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Sustainable Business Award Winners Achieve Business Goals And A Sustainable Future

The Sustainable Business Network (SBN) has announced the winners of the 21st Sustainable Business Awards at an annual ceremony in Auckland this evening. The awards recognise a raft of values-led, determined Kiwis working towards a sustainable future innovating while addressing climate change, rebuilding resilient natural systems, designing out waste and building greener supply chains.

Pathfinder Asset Management (Pathfinder) dominated the awards, firstly taking out the Communicating for Impact Award for its ability to communicate how you can grow individual wealth and have a positive impact on people, communities and the planet.

John Berry, Pathfinder’s Managing Director, won the Sustainability Superstar Award through outstanding leadership as a tireless champion of ethical investing. He has convinced investors to redirect many millions of dollars into companies that make a positive difference.

To top off the evening, Pathfinder won the coveted supreme Transforming Aotearoa New Zealand Award. All elements must come together to win this award including the vision for a sustainable future, dedication to ethical practice, and products that offer a far better alternative to the status quo. Then there’s the X factor – impact. Pathfinder is having a significant impact with a range of ethical investment funds, including its KiwiSaver funds which have one of the lowest fossil fuel investments in the country.

Sustainability lies at the heart of everything Pathfinder does. Its mission is to fund a lasting transformation to a better world. It is Aotearoa New Zealand’s first certified B Corp fund manager. Pathfinder has committed to achieving net zero emissions by 2030 and it gives away 20% of KiwiSaver management fees (out of its own pocket, not from members) to New Zealand charities. More than $1 million has been given and accrued in the past four years.

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The judges commented, “Pathfinder’s success couldn’t have happened at a more critical moment - when sustainability is under threat from greenwash and governments under pressure to cut corners. Pathfinder is demonstrating that people, planet and profit is not just a good idea, it’s the most credible plan for business, citizens, and Aotearoa New Zealand”.

Rachel Brown, Sustainable Business Network CEO says,

“In 2023 climate has played havoc on us. Communities have been hit hard. Infrastructure is failing and our degraded natural systems can’t provide the resiliency role they once did. For decades now financial resources have not been directed into the right things.

“The national conversation, and funding, has lost its connection with the need to address climate and nature, and the benefit that brings to communities.

“But amongst this, businesses have stepped up. The 2023 Award entries, led by passionate people, across all sectors, who offer us all hope through very practical solutions. Their stories continue to impress as they lead and innovate on sustainable action across all sectors of the economy.

“Sustainability is the lens these businesses use to think strategically and intergenerationally while acting now with positive impact. They recognise that customers, staff, and their children expect businesses to address the very real challenges of climate, waste, nature, and inequality. Doing this is in their DNA.”

The list of award winners and their individual stories are below.

2023 Sustainable Business Awards Winners

Sustainability Superstar

Sponsored by NZI

Winner

John Berry – Pathfinder Asset Management

Commendations

Kirsten Patterson – Institute of Directors

Jacinta Fitzgerald – Mindful Fashion New Zealand

Communicating for Impact

Sponsored by Stuff

Winner

Pathfinder Asset Management

Commendation

Better Packaging Co.

Social Impactor

Sponsored by MAS

Winner

Money Sweetspot

Commendation

Te Whangai Trust

Going Circular

Sponsored by ecostore

Winner

Emerge fertiliser by Watercare

Commendations

Solid

Circularity

Climate Action Leader

Sponsored by Waka Kotahi

Winner

Ecotricity

Commendation

Lawson’s Dry Hills

Outstanding Collaboration

Sponsored by Ministry for Business, Innovation & Employment

Winner

Eco-Action Nursery Trust, Ōtautahi-Christchurch & Waitaha-Canterbury community

Commendation

Fair Food & Farro Fresh & food partners

Good Food

Sponsored by New World

Winner

Trade Aid

Commendation

The Sustainable Food Co.

Regenerating Nature

Sponsored by Ministry for the Environment

Winner

Reconnecting Northland

Commendation

Forever Forests

Change Maker

Sponsored by Tax Management New Zealand

Winner

Scott Waddell – Mataura Valley Milk

Commendation

Frankie McKeefry – Près Strategy

Supreme Transforming Aotearoa New Zealand Award

Winner

Pathfinder Asset Management

Finalists

Ecotricity

Trade Aid

Winners stories 2023

John Berry – Pathfinder Asset Management

John Berry has been a leader in growing the ethical investment movement in Aotearoa New Zealand for more than a decade. He is the CEO of Pathfinder Asset Management which he co-founded alongside CIO Paul Brownsey. In this role, he is changing mindsets by showing how money can be a force for good. His focus is on raising awareness among Kiwis and the finance industry that how we choose to invest our money has critical positive or negative impacts.

