand-based ecolabel surveyed is trusted more than Environmental Choice. The label continues to have a positive influence on most purchase decisions wherever it is seen and recognised. According to Cottonsoft Country Manager Kim Calvert, his company investigated the ecolabels in the market and found one thing set Environmental Choice apart. “It's recognition. We found that two thirds of our consumers recognised the Environmental Choice logo. It was higher than any other of the certification logos that we tested”. This brings me to question why all licensees are not emblazoning their products with the wellrecognised and trusted seal of Environmental Choice. Most will attest that the mark is not easily won, so that success is worth promoting. While the logo focuses the mind of the buyer, many licensees tell us that the benefits surely go further – the symbol, we are told, stands internally and externally as a beacon for their ethical company culture, meaning sustainability, safety and health are embodied in their ethos. As the baby boomers pass the “mass consumer” baton on to Gen Y, there is empirical evidence that sustainability is a strong and increasing motivation for their lifestyles and spending. International market research shows that their choice of service


providers, even in services such as banks and airlines, is significantly influenced by the perception of sustainability. So, this adds another question: why are eco-ethical service companies from all sectors not advancing their next-generation appeal with the relatively straightforward process of assessment to be an Environmental Choice “Green Office”. Approval comes with the right to use the influential and well-recognised logo (duly annotated) on all office-originated documents and imagery that brand their business. Along the way it provides a confidential, coached experience to engage and focus staff in their environmentally better office operations. The choices made by Generations X, Y and Millennials, as they demand responsible services, from government, commerce and manufacturing, will form part of the solution to our obviously growing global and Pacific environmental challenges. Environmental Choice is working to address its message to these future-holders. I believe they are grasping a truth that sadly still evades some older tenants of their planet - that sustainability refers not just to objects and services, but to life itself. Let's show them the planet-andtick symbol clearly and proudly, facilitating their inclination to make an environmental choice. Michael Hooper Editor


Reaching Out

Clean Ideas

As part of the ongoing outreach of the label, Robin Taylor made a presentation to staff at the New Zealand Environmental Protection Authority [EPA], on Ecolabelling in general and Environmental Choice New Zealand specifically. He says there was a desire to understand the programme more clearly, and how it benefits the Environment.

The April edition of Green Ideas magazine is full of environmental tips, and includes a test of dishwashing powders, among which are Environmental Choice certified products. Be sure to read the results, says editor Greg Roughan, “to see which eco-dishwash powders that we tested actually work!”. The issue also looks at how you can build a house for $24,000 (not a typo!) and discovers a waterless washing machine. Among the innovations revealed is a new battery that's made from moss.

A group of over thirty staff took time out to attend. “The number of and quality of questions was a good reflection of their understanding and certainly confirmed their interest,” says Robin. Accompanied on his Wellington visits by account manager Francesca Lipscombe, Robin has also updated other government agencies, including sections of MFAT and the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment. “We are delighted that more and more people in Government are gaining a greater insight into the programme,” he reports.

Go Green Expo The consumer and trade show is in Auckland over the weekend 4-6 April, and includes some ECNZ product providers. We would like to thank the organisers for their offer to discount the show entry price by 50 percent for Environmental Choice newsletter readers – simply enter the promo code “Friend” when buying tickets on-line from The show will be in Wellington 7-9 November, and plans to visit Christchurch next year, says organiser Damien Hochberg.

New SBN Directory The Sustainable Business Network is due to launch its new-look member directory which allocates space for full profiles on-line in the SBN website. They are requesting that sustainability-related certifications be listed and ECNZ members should indicate this and request the logo placement for any relevant products. Fiona Stephenson is the contact (


the new

buyer Businesses need to provide for the increasing needs, desires and purchasing power of Gen Y, says Colmar Brunton chief executive Jacqueline Ireland.


