Left to right: Kate Beddoe, Silver Fern Farms; Evan Maehl, Waste Management; Juliette Hogan (Designer); Mike Casey, NZ Zero; Michele Wilson, AWWA Period Care; Bernard May, Mataura Valley Milk; Paul Chambers, Kiwibank

Businesses are understandably distracted by economic concerns and other competing pressures right now. But our research shows that they are falling out of step with how Kiwis are feeling.

Only 55% of business leaders reported seeing climate change as an important/very important issue, compared to 71% of Kiwis.

However, 65% of business leaders still maintain that they can make a difference to climate change.1

Gen Less has gathered business leaders from around New Zealand who are prioritising climate action, to share their journeys so far.

They say now is the time to take action – not just because it’s the right thing to do, but because it’s good for business.

Meet the business leaders

Juliette Hogan

Founder/Owner/Designer, Juliette Hogan Ltd

“Sustainability isn’t a ‘nice to have’ anymore, it’s an absolute must for business… I’ve got small children so it’s really important for me that they say their mum’s business making good decisions that will impact their future.”

Juliette established her brand in 2004 after completing her studies in fashion and textile design at Parsons School of Design in NYC. She opened her first store in Ponsonby, Auckland in 2007, and has since grown into an international brand.

In April 2023, Juliette was elected Chair of Mindful Fashion, a collective of Aotearoa New Zealand’s fashion and textiles industry dedicated to social and environmental responsibility.

Sustainability at Juliette Hogan(external link)

Key energy-related action to date:

  • Previously measured emissions with Toitu Carbon assess tool in FY20 & FY21.
  • At that time, transitioned work fleet to electric and low emission vehicles, which gave a 13% reduction in carbon emissions.
  • Remeasuring FY23 scope emissions with EKOS to set a new benchmark for the business.

What’s next:

  • Continuing the journey to B Corp certification in 2025.
  • Goal of >90% sea freight of all fabrics by Q2 FY24 (September this year) to reduce scope 3 emissions

Bernard May

CEO, Mataura Valley Milk

“When we sat down and looked at our business it was clear we had to decarbonise… Just get started and make it happen. The biggest risk is doing nothing.”

Mataura Valley Milk was incorporated in 2008, producing milk and milk products from its Southland site, just outside of Gore.

Dairying is energy intensive – often using fossil fuelled boilers to process milk. With that in mind, Mataura Valley Milk began “Project Recharge”, to remove coal from their processes, and bringing in New Zealand’s first electrode boiler to replace their coal boiler, and reducing carbon emissions by 22,000 tCO2-e per year – the equivalent of taking over 9,000 cars off the road.

Key energy-related action to date:

  • New Zealand’s first high pressure electrode boiler (HPEB) will replace all current coal-fired heat duties on the site, making it 100% electrified.
  • HPEB is a clean and renewable energy alternative that will reduce carbon emissions by approximately 22,000 tCO2-e per year.

What’s next:

  • The a2 Milk Company will provide funding up to $500,000 in the first year of a new initiative to support sustainable dairy farming projects in New Zealand.

Michele Wilson

Co-founder, Kaihautū (CEO), AWWA Period Care

“The first step was to really measure and understand our carbon footprint. Doing whatever we can to have a positive impact on Papatūānuku.”

AWWA grew from a Kickstarter campaign in 2018 to become New Zealand’s first local period underwear company. Informed by te Ao Māori, AWWA take a circular view of sustainability, from the natural, organic and recycled fabrics they use, their toxic-free processes to the ethical makers and their carbon footprint.

AWWA sustainability(external link)

Key energy-related action to date:

  • Ekos Net Climate Positive certification.
  • B Corp certification.
  • Better planning to enable all inwards freight to come via sea rather than air, to reduce transport emissions.
  • Upgrade company fleet to hybrid or electrical models, or more fuel efficient than present vehicles.

Paul Chambers

COO/CFO, Kiwibank

“Carbon is emitted on things that cost money, so if you’re reducing emissions quite often you’re saving money at the same time.”

Kiwibank is tackling climate change by reducing its own emissions, and supporting its customers to do the same. Their climate action plan has seen them reduce their emissions by around 60% in the last five years, as well as work in areas around climate-related financial disclosures, responsible business banking, and engaging with suppliers who abide by the same sustainable and responsible values.