John and Paul grew Pathfinder from small beginnings in an office above John’s garage to a business that manages $600 million of clients’ money. It was the first KiwiSaver provider to set a net zero emissions target and issue a sustainability report. It was also the first fund manager in Aotearoa New Zealand to achieve B Corp status.

John has worked tirelessly to raise awareness of ethical investment through the media and presentations. He has written numerous articles published in Stuff, NZ Herald, The Spinoff, Business Desk and NBR as well as recorded radio interviews and podcasts. As a result, he won Mindful Money’s Best Media Reporting on Ethical Investment Award in 2022 and 2023.

His advocacy includes ongoing presentations to companies across diverse sectors including insurance, law, agriculture, manufacturing, tech and construction. He also regularly presents at conferences and finance industry events.

Outside of Pathfinder, John has been on the board of Men’s Health Trust for a decade. There, he saw the need for charities to receive long-term and reliable income streams that are not tagged to a specific project. His solution was to give 20% of KiwiSaver management fees to a family of 18 charity partners. More than $1 million has been paid and accrued to these charities over the past four years.

Partnership is key to John’s work. His collaborations have ranged from launching a new ethical investment product seeded by Ngāi Tahu, to working with organisations focused on social housing and impact investing, as well as supporting numerous charities.

Pathfinder Asset Management - Communicating for Impact and Supreme Winner

Pathfinder Asset Management is a company with a vision: to fund a lasting transformation to a better world. Founded in 2009, it is Aotearoa New Zealand’s first certified B Corp fund manager. It offers a range of ethical investment funds, including three KiwiSaver and six managed funds. All three of its KiwiSaver funds are listed as climate-friendly by Mindfulmoney.nz.

Sustainability is integrated into everything it does, from its own practices to the funds it offers. For example, it has committed to achieving net zero emissions by 2030 and it gives away 20% of KiwiSaver management fees (out of its own pocket, not from members) to New Zealand charities. More than $1 million has been given and accrued in the past four years.

For Pathfinder, communication is central to changing mindsets about investment. It has been running a campaign for the past three years to show you can grow individual wealth AND have a positive impact on people, communities and the planet.

It has reached thousands of people with its message that investing can make a positive difference for our planet. Intertwined with this campaign has been storytelling and thought leadership focused on how businesses can, and must, improve the way we do capitalism.

The company has delivered its messaging through numerous articles in mainstream media, social media, direct communication with clients, presenting at conferences and speaking on podcasts, courses and directly to businesses. Its latest advertising campaign “Where good, returns” saw an increase in traffic and new members.

Pathfinder’s commitment to ethical investing has been rewarded with numerous awards. In the last 12 months alone, it has won three Mindful Money Awards, the Money Hub Favourite Ethical KiwiSaver Scheme and Research IP Fund Manager of the Year. This year Pathfinder was also named as a Responsible Investment Leader by the Responsible Investment Association Australasia.

The judges said: “To win the Supreme Award, all the elements must come together: the vision for a sustainable future, dedication to ethical practice, and products that offer a far better alternative to the status quo. Then there’s the X factor: impact. Pathfinder Asset Management delivers on all fronts.

“It has its own house in order, and offers compelling products that are both financially competitive and meet the highest ethical standards. But it’s the impact that really gives Pathfinder the edge. Under John Berry’s leadership, Pathfinder has been a tireless champion of ethical investing and convinced cynical investors to redirect many millions of dollars into companies that make a positive difference.

“Pathfinder's success couldn’t have happened at a more critical moment - when sustainability is under threat from greenwash and governments under pressure to cut corners. Pathfinder is demonstrating that 'people, planet and profit' is not just a good idea, it’s the most credible plan for business, citizens and Aotearoa New Zealand.

“Congratulations from all the judges.”

Money Sweetspot- Social Impactor

Money Sweetspot is a sustainable finance business helping people find a way out of spiralling debt. It believes Kiwis who commit to getting themselves out of debt deserve support and rewards, not unfair interest rates and the threat of harsh penalties.

The Auckland-based business says life can be unpredictable and fragile, but with the right financial options every New Zealander can still find their sweet spot - a place where people, families and communities can move through debt, rather than be defined by it and stay in charge.

Launched in late 2022, Money Sweetspot provides financial reset debt consolidation loans. That means less money spent on interest and more on paying down debts. It has provided $5.3 million of financial reset loans to more than 220 customers, As a result, it’s estimated those customers have collectively saved $1.9 million in interest compared to their previous lending facilities.

Customers earn points by paying on time and learning more about how debt works. To date, customers have engaged with more than 2,000 pieces of financial education provided by the business. The points turn into extra money taken off their loan or paid into their savings account. Customers can also earn $100 each year to donate to their charity of choice through Good Registry. So far customers have donated more than $6,000.