Gen Y-ers (now aged 13 to 29) will increasingly be the people we deal with in marketing and procurement. And they are different, perhaps in a good way, suggests recent New Zealand research. “They are increasingly aware of their impact on the world, and choosing the sustainable option,” says Colmar Brunton chief executive Jacqueline Ireland. Her comments coincide with the research company's latest findings that Environmental Choice continues to positively influence the purchasing decisions of New Zealanders aged 18 years and over. The message is clear, says ECNZ account manager Francesca Lipscombe. “If you want to grow your product and service into coming generations of consumers, you need to match their expectations of sustainability, and trust for that is firmly signified for New Zealanders by the logo of Environmental Choice.” Six out of ten New Zealanders who see and recognise the label of Environmental Choice are more likely to choose the product over others, finds Colmar Brunton. This result (February 2014) is similar to the findings of two years earlier. The latest survey reinforced that consumers perceive ECNZ to be more trustworthy than any other New Zealand-based ecolabel, with a similar

level of trust to the iconic Fair Trade label. Indeed, ECNZ was seen as a stronger environmental guarantee than even the respected, international Energy Star label. “Providing a strong environmental guarantee is an area where ECNZ tops the list of leading brands,” says Colmar Brunton. Ms Ireland says New Zealand is witnessing the beginning of a "seismic generational shift" that would continue to drive sustainability. "Being sustainable is the choice of Gen Y," she said. "It is a generation that will rival the size of the boomers, and their decades of heaviest consumption are still ahead of them." More than three-quarters of the group bought “eco-friendly” cleaning products. The sustainability survey showed that 62 percent of Gen Y-ers were happy to pay a slight premium more for ethically produced products and 95 percent of them wanted all environmental and sustainability information when making a purchase. In the general population there was even greater willingness to pay a bit more (61 percent). Sustainability has become more mainstream. “Businesses must cater to Kiwis' growing sustainability concerns or be left behind,” says Colmar Brunton.

Pass the hemp but only if it’s green Paper made with hemp, stone, mushrooms and bamboo is being given attention as we propose toughening up standards for awarding the Environmental Choice seal of approval to paper products. Alternatives to wood fibre, such as hemp, mushrooms, bamboo, straw, bagasse (sugar cane waste fibre) and minerals bring additional, new concerns which are covered in proposed changes. Bamboo is becoming more popular as a fibre, and we are paying attention to the habitat it forms for a number of endangered species such as the Giant Panda, Mountain gorilla, many species of Amazon birdlife and the bamboo lemur. Some species of bamboo are themselves threatened. Overall, the proposed changes will clarify and firm up the exacting position of Environmental Choice regarding the harvesting, milling and further


processing of paper pulp, in order to safeguard the environment. “Poor forest management leads to destruction of valuable ecosystems, and the draft changes reflect this concern. We want to raise the level of evidence we will accept from paper manufacturers who wish to have product certified in New Zealand as better for the environment.” Sustainable management of forests is an issue of much concern and debate internationally. The revision also reaffirms the label's position on vague terms such as “biodegradable” which may now be seen as simply greenwash, unless given further definition such as “readily biodegradable”. The Ecolabelling Trust has been seeking public, expert and industry comment. The revisions cover packaging, cardboard, newsprint, hygiene and office papers and stationery.

Rock Film Paper brighteners used.” He adds that the paper is comprised of 81 percent stone powder (CaCO3), is photo-degradable and creates no toxic smoke if burned. Rock Star could well be the name for the Stone Paper Company's product, judging by media forays which extend from the glam of Las Vegas to the animated world of a single Kiwi cow determined to make a difference! The waterproof paper makers made a big splash in the party world of Aqua Cabana magazine, whose models enjoyed pool-proof reading (pictured). It's the waterproof quality of the rich mineral paper that has made it favoured for outdoor printing such as tourist maps in New Zealand. Meantime, back on the Kiwi farm, 12-year-old Sarah Risdale (left with director Andrew Adamson and Alan Good) has won a Rockstock-sponsored prize for animated drama with a cute short animated film “Cows and Cleaner Dairying”. Presented at the end of last year, the two-minute film won a category in The Outlook for Someday film festival, which is also supported by ECNZ licensee The EcoStore.

