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Outstanding contributions to the environment

3 June 2008 Media Statement
Embargoed until 8pm

Outstanding contributions to the environment recognised

This year’s Green Ribbon Awards honour outstanding contributions to the environment, and tonight’s award ceremony marks the beginning of events celebrating New Zealand’s hosting of World Environment Day, said Prime Minister Helen Clark and Environment Minister Trevor Mallard.

The awards recognise the outstanding contributions of individuals, community organisations, businesses, and local government to sustaining and enhancing New Zealand’s unique environment.

"Tonight’s ceremony doubles as the opening event for New Zealand’s hosting of World Environment Day on Thursday 5 June. During the week, communities throughout our country will showcase what they are doing to protect our environment, raise awareness of environmental issues and make a difference to our overall wellbeing. There are lots of events for the public to get involved in," Helen Clark said.

"Our congratulations go to this year’s Green Ribbon Award winners, who through their actions show just how innovative, resourceful, and dedicated people can make a difference for the better. I can think of no better way to kick off World Environment Day celebrations than to honour some of our most committed carers for the environment," Helen Clark and Trevor Mallard said.

The Green Ribbon Award categories this year have been expanded from six to nine to reflect the many different areas in which New Zealanders make contributions to a better environment. The winners of each category are:
• Making a difference to household sustainability: Envirocomp Limited, Canterbury
• Urban sustainability: Waitakere City Council
• Sustainable land use: Starborough Flaxbourne Soil Conservation Group, Marlborough
• Community action for the environment – young people: Te Piataata Trust, Waitakere
• Community action for the environment – volunteers and not-for-profit organisations: CANZ eDay (Computer Access New Zealand)
• Businesses making a difference: The Langham Hotel, Auckland
• Innovative solutions for the environment: Resene PaintWise
• Environment in the spotlight: Horizons Regional Council Green Rig Environmental Educators, Palmerston North
• Lifetime commitment to the environment: Dean Schneider

"Everyone has a part to play in caring for the environment, and these winners have set great examples of what can be achieved. With dedication and sheer hard work, they are championing environmental issues in their homes, schools, communities and businesses," Trevor Mallard said.


2008 Green Ribbon Award recipients

Category: Lifetime Commitment to the Environment
Winner: Dean Schneider
Region: Dunedin

To celebrate New Zealand’s primary involvement in World Environment Day 2008, a lifetime achievement award will go to an outstanding individual to recognise their long term commitment to protecting and enhancing New Zealand’s unique environment.

Dean Schneider, over a long period of time, has dedicated himself to helping young people achieve their potential and encouraging them to develop their environmental knowledge and skills.

Dean has been involved in a wide variety of environmental education projects including teaching, selecting young environmental leaders for awards, youth environment forums, leading international delegations, photography and music and video production. Through his work Dean's enthusiasm has inspired many New Zealander’s. Dean’s extreme amount of enthusiasm and selflessness has benefited both the environment and those who work with him.

Dean moved to New Zealand in 1981 from North America. In 1985 he became a full time natural history photographer and writer. He donated many photos of the hoiho (yellow eyed penguin) to both the Forest and Bird Society and The World Wide Fund for Nature. As a result both NGO’s started campaigns to save the penguin.

Because of Dean’s drive and energy, the United Nations Environment Programme awarded Dunedin the right to hold the International Children’s Conference on the Environment in 1998. He convinced the late Sir Edmund Hillary, the late Sir Peter Blake and Dame Catherine Tizard to be patrons of the conference and raised over $300,000. He used his savings to support himself for approximately 18 months while he worked on the conference. Due to unforeseen circumstances the conference was cancelled and all the funds were returned to sponsors.

Dean has written, produced and directed a number of conservation and environmental publications targeted particularly at a young audience. He has also co-authored a number of magazine articles in New Zealand and overseas.

Dean is also a qualified practising primary school teacher who actively incorporates environmental education in to his teaching curriculum.

These are a few examples of Mr Schneider’s commitment to the environment. It is clear from Mr Schneider’s letters of support that he works to improve the environment on a local, national and international level.