Money Sweetspot says its innovative approach to lending and risk, together with the support of investors and funding partners, helps its team deliver systems-level transformational change, one customer at a time.

Emerge fertiliser by Watercare - Going Circular

Watercare makes fertiliser from a resource it has learned to recover from wastewater treatment. It also plans to produce other soil products using resources extracted during the treatment process.

In 2021 Watercare started trials to extract and purify struvite crystal from wastewater at its Mangere treatment plant in Auckland.

Struvite crystal is used to make fertiliser and feels like dry beach sand. There is a global demand for struvite fertiliser as it is long-lasting, slow release and does not cause leaf or root burn. Watercare's product, branded as Emerge Fertiliser, is high in phosphorous and pathogen-free.

Until now, Aotearoa New Zealand has sourced non-renewable phosphorous for fertiliser from overseas, with a significant carbon footprint.

Watercare says Emerge Fertiliser offers a local, renewable and high-value alternative. It has been tested on pasture and turf systems and is being used by farmers. Over the past year 150 tonnes have been sold. Watercare expects to produce 300 tonnes in 2024 and up to 3,000 tonnes per year in the future. It is about to enter the retail market through a nationwide chain of home improvement stores. It is also in negotiations with four fertiliser companies and has secured its first export order to Australia.

Watercare is developing other soil products including a garden potting mix using biosolids from wastewater. Over the next decade it aims to create a market for all the biosolids it produces. It says this will divert about 150,000 tonnes of biosolids from landfill every year. That's about the same as 20 truck and trailer loads per day. Landfill costs up to $200 per tonne. Emerge Fertiliser sells for $550 per tonne, proving that waste can be a valuable resource.

Ecotricity - Climate Action Leader

Ecotricity is the first and only climate positive electricity provider in Aotearoa New Zealand. The Toitū certification covers the business and its products.

Started 10 years ago, Ecotricity’s mission has been to provide solutions for commercial and residential customers to reduce emissions from carbon-emitting energy sources. It provides customers with 100% renewable electricity from wind, solar and hydro generation.

The Auckland-based business is committed to making Aotearoa New Zealand’s electricity grid 100% renewable by actively promoting the development of clean energy technologies to replace fossil fuels and lower the cost of electricity.

Ecotricity’s climate positive electricity product is suitable for all customers, big and small. It has innovative energy solutions that help consumers keep their energy costs down, shift their energy usage away from peak periods, and reduce their carbon footprint. Lowering demand during peak periods also reduces the need for fossil fuel generation and helps stabilise the national grid.

In the 12 months to June 2023, electricity provided by Ecotricity avoided 33,000 tonnes of carbon emissions.

The business has the highest penetration of solar customers in the country. More than 70% of its residential and small business customers have rooftop solar. Excess solar power from those systems supplies about one-quarter of the electricity demands of Ecotricity customers during summer.

While outside its core business area, Ecotricity is educating Kiwis about electric

vehicles (EVs). This work is fundamental to its company mission, given that carbon emissions from vehicles make up around half of our energy emissions. Its EV content had 1.3 million views in just 12 months.

Ecotricity says it is confident that by supplying Kiwis with 100% renewable, climate positive certified electricity, and by becoming the leading voice on EVs, it is playing a vital role in decarbonising the electricity sector.

Eco-Action Nursery Trust, Ōtautahi-Christchurch & Waitaha-Canterbury community

Outstanding collaboration award

Eco-Action Nursery Trust collaborates extensively with the Ōtautahi-Christchurch and wider

Waitaha-Canterbury community to cultivate partnerships and grow large areas of native forest. These projects sequester carbon and provide food and habitat to attract native birds back into the city.

The Trust was started in 2016 by two teachers who wanted to create learning opportunities for students by taking action in their communities to tackle climate change. Now with a team of five, the Trust is designing systems to enable thousands of people to collaborate.

The Trust’s main initiative has involved setting up 30 satellite nurseries in schools and with community groups. They receive a free kit including up to 5,000 native seedlings along with potting mix, pots, weed mats and irrigation systems. To date, those satellite nurseries have contributed 20,764 volunteer hours growing plants. This year 60,000 plants were propagated – doubling the number grown last year.

The young trees are then planted by teams of volunteers from schools and communities. Together they have contributed more than 8,000 hours and put 44,350 trees into the ground. Previous planting sites flourish in Christchurch’s earthquake-damaged Red Zone and along the QEII Adventure Nature Trail. The first trees are now producing seed that is being collected to grow more plants.