Director Alan Good comments, “stone paper saved over 20 million trees from being cut last year, and 135 billion gallons of fresh water was saved. No solid, airborne or water borne waste was generated, and waste stone was utilised for raw material, with no acid, base or bleach or optical


New Zealand’s first

Net Zero Energy commercial building

The installation of 48 solar panels on the roof of the Freeman's Bay (Auckland) building which houses the ecostore retail shop is resulting in New Zealand's first net zero energy commercial building, says the company's research and development manager, Huia Iti. The building will run entirely on power from solar panels designed to generate over 17,500 kWh a year. The tenants will not be required to change their electricity usage behaviour to achieve the net zero energy result. The early stages of the project highlighted areas where further savings could be made so there is the possibility that the building could become a net positive energy building. Ecostore's not-for-profit arm, Fairground Foundation, has been instrumental in this project coming to life, says founder and owner Malcolm Rands. “The Fairground Foundation has been set up to take on projects that have traditionally been seen as too hard, making them commercially viable and then passing the learning back to the general community. This project fits in perfectly, and has taken over 14 months”. A fixed monthly fee is all that is required for the solar services, says Jon Ramage, the building's joint landlord. “We look upon this investment as a commercially viable long term solution that costs

no more than purchasing the same amount of power from the local grid. In addition I believe it adds value to the building.” The system allows solar power to be intelligently integrated into energy supplier Vector's electricity network. By combining solar panels with battery storage and a smart control system, the energy produced from the panels can be stored and used both when it is needed in the building and during times of peak network demand. The batteries also provide a measure of resilience with some backup in the unlikely event of a grid outage. Vector currently operates a solar pilot residential programme with a limited number of Auckland homeowners, one of which is the Rands' own household. Vector CEO Simon Mackenzie says his company is leading in this area. “In New Zealand now, the cost of solar continues to fall. Our research shows that giving people real time feedback about their usage leads to lower consumption.” “We've been solar energy efficient at home, carbon neutral at the ecostore East Tamaki factory, and now carbon positive (in summer) at ecostore. It's a great feeling to know you are doing the right thing,” says Malcolm Rands.

The end of lifeapproaches

By coincidence, it was Ash Wednesday when the Trust released details of a draft specification for the “End of Life (ICT)”. By another coincidence, a recent movie (“Her”) dealt with the relationship that can develop between a person and their operating system, but the ASCI to Ashes scenario addressed by this draft will help many companies deal with the day when DOS turns to dust, as their computer is consigned to the eco afterlife. Until now, New Zealand has not had a locallybased, trusted certification to help consumers and businesses decide whom they can trust to dispose of their IT equipment, taking full account of its earthly legacy. Now, in the face of rising WEEE (waste electronic and electrical equipment), Environmental Choice is coming to the rescue. The NZ Ecolabelling Trust is asking equipment users to virtually make a will for their PC or other ICT device before it shuffles off its transformer coil, by choosing a responsible e-undertaker. Candidate companies will be able to undergo assessment of their practices, including the complete disposal chain, and if passed they can display the Environmental Choice certification showing that IT in their care is recycled or retired in peace. The draft is open for submission until mid April, then, after consideration of comments, a scheme will be set in stone to bring closure to those who want certainty about the environmental life-after-death of their I.T. equipment. The death of a device is a serious business. The Ministry for the Environment says e-waste (WEEE) is the fastest growing type of city waste in the world, but it's also a resource from which to recover valuable resources. Desktop and notebook


computers alone in New Zealand accounted for five million sales between 1994 and 2007, and many of these will be on their last legs. Arsenic, asbestos, chlorine, cobalt, lead and mercury are just a few of the damaging substances that may be in electronic waste. The leaching of these materials into the environment is absolutely toxic to planet and people. We are talking cancer, spleen, liver and heart damage. Without controlled disposal and verified chain of custody during removal, recycling or destruction, this mounting ewaste has the potential to be a major human health hazard and to burden or poison the environment at some point. Although there are more hazards than those in computing equipment, the proposed standard specifically addresses ICT devices. Environmental Choice has worked to form a draft standard which should be achievable for IT disposers and recyclers, and be effective in defining an environmentally better bereavement for gadgets past their use-by date. Then New Zealand will have an answer to the age-old question - at least in terms of I.T. - about that final journey and the end of life-cycle.