Category: Urban Sustainability

Winner: Waitakere City Council
Region: Waitakere Central

Awarded for outstanding contributions to urban sustainability, particularly practical action to improve the environment in our towns and cities.

Waitakere City Council has made an outstanding contribution to urban sustainability through its series of urban projects intended to enhance sustainability. Their efforts have culminated in the Waitakere Central development in the town centre of Henderson, Waitakere City. 700 staff moved into the building in mid-2006.

As a symbol and beacon for its intention to encourage people to avoid travelling long distances to work by private vehicle, the council re-sited its headquarters in the Henderson town centre, alongside the railway station. The bus interchange was relocated nearby to form a public transport hub.

The site for Waitakere Central was deliberately chosen for its potential to reduce traffic congestion and greenhouse gas emissions from private transport. Its close proximity to buses, trains and the council’s developing network of cycle and walkways encourages staff to leave their cars at home.

The Waitakere Central building was designed on sustainability principles, using the council’s own Better Building Code as a basis for the brief. Waitakere Central has a six storey administration wing and civic wing. The civic wing has a ‘green roof’ with drought-tolerant plants that filter and slow the flow of rain. The administration wing uses passive solar design and admits daylight into the interior. Low-energy ventilation and energy efficient lighting is also used in the building. It has solar water heating and a micro wind turbine, a worm farm and a recycling system for all wastes.

The council has an active workplace travel plan, with rewards for people who use public transport, walk and cycle. People who car-pool get priority car-parking on site.

Waitakere Central won an Excellence Award in the 2007 New Zealand Property Council Awards, in both the Urban Design category and the Special Purpose Building category.

The development of Waitakere Central has enhanced and upgraded public transport facilities with assistance from several transport bodies. The development has delivered new customers for the neighbouring town centre, made it easier for visitors to access, and is a catalyst for further economic development on and near the site.

This development and the council’s previous projects – libraries and community centres, each enhancing their location – demonstrate to private developers and other councils how good design enhances a city’s fabric and people’s quality of life.

Waitakere Central is toured by groups including architects, design students, diplomats and other consultants allowing others to learn about the value of well thought-out sustainable urban development.

Category: Sustainable Land Use

Winner: Starborough Flaxbourne Soil Conservation Group
Region: Marlborough

Awarded for outstanding efforts from those working in agriculture, horticulture and forestry sectors, community care groups and marae, to sustainably manage the use of our land, including practices to reduce the environmental impacts of land use, maintaining healthy waterways and lakes to improve water quality, or projects that protect and conserve water.

The Starborough Flaxbourne Soil Conservation Group was formed in 2004 to access expertise and ideas on how farmers could affordably and effectively manage their way through drought. The farmers realised that soil damage by successive years of drier than average rainfall to north facing slopes was so bad, that their future on the land was threatened. The area has always been summer-dry, but the repeated failure of critical spring and autumn rains forced drastic de-stocking which in turn reduced incomes causing community decline.

In 2005, a three-year soil conservation project was established, and jointly funded by the Sustainable Farming Fund, the NZ Landcare Trust, Marlborough District Council and Marlborough Research Centre. The primary question being addressed in this project is: "what viable options are there to arrest this erosion and restore these areas to sustainable production systems or alternative land uses?"

The group project undertook research and developed an understanding in six key areas, namely: farming systems, soils, dryland plants, human dimension, landscape options, and climate.

Integration and technology transfer are the main themes for the final year of the project (2008) that will culminate in a national field day. The group focus is to highlight sustainable farming options for farmers in dryland areas. Although based at Bonavaree, the project’s outputs will be relevant to all dryland areas in New Zealand.

The Starborough Flaxbourne Soil Conservation group focus farm at Bonaveree is an example of how to adapt to lower rainfall and also improved farm profit. The group now wishes to share their success story with other farmers in dryland New Zealand and is committed to making this possible by hosting a national field day. This is a farmer led initiative to resolve a very real issue for farming in New Zealand.

The group has identified ‘soil loss and erosion’ as an issue for dryland farmers facing a drier future through climate change and have been pro-active in finding a solution that is transferable for others with similar land and climate type.