The Trust’s mahi includes mentoring students for presentations to community boards and city councillors to help secure funding and land for future planting, alongside developing their leadership and horticultural skills. This enables young people to drive transformational change within their communities. By taking hands-on action and walking the talk they feel connected and empowered. Students often say that getting their hands dirty and doing something to care for Papatūānuku (Mother Earth) makes them feel more positive about the future.

Trade Aid - Good Food

Trade Aid has been pioneering sustainability and ethics in the New Zealand food market since 1976 when it imported its first bulk shipment of tea from Sri Lankan fair trade tea producers.

Tea campaigns ran alongside the supply of high-quality fair-trade tea products that educated New Zealanders on the injustices in the tea industry, issues that most were largely unaware of at the time. Today Trade Aid connects New Zealanders to small-scale organic tea production in an industry that remains dominated by tea plantations and characterised by exploitative labour conditions and environmental degradation.

Trade Aid pioneered large-scale distribution of fair trade coffee throughout Aotearoa New Zealand from the early 2000s and its partnerships remain responsible for most of the fair trade and organic coffee supply. This distribution is achieved through the creation of long-term sustainable business relationships with coffee roasters who use their expertise and volume to supply fair trade organic coffee to Kiwis everywhere.

This success in trade has been replicated across numerous other food products including sugar, cocoa, rice, spices, coconut milk and dried fruit.

Trade Aid’s direct trade with small-scale farmer organisations and the building of respectful and equitable global trading relationships enables producers to engage in international trade on their own terms, and to meet the needs of their people and their lands.

These direct effective and efficient trading relationships enable thousands of New Zealand businesses to fair trade their supply chains, meet their sustainability goals, increase their proximity to the origin and makers of their products, and achieve complete transparency in their supply chains.

In 2023, 23 food producer organisations in Aotearoa New Zealand are thriving as a result of long-term fair trade relationships with Trade Aid. In 2022 the extra value that Trade Aid put back to its 16 coffee cooperative partners was more than $3 million.

Reconnecting Northland - Regenerating Nature Award

Reconnecting Northland’s purpose is “To bring communities, agencies and resources together to support thriving ecosystems across Northland”. It focuses on landscape-scale projects that deliver ecological, social and climate change mitigation outcomes. These are rooted in the local culture and tradition of Tai Tokerau.

Its goal is to reverse ecological degradation over three generations. An essential part of this transformation is fostering a deep connection between people and nature, encouraging individuals to see themselves as integral to the natural world. The organisation's community coordinators provide support and guidance through Te Kete Hononga, fostering ownership and stewardship among participants.

Over the past five years, Reconnecting Northland has worked closely with tangata whenua and more than 10 communities of Tai Tokerau. Through community-centric habitat restoration projects, the organisation supports communities to lead activities that restore and protect the natural environment.

By planting native trees, removing invasive species and restoring waterways, these projects promote ecological health and resilience for nature and people. Reconnecting fragmented ecosystems by creating nature corridors has far-reaching benefits for biodiversity and contributes to the long-term viability of native plants and animals. This approach plays a vital role in preserving Aotearoa New Zealand's unique ecosystems.

The organisation supports about 400 people working on nature regeneration projects over more than 80,000 hectares. It has attracted more than $4 million in project funding and provided angel investment to establish shovel-ready projects, led Te Kawa Waiora research, an indigenous approach to “living waters”, and created plans for pest control and riparian restoration.

Reconnecting Northland’s commitment to people and nature is driving positive change towards a more sustainable future and sets an example for others to follow.

Scott Waddell – Mataura Valley Milk - Changemaker Award

Scott Waddell has led a project to enable Mataura Valley Milk to operate entirely on electricity. It will become Aotearoa New Zealand’s first 100% electric dairy factory powered by renewable energy. The project has involved building the first high-pressure electric boiler at a milk powder factory in this country, replacing a coal-fired boiler.

The project’s success has been due to Scott’s determination, leadership and drive. He has led the project from concept through to completion. Initially, his electrical and operational background enabled him to see that full-site electrification was possible from a technological perspective. He then developed the business case, secured funding and got board and senior leadership approval. He brought together multiple complex elements to bring the project to life, including new technologies, commercial power agreements, internal stakeholders and EECA funding.

The project is expected to reduce carbon emissions by around 22,000 tonnes of CO2-e, equivalent to removing all vehicles in Gore off the road.

Scott openly shares his ideas to help others to follow suit. If the technology was implemented industry-wide it could play a pivotal role in Aotearoa New Zealand meeting its commitments under the Paris Agreement.

Scott has come a long way from starting his electrical trade 11 years ago, to successfully leading one of Aotearoa New Zealand’s largest process heat decarbonisation projects.

The project is a collaboration between Mataura Valley Milk and EECA. Mataura Valley Milk is 75% owned by the a2 Milk Company.

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