IDEAL house stars

ECNZ Green in a


“Boy next door” Matt Gibb is stepping outside his “Tech in a Sec” television role to help the label bring the urgency of making environmental choices to a younger audience. “I think it's fantastic what Environmental Choice is doing, and I want to help in any way I can,” Matt told the annual stakeholder meeting, via a video link to a field where he was filming a new series, 'There and Back' for TVNZ's Heartland channel. Since his early days as a children's TV host he has been occasional host of Good Morning, the Lotto draw and produced and presented U Live, so his face is well known to younger audiences. Matt is very conscious of recycling and the environment generally. The short film explaining the need for transparent and authoritative eco-labels, and profiling ECNZ, will be made available to environmentally aware schools, and will also be edited for YouTube so it can be linked to both the ECNZ and licensee websites. A version will be available to licensees for inclusion in their sales training. It is expected to be available later in the year.


It's a house that won't need heaters. Murray and Lee Ann Durbin hope to complete their 8 Homestarrated IDEAL house in Auckland in May this year. Environmental Choice products are, of course, among its chosen materials making it look stunning and helping its energy-efficient environment. Airtight construction is one of the reasons they will need very little power from the grid with a planned minimum 20 degree internal temperature achieved naturally throughout the seasons. Murray was introduced to passive houses and the airtight concept seven years ago, and he's an evangelist for the membrane-sealed concept. “In many respects we're far behind the rest of the world,” he says, as he prepares for the blow test that will prove his “air worthiness”. Without being air tight, homes in many countries cannot receive a code of compliance certificate. Most New Zealand homes “leak air like sieves,” says Murray, who went into the building industry from school. Firth's ECNZ Enviro-crete is the key component of their inventive building platform which is vital to the building's performance. Naturally ECNZ products are being considered for the kitchen and wall interiors, and Dulux paints are turning the outside into a show stopper. The couple and their children, currently aged three and six years, will be sharing their lives with the world for the next two years as they hold regular “open home sessions. “One of the reasons we are doing this is to help New Zealanders build better houses,” says Murray.

Dexion speaks volumes - quietly

Library shelving by Dexion has been integral to the renewal of Sydney University's largest library facility. The Fisher Library was opened in 1963 when the university had 14,000 students. With that number now around 50,000, making 1.3 million visits a year, the renewal project presented huge logistical challenges for relocating and returning

books and upgrading their shelving. Pictured is the Faculty of Law library with their ECNZ certiďŹ ed shelving that was completed in 2009. This led to involvement in the Fisher library over 2012 and 2013, says product manager Nick Sangwine.

The missing Linked You are invited to join the conversations on the Environmental Choice LinkedIn group. This has been established to provide licensees, and others interested in ecolabelling, with the opportunity to discuss and debate all things sustainable. It offers a forum to share the many successes of our licensees here in New Zealand and to bring to your attention relevant and interesting news from around the globe.


The group was established in February and has grown steadily, especially in the last month, to a membership of over 50. In order to maintain control, and ensure the privacy of members, the group is invitation-only, with requests for membership being reviewed by the manager.