Category: Making a Difference to Household Sustainability

Winner: Envirocomp Ltd
Region: Hurunui, Canterbury

Awarded to those organisations who, through their products, services, or educational promotion are making outstanding efforts to reduce the impact that households have on the environment including practices to reduce emissions, waste and energy use, and encouraging others to adopt good practices.

In 2007 the first commercial scale disposable nappy composting service was trialled by Karen and Karl Upston in Rangiora, North Canterbury using HotRot technology developed by Christchurch based company R5 Solutions. Based on the completed trial, the demand for this service exceeded all expectations and identified a need for a composting facility.

The trial showed that disposable nappies and incontinence products in the waste stream could be commercially composted thereby reducing pressure on landfills. The results of the five month trial from March to July 2007 have been used to develop the Huggies Envirocomp Solution which will open at the end of 2008.

Karen and Karl Upston own a business selling both disposable and cloth nappies and are very aware of the environmental impacts of both nappy streams. They decided to trial composting disposable nappies on a commercial scale and contacted R5 Solutions who manufacture the HotRot range of in-vessel composting systems. R5 Solutions were able to provide advice and guidance as well as a prototype composting unit that the Upston’s were offered for use in their trial.

R5 Solutions have designed a custom built composting facility. This is a modular in-vessel system which can compost up to ten tonnes per day. With the addition of bulking agent (wood chip/ kitchen waste/ construction and demolition waste), disposable nappies and incontinence products will be composted through R5 Solutions commercial plant.

After a specialised screening process to remove plastic contaminants, the final product will be sold to commercial gardening/ landscaping businesses, and also made available to community based projects for fundraising.

The five month trial involved over 200 families; six pre-schools the local maternity hospital, elderly residents and a Christchurch branch of the IHC. Over the five months approximately 450,000 nappies were composted, which equated to 56 tonnes of household waste.

By introducing the Envirocomp Solution in Canterbury it will divert up to 3000 tonnes of disposable nappies from landfills each year. Nappies will be collected from childcare facilities in ‘wheelie bins’ and households will be offered a weekly domestic collection using a bio-degradable bag at a subscription fee

Category: Community Action for the Environment – Young People

Winner: Te Piataata Trust
Region: Waitakere

Awarded to young people who show personal commitment to improving our environment, including, for example, through practical action at school or in the community, or through efforts they have made to increase the environmental awareness of others.

Te Piataata was formed in 2001 to provide for at risk youth in Waitakere City. Fundamental to Te Piataata’s approach in dealing with young people is the belief that if their mana is nurtured, young people will thrive when faced with a challenge. They have created an environment for encouraging growth and transformation of young people by the strong presence of Tikanga Maori (Maori cultural beliefs and practices) throughout the organisation.

Since 2005 young people from Te Piataata Trust have been actively involved in Project Twin Streams to restore the stream banks of the Swanson Stream. Over the last three years they have volunteered and continue to volunteer four hours on a weekly basis for stream restoration and planting. They have adopted significant areas of the stream banks which they have transformed from being weed infested, over grown and strewn with rubbish to being planted with eco-sourced native plants and well cared for. Young people have been involved in all aspects of the restoration from site preparation, crown lifting, planting, weeding and on-going maintenance. In 2007 the group planted a total of 3100 plants.

Te Piataata also participate in other Twin Streams activities –including supporting community planting days, talking to overseas and national visitors about the project and showing them the extent of the project from their perspective. As a result of their weekly involvement with the programme Te Piataata have become involved with water monitoring through WaiCare (a community monitoring program) and have initiated trips to the Waitakere Ranges to visit the source of the stream they are working on and to hear stories of the local iwi relating to whakapapa of the streams.

The project targets a sector of the community that benefits those who would not necessarily have environmental interests as a priority. The young people involved in the project now pass on the message at home and with peers about the elimination of noxious weeds, respect for plants and insects, disposal of rubbish and recycling, and the relationship between the drains and streams.

