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Huge response to sustainable business awards

Huge response to sustainable business awards

Bay of Plenty businesses are showing “tremendous support” for the sustainable business awards being run for the second year in the region.

More than 150 small, medium and large businesses have so far sought application forms for the Environment Bay of Plenty Sustainable Business Awards, for which nominations close on Friday April 23.

Set up by the Bay of Plenty branch of the Sustainable Business Network, the awards will recognise local businesses that are working towards economic, environmental and social sustainability.

Coordinator Calum Revfem describes the response as “extremely positive” – and very heartening.

“We really didn’t expect to get so much unsolicited interest,” he says. “All these businesses that are obviously already doing great things are just popping up out of the woodwork.”

Many view the awards as an opportunity for improving their business, he says.

"All organisations that enter will benefit from it. We have an impressive judging team of successful business owners and others who work closely with businesses throughout the country. And they will provide a report for each entrant identifying areas that can be improved," he says.

SBN Bay of Plenty Chairman, and Comvita executive director, Alan Bougen agrees that the awards are a good way for businesses to learn how to become more sustainable. Sustainability has huge environmental and social benefits but it is also just good business practice, he says.

"It is fast being recognised throughout the world that, if we are to be sustainable, business practice will need to change and we will no longer be able to concentrate solely on the traditional economic bottom line.”

But sustainability can save money too. A study of New Zealand companies taking part in a Target Zero Waste programme in the late 1990s showed that both large and small firms benefited by improving environmental management.

A six-person Wellington panel-beating firm saved $550 a month in spray paint and thinners as a result of an environmental programme

A very large North Island dairy factory saved $230,000 a year and earned another $5 million a year as a result of environmental improvements.

Griffins Foods in Manukau City spent $10,000 to reduce water use, also reducing trade waste volumes. It now saves over $80,000 a year in trade waste charges and more than $24,000 annually in water charges.

The Environment Bay of Plenty Sustainable Business Awards are the first in the country to recognise both environmental and social responsibility as components of sustainable business. Winners will automatically enter the national New Zealand Sustainable Business Awards being run by the Sustainable Business Network later this year.

Mr Bougen says the event's purpose is to foster sustainable business practices in Bay of Plenty businesses. In this context, sustainability means being able to "meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs".

An impressive line-up of judges includes Jill Hamlyn (Chairman Biogrow) Chris Morrison (Phoenix Foods managing director), Murray Davies (chairman Priority One), Colin Higgins (Corporate Responsibility Lecturer at Massey University) Bill Bayfield, (Director Sustainable Industries Ministry for the Environment), Sarah Trotman, economic development adviser and Janet Takurangi, Regional Economic Development Advisor NZTE).

There are two new categories in the Awards this year: Sustainable Economic Development and Innovation.

The Sustainable Economic Development category recognises organisations within the region that are contributing to the economic sustainability of the Bay of Plenty.

“There are many great initiatives that are often not seen by many people and these Awards are a great opportunity to showcase these successful programmes,” says Mr Bougen.

Environment Bay of Plenty is major sponsor of the awards, with the University of Waikato Management School, New Zealand Trade and Enterprise, Rotorua District Council and TrustPower sponsoring different business categories. Support is also being provided by Bay of Plenty Times.

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