New companions are welcome at:

Protection strengthened for

forests & waters

We're pulling the plug on detergents that have serious negative environmental effects. With river and creek water degradation high in public awareness, and also the subject of recent warnings from the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, it's time to toughen up further on products that put unnecessary chemicals literally into the waste stream. We've done just that by imposing further limits on the washing, laundry and cleaning products that can bear the Environmental Choice sign. The changes include a ban on phosphates and controlling the use of palm oil and palm kernel oil where it cannot be proven sustainable. The standards also prohibit or limit concentrations of many chemicals, such as those used to create smells such as “lemon fresh” or musk, and brighteners used to create a “whiter than whiter” appearance. Where terms like “natural” or “plant based” are used, they must be explained. All plastic packaging must be recyclable.

The changes have been made after consultation with manufacturers, says Robin Taylor. “That shows there is a genuine desire to face these issues. Not all products that presently carry or aim to carry the label will meet the new standards but producers are aware that Environmental Choice must operate at the top of technology and environmental rigour. The consumer trusts this label more than any other New Zealand ecolabel and we intend to honour that trust.” Any presently licensed general cleaning products, laundry detergents and hand dishwashing detergents that may not immediately meet the new standards are being given 12 months to reformulate if necessary.

Innovator of the year Cottonsoft, a paper company that has reviewed and verified its supply chain “right down to the last tree”, has received our annual innovation award for 2014. Independent environmental scientists examined every new Environmental Choice ecolabel holder to assess innovation in environmental benefits, the changes they made in order to meet the label's stringent standards, the ingenuity of their label application, and the thoroughness of their dealings with the ecolabel. “Cottonsoft scored well ahead of many other very worthy label holders,” notes Robin Taylor. “They were especially impressive in their willingness to embed changes that put them in the forefront of environmental practice.” Cottonsoft gained approval to carry the Environmental Choice seal on its toilet tissue in May last year, after far-reaching and rigorous assessments. This involved helicopter surveillance and on-the-ground checking of forests off-shore where the company sources its wood for paper pulp, says Robin. The level of authenticity demanded by all the ecolabel's standards is a reflection of its international reputation as a tough, transparent, and respected member of the Global Ecolabelling Network (GEN). New Zealanders trust the Environmental Choice certification, says Robin, because it questions in minute detail the significant environmental impacts of a product from the raising of the components through to their final return to the planet. “Our seal is absolutely robust, its investigations process is without favour, and is


not easily attained. To have Cottonsoft independently awarded as the most innovative Environmental Choice new licensee of the year further backs the authenticity of their impressive and compelling environmental commitment.” Country manager Kim Calvert (pictured above with ECNZ Chair Richard Tong) accepted the certificate at the annual stakeholders' briefing, and commented how valuable the process and awarding of the license had been in the company's relationships with its suppliers. He also believes Environmental Choice offers a unique endorsement, well-recognised by consumers. “We looked at the market to see what set the Environmental Choice standard apart, and that is consumer recognition. It's a third-party endorsement that our business does operate sustainably. It also helps us achieve a consistent environmental focus and we use it as the basis for our product development.”

A recent television commercial for Cottonsoft features the Environmental Choice seal.

Queen speaks Known as the Queen of Productivity, Debbie Mayo-Smith shared her tips for reducing wasted office effort with the gathered licensees at Eden Park in February. Debbie especially addressed the email overload we all seem to suffer, and gave away copies of her book on the subject. “I did find the meeting useful and interesting, said Michelle Thompson, who attended for auditors Lynch Phibbs. “Debbie Mayo-Smith had some great tips for everyone. The venue is great and the food is yummy.” For those who couldn't attend, there will be exerpts of Debbie's presentation made available shortly via the ECNZ website and through her own site Robin Taylor spoke of the need to energise eco-marketing of licensee brands by using the ecolabel, while Michael Hooper outlined the marketing philosophy and the need for using “the buzz” of social media to spread and amplify the stakeholder value from the label.