Category: Community Action for the Environment – Volunteers and Not-for-Profit Organisations

Winner:CANZ eDay (Computer Access New Zealand)
Region: National

Awarded to an individual or group who have a shown commitment to empowering their community to take action for the environment without financial incentive.

eDay is a community initiative designed to raise the public’s awareness of the hazardous nature of e-waste, while offering an easy way for households to dispose of old computers and mobile phones in an environmentally sustainable manner.

eDay raises community awareness of the risks that e-waste poses for our environment and encourages safe disposal practices by:
• Increasing community awareness of the hazardous nature of electronic equipment and disposal in landfills.
• Providing a mechanism and convenient collection points for consumers (households, schools, small businesses and community organisations) to drop off computer equipment and mobile phones that are no longer being used.
• Disposing of end of life computer and communications equipment in an environmentally sustainable manner.
All equipment collected as part of eDay is sorted and loaded onto pallets for transport to regional consolidation centres, where materials that can be recycled locally are extracted and the remainder transported to overseas recycling plants. With mechanised extraction facilities over 95 per cent of computer equipment can be re-used in some way.

Currently in New Zealand, there is no other nationwide event for the collection of e-waste. While there are small regional e-waste processors in New Zealand, these are user-pays centres and are not widely publicised. eDay is nationwide and free for everyone.

eDay 2007 was held in Wellington, Invercargill, Wanaka, Alexandra, Queenstown, Wanganui, Rotorua, Whakatane, Tauranga and Hamilton on Saturday 29 September and on Auckland’s North Shore and Manukau City on Sunday 30 September.

About 6,900 cars visited the 12 eDay sites around New Zealand, with more than 26,000 computer items including monitors, CPUs and printers being diverted from New Zealand’s landfills, preventing the release of the potentially toxic chemicals into the environment. The total weight of e-waste collected over the two day event was 415 tonnes.

In 2008, CANZ plans to expand eDay to more centres throughout New Zealand and provide further resources that are readily available to the public at all times, through their website eday.org.nz (such as lists of regional providers that can take care of their e-waste at any time).

Category: Businesses Making a Difference

Winner: The Langham Hotel
Region: Auckland

Awarded to businesses who demonstrate an ongoing commitment to reducing environmental impacts, through initiatives such as implementing an environmental management system, environmental reporting and encouraging other businesses and the wider community to adopt environmental practices.

The five-star hotel situated in Auckland is committed to being an environmentally sustainable hotel. Since the development of the hotel’s environmental framework in August 2007 the hotel has achieved Green Globe Benchmarked status as of September 2007. As a result of the management direction taken by the international chairman, the Langham Auckland management team and the commitment of the staff at the hotel, the hotel has achieved Green Globe certification (silver) in recognition of the Hotel’s environmental initiatives.

The Langham’s view of environmental sustainability is that it is a long term journey with every new initiative leading to several more. They are committed to growing and developing their sustainability initiatives.
The environmental policy that the hotel has in place focuses on:
• Reducing, reusing and recycling waste and packaging
• Improving the efficiency of energy usage
• Investigating and using environmentally friendly products
• Being a global leader in corporate sustainability
Core practices in place include:
• Sustainable purchasing policy
o The policy is openly communicated to suppliers. A green suppliers questionnaire has been developed in order to gauge the environmental integrity of potential suppliers.
• Greenhouse gas emissions
o The hotel is developing a carbon offsetting programme for guests with assistance from Deloitte. The hotel is continuing to convert the refrigeration plant in the hotel and kitchens to low ozone depleting refrigerant gas.
• Energy efficiency
o The hotel has installed a Building Management System which controls air units, swimming pool, sauna heating, spa pool, central lights and peak electrical demand load shedding. As part of this initiative the hotel has installed light sensors, eco lights in areas requiring 24 hour lighting, time controls on kitchen fans, and plans are in place to install solar panels to preheat incoming water.
• Solid waste management
o The hotel has a comprehensive recycling campaign in place to recycle packaging, cardboard, paper, containers, and office products. The hotel follows the waste management hierarchy policy of reduce, reuse, recycle and recover.
• Management of freshwater resources
o Educational signage has been installed for staff. A new water efficient commercial dishwashing system has been installed. The hotel uses 100 per cent biodegradable ECOLAB chemicals.
• Other environmental initiatives
o 100 per cent recyclable coat hangers have been implemented throughout the Hotel. Environmentally friendly corn starch cups for use with water dispensers are installed in the executive office, housekeeping, front office and health club. Recycled office paper is used throughout the Hotel and printer cartridges are recycled. Recycled toilet paper is also used in all areas of the Hotel.