Kiwibank sustainability(external link)

Key energy-related action to date:

  • B Corp certification.
  • Operational emissions verified by Toitū.
  • Reduced travel by 35%.
  • Reduced electricity consumption by 22%.
  • Converted 7% of the fleet to electric.
  • 22% overall reduction in operational emissions (over 60% in the last 5 years).

What’s next:

  • Continue to analyse business banking portfolio to understand the impact of climate change.
  • Reduce operational emissions by 15%.
  • Convert 50% of fleet to EVs.
  • Reduce travel emissions by 10%.
  • Set financed emissions targets by the end of 2023.
  • Complete our climate change scenario analysis.

Mike Casey

Co-founder, NZ Zero

“What if we can make more revenue by offering the consumer something they’re demanding, which is climate action.”

NZ0’s first fossil-fuel-free orchard, Forest Lodge Orchard, was set up in Otago in 2019 with a stated aim from the get-go that no fossil fuels would be used, in order to show the horticultural sector, and other businesses, what’s possible. This meant adopting some new tech, like electric frost-fighting fans and the country’s first electric tractor, which arrives later this year, as well as EVs, electric tools, and an electric irrigation system.

Forest Lodge Orchard(external link)

Key energy-related action to date:

  • No fossil fuels used on-farm – instead, they have electrified.:
  • They drive EVs, use an electric ride-on mower and use customised golf carts for orchard operations.
  • In addition, they use electric heat pumps for heating and hot water, and have an electric irrigation system.
  • They’ve embraced new tech, too: with NZ’s first electric frost-fighting fans already up and running.

What’s next:

  • The country’s first all-electric tractor is due on-farm in November this year.

Kate Beddoe

Chief Risk and Sustainability Officer, Silver Fern Farms

“We need to future-proof New Zealand businesses. The conscious consumer wants their product to be sustainably produced. We’ve really had to rethink our business model to make sure we’re future-fit.”

Silver Fern Farms was established in 1948, and now produces 30% of all New Zealand beef, lamb, and venison. With up to 6,000 employees and 14 processing sites throughout New Zealand, Silver fern Farms are looking at global trends in consumer demands for sustainably produced food, and rethinking their business model to meet those needs.

Silver Fern Farms sustainability(external link)

Key energy-related action to date:

  • Toitū carbon reduce and Enviromark diamond certifications.
  • Set ambitious, science-led emissions reductions targets, and committing to phase out coal use by 2030.
  • They’re bringing their farmers along on the journey, with 80% of SFF farmers recording and managing on-farm emissions and sequestration.
  • They’ve launched net carbon zero beef in the US, with plans to launch NCZ lamb and venison by 2026.

What’s next:

  • Three “coal out” projects across sites.

Evan Maehl

Managing Director, Waste Management

“If you want to have a competitive edge, you have to focus on emissions, and reducing them.”

Every year, Waste Management collects over 1,000,000 tonnes of waste and recycles well over 200,000 tonnes. Their sustainability strategy ensures protecting the environment is embedded into the company, including reducing their carbon footprint and engaging with staff and suppliers to support them protecting the environment and reducing their greenhouse gas emissions, along with a focus on regenerative plantings were possible.

Waste Management sustainability(external link)

Key energy-related action to date:

  • Toitū carbon reduce certification.
  • First to introduce 100% plug-in electric trucks into a waste collection fleet in New Zealand back in 2016 and have opened a purpose-built facility to assemble more EV trucks in New Zealand.
  • As at the end of 2021, had 26 electric trucks in the fleet. With a total fleet of over 800 trucks, they expect to make a significant emissions reduction impact with this programme in the coming years.
  • One electric truck on average saves about 125 litres of diesel per day.

What’s next:

  • Further fleet electrification

Getting started with emissions reduction

  1. 1

    Start with purpose

    The first step to becoming a climate-friendly business is to make a clear decision to start.

    Learn more

  2. 2

    Measure your emissions

    Understand the footprint of your business to find out where you can make the biggest impact.

    Learn more

  3. 3

    Create a climate action plan

    Once you know where your emissions come from you can make a plan to reduce them.

    Learn more