• Marian Hobbs

It's that simple

We all know the phrase "a picture is worth a thousand words".

I am substituting the words for a few props.

I have here a valve and a hot water pipe. By simply closing the valve and shutting off the hot water supply, I could have saved $15,000 a year and about 25 bath tubs of hot water per day. This was the simple step taken by a tannery in the Hawkes Bay region, which took part in a cleaner production programme. A change in washing methods from daily continuous washing to doing one 10 minute wash per day, saved another $14,000 a year and at least another 50 bath tubs of water per day.

It is just one of countless examples of businesses that have looked at how they go about things and have found ways to use resources more efficiently and to save money - often by doing something quite small.

These examples often show enormous reductions in the use of energy and water use, and are usually accompanied by real cost savings. But businesses generally are not taking these actions without being encouraged.
Those of you who have been working in the field of cleaner production know only too well that - on the whole - there is little demand from business for cleaner production information. The challenge becomes one of convincing people that it's worth looking at how they use resources within their business.

There is little doubt about the need for information and education. As you may know, I feel strongly about the importance of education and the need to improve our information and educational resources.

I've been impressed to hear what BusinessCare has achieved so far. Our commitment to provide $300,000 from the Ministry's Sustainable Management Fund, is one way we can help reach businesses. Practical help and advice are necessary in motivating people to take action.

In a recent review of the cleaner production programmes funded from our Sustainable Management Fund, there were some impressive statistics. The actual volumes of annual waste that were reduced were astounding. Water usage was reduced by an equivalent 97 Olympic sized swimming pools, trade waste discharges were reduced by 102 Olympic sized swimming pools, and chemical usage reduced by 12 and a half swimming pools. The energy that was saved could light a 100-watt light bulb for over 1100 years, assuming it would last that long. The amount of waste reduced in a year would be three metres deep and cover a rugby field.
With regard to the waste that goes to landfill, businesses account for two thirds to three-quarters of it. Their contribution to reducing waste and making better use of resources will obviously make a significant difference. As I have said before, I want to see the playing field tipped in favour of clean, green business….and a move beyond the "end of the pipe" mentality to having policies that decouple environmental damage from economic growth. That is, we need to move to smart growth, where we grow without the environmental damage.

At the moment we look at the effects of the discharge instead of examining whether we should have the discharge itself. The old adage that prevention is better than cure will get some new life as a result of BusinessCare's objective to promote cleaner production and they deserve our support.

One of the four highest priority issues for this government is the reduction of waste and hazardous waste.

To this end we need to implement the National Waste Minimisation and Management Strategy to move New Zealand towards zero waste - covering all waste streams. I am aiming to launch the strategy in mid December.

In the longer term I have asked the Ministry to review four strategic areas over the next twelve months and one of these is the area of business innovation. I will create new approaches to business environmental innovation and seek alliances with key sectors who are willing to embrace a sustainable development.

A second is performance and monitoring. I want to know how we monitor environmental results and performance of local and central government agencies, with the aim of providing incentives to councils and other agencies to meet the governments overall environmental objectives.

Again, education is a third key, and I will review how we promote environmental awareness and action in the community; so that we can set up new long term communication and education programmes.

Fourthly, in the area of environmental legislation and institutions, I want to see better integrated waste and hazardous substances management under the Resource Management Act and HSNO.

This is a strategic shift in direction and it entails recognising the gap between the clean green image and reality, and seeing environment as an economic opportunity not just a cost.

To this end, I am delighted to be here for the launch of Businesscare's "material" efforts to help businesses to make this happen.