Category: Businesses Making a Difference

Highly Commended: Auckland Zoo
Region: Auckland

Awarded to businesses who demonstrate an ongoing commitment to reducing environmental impacts, including initiatives such as implementing an environmental management system, environmental reporting and encouraging other businesses and the wider community to adopt environmental practices.

The Auckland Zoo first set goals to reduce its environmental footprint in 2001. The establishment of an environmental interest group at the Zoo in 2005 (the ‘Green Team’) has enabled the zoo to research green options, identify priority issues to address, conduct audits and implement their environmental policy.

Two of the most recent significant achievements at the zoo include gaining ISO14001 certification in December 2007 and the zoo’s partnership with Enviro-fert in Tuakau to deal with the zoo’s vegetation and organic waste. The accreditation was achieved two years ahead of the zoo’s 2009 target.

The partnership with Enviro-fert has enabled Auckland Zoo to responsibly dispose of a significant amount of organic waste not already being processed in the zoo’s industrial worm farm. This includes ‘problem’ waste, such as flax and bamboo that cannot be processed by standard composting centres. Significant amounts of recycled shredded paper (around one tonne per month) used as Orang-utan bedding was originally being sent to landfills because of the pathogens in the paper. Standard composting techniques do not reach temperatures high enough or for long enough to effectively kill pathogens that can be passed to humans. The Enviro-fert process however allows the paper to be safely composted.

The partnership with Enviro-fert, the industrial worm farm, and increased public recycling has resulted in monthly waste to landfill tonnage below the 1992 levels. This is despite an increase in animal waste collection, staff numbers and visitor numbers (around 360,000 in 1992 versus approximately 700,000 in 2007). Auckland Zoo is now sending an average three tonnes less to landfill each month.

The zoo also strives to empower its visitors to make the necessary changes to protect the environment. The zoo runs classes through their education department and keeper encounters. Educational signage about the zoo’s sustainability initiatives are also exhibited around the zoo. The zoo also communicates sustainable options to the business community via their sustainability tours.

The zoo has also installed solar and wind energy production devises to help power the new Discovery and Learning Terrace. Rainwater collection tanks have also been installed to supply water to zoo buildings and the exotic bird section of the zoo.

Category: Environment in the Spotlight

Winner: Horizons Regional Council Green Rig Environmental Educators
Region: Palmerston North

Awarded to an individual, business, group or organisation that has significantly raised the profile and awareness of caring for the environment, including national marketing campaigns, media coverage or national events.

The Green Rig is a renewable energy vehicle with on-board interactive exhibits and displays focussing on the themes of water, land and habitats. It is staffed by two environmental educators who facilitate environmental learning opportunities for a wide range of people from young children to adults. The Green Rig travels around the region providing programmes designed to assist people in their understanding of the natural environment.

The Rig was launched in May 2007 with a target of 20,000 people visiting the Rig and engaging in environmental activities in the first year of operation. It is expected that the target will be reached by the end of April. This is ten per cent of the regional population. Horizons have received positive feedback from school children, schools, the public, community leaders and politicians.

The environmental educators have influenced people in their understanding of the actions they can take to make positive changes in their lifestyles that will benefit the environment. For example preserving native habitats and biodiversity, preventing degradation of river and stream water, land owners using sustainable land management and farming practices to prevent soil erosion. The Green Rig educators encourage people to become responsible for caring for the natural environment.

The Green Rig team and the vehicle are role models in the area of environmental education. The Green Rig is fitted with energy efficient LED lighting and appliances. Energy use is monitored and managed on board. All carbon the Rig produces is offset through the planting of native trees using the Climate Conscious System. Solar energy from eight roof top panels provides 25-50 per cent of the Rig’s power needs.