Green muscles

Cabinet Minister and Auckland MP Nikki Kaye sprinted into Les Mills on the cusp of Christmas to present the company with a plaque to mark New Zealand's first Green Office. Les Mills were also first out of the blocks with Fitness Centre licences for four of their gyms. “Les Mills has a proud history of being an environmental champion and a leader over a long period of time,” said Nikki Kaye, adding how easy it is to underestimate the work that has to go into bringing a supply chain along on the environmental journey. “For some people it's quite a big shift.” Presenting the brass plaque to Les Mills general manager Dione Forbes (pictured, left) the Minister revealed that, like many Kiwis, she is no stranger to fitness regimes.


“There are many New Zealanders who feel passionate about the environment. Those organisations and businesses that can win in the future are those that hold their heads up high with their values. This is an absolutely natural fit for what the gym is; it's a real tribute to the organisation and to the staff here that you are the first official Green Office in New Zealand,” she told staff. “I think it's great that it is in the heart of Auckland, one of our most intensified areas, that we see Les Mills leading the way from an environmental perspective. Being the first official Green Office is something that no-one can take away from Les Mills, ever.” The first media organisation to commit to the Green Office assessment is also based in the Auckland area.

to ceiling Stars from slab

Environmental Choice certified products are helping add Homestar rating points from floor to ceiling, says the NZ Green Building Council which operates the scheme. Homestar is the only residential rating tool that evaluates the environmental attributes and performance efficiency of New Zealand homes. The rating can be used as a guide to build greener homes above existing code (which is an equivalent 4 Homestar rating), while providing long-term benefits in saving energy and water usage. The scale extends to 10 stars. “Our rating system is used by trained professionals to verify the warmth, dryness, comfort and performance parameters of the home,” says Homestar Director Leigh Featherstone (right). “It can be considered in the design phase for new builds and for major renovations. The certified built rating can then be used to demonstrate a value premium above the building code, which could be particularly useful when selling.” An increasing number of good examples of high quality, sustainable homes are coming to market, including three new more affordable homes at Hobsonville Point, recently unveiled by Housing Minister Nick Smith, that are 6 Homestar – and priced at $450,000. “There's a commonly-held myth that you can't build sustainable, highperforming homes to meet a modest budget. These homes disprove that – they're high quality, sustainable and affordable,” says Leigh Featherstone.

“Auckland faces real issues in terms of home affordability. These houses tackle that on two fronts – not only are they priced reasonably, but at 6 Homestar they'll cost less to live in for years to come, with lower energy and water costs. They'll also be warm and dry, so won't contribute to health issues which can affect family wellbeing and become costly.” Among the sustainability features which contribute to the Homestar rating are the specification and use of responsibly sourced eco-preferred materials that have a lower environmental impact. Homestar uses third party verification of product, such as the ECNZ eco-label, to confirm compliance. Products that have the relevant ECNZ rating include slab-edge, ceiling and wall insulation, plasterboard, NZ Steel and low VOC (volatile organic compound) finishes such as certified paints. Other sustainable features that have contributed to the 6 Homestar rating include heat pump water heating, energy-efficient lighting (CFLs) with no downlights, rainwater tanks plumbed into the laundry and water-efficient toilets, low E glazing, and the recycling of 70 percent of construction waste. For advice on improvements for existing home owners, a service is provided via a membership program, myHomestar, which costs $15 for an annual subscrip on. You can register here.

Environmental Choice New Zealand is operated by the NZ Ecolabelling Trust for the people and government of New Zealand. The trust receives no government funding. Proudly a member of the Global Ecolabelling Network, it is a “type 1" ecolabel as defined by the ISO, developing and using the world’s strongest environmental performance standards to independently test products and services seeking to carry its seal. Environmental Choice is the most trusted New Zealand based ecolabel (Colmar Brunton survey 2014). General manager Robin Taylor: robin (at) Account manager Francesca Lipscombe: francesca (at) Executive assistant Alex Williams: alex (at) Communications: Michael Hooper: media (at) PO Box 56-533, Mt Eden, Auckland 1446, New Zealand. Phone +64 (0)9 845 3330

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Ecommunication autumn 2014 final edition  

The biannual magazine of Environmental Choice New Zealand Autumn 2014