Category: Innovative Solutions for the Environment

Winner: Resene PaintWise
Region: National

Awarded to an individual, business, group or organisation who have designed or produced an innovative solution that will protect, enhance or improve the environment.

The Resene PaintWise programme is a world first paint and paint packaging recovery programme. The programme now has 40 Resene Colurshops all over New Zealand that are designated PaintWise Collection Centres. Residents and painters in these centres can visit the ColourShops in these areas to return unused paint and paint packaging.

A custom built PaintWise mobile truck service visits the stores, processing the materials received before returning to its depot. Good quality Resene paint is reused and provided to community groups free of charge. Waterborne paint is reused for covering graffiti and solventborne paint goes through a solvent recovery programme and the packaging is recycled.

Several community groups have received and utilised the unwanted paint. Community groups can apply for donations of paint from the Resene PaintWise program online at www.resene.co.nz/paintwise.htm or complete and return the Community Paint registration Form from Resene ColourShops.

Resene PaintWise is one of a limited number of product stewardship programmes operating in New Zealand. The innovative service concept of a mobilising processing unit is a world first. Most paint stewardship programmes developed overseas involve paint being returned to a store then transported to a processing site for decanting by hand. The PaintWise truck has an onboard crusher that pierces the can base before crushing it flat, reducing the time taken to remove the paint from the can while also providing the cans in a less bulky form to the recycler.

The PaintWise truck also services some council depots and work has begun on rolling out the paint recovery service in selected Mitre 10 stores, with Hastings and Napier Mitre 10 MEGA stores accepting paint returns from late 2007.

In the 14 months to the end of February 2008, over 160,000 packs were collected from Resene ColourShops and a further 52,000kg from 11 council depots. Of this, over 56,000kg of steel was recycled. Over 47,000 litres of solventborne paint was sent to solvent recovery so the solvents could be reused and over 40,000 litres of waterborne paint was donated to community groups. Additional waterborne paint is being used as raw material for concrete, reducing the additives and improving the properties of concrete.

Category: Innovative Solutions for the Environment

Highly Commended: Gretchen Robertson and Monica Peterson
Region: Dunedin

Awarded to an individual, business, group or organisation who have designed or produced an innovative solution that will protect, enhance or improve the environment.

Gretchen and Monica have spent six years compiling a comprehensive toolkit which enables New Zealanders to get involved in caring for their local estuaries.

The project began in 2001 when a small community at Karitane, Otago wanted to learn more about their estuary. Gretchen realised there was a lack of resources and materials available to communities to understand the importance of estuarine health. She recognised the huge importance of estuaries to New Zealand’s lifestyles, livelihoods and living systems.

Most New Zealand cities and towns surround estuaries (including Dunedin, Christchurch, Wellington, Auckland and Napier). She also recognised that without an affinity for their local estuaries the people of New Zealand would not be able to ‘Turn the Tide’ (the title of the toolkit) on historical damage to these RAMSAR protected ecosystems.

Gretchen began voluntarily designing a set of estuarine indicators and monitoring protocol that could be used by community members at no cost. Monica joined the project and began trialling the monitoring protocol with the Karitane community, who provided feedback on the tools.

It became clear to Gretchen and Monica that scientific monitoring can leave more questions unanswered than answered within the highly dynamic and complex estuarine setting. Although useful information is gained through scientific monitoring some important factors such as peoples experience and values are missed out. Gretchen and Monica embarked on the task to design a toolkit applicable to all New Zealand estuaries that harnesses local knowledge as a baseline for future decision making and provides tools for people to get involved in a way that interests them personally.

The kit has now been completed and is available through New Zealand Landcare Trust at $25 each (which covers the printing costs only). The resource is also available online for free. Since the release of the kit (in mid 2007) over 140 community groups and educators have purchased copies around the country. This demand recognises the demand for user-friendly tools for communities to get involved in caring for their environment. Gretchen and Monica have not profited from this resource in any way other than the satisfaction its demand must bring.

Ends

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