In July 2009 Porirua Autocrash were approached by Greater Wellington Regional Council to participate in the region's emission programme (see boxed text) and are just completing the Enviro‑Mark bronze certification process. We seized the opportunity to complete the programme, gaining the benefits of a 50% subsidy for it from the Council and the expert advice and support provided to participants. Neil said a keymotivation for them was the chance to get all their compliance 'ticked off' through the programme and to have the peace of mind that they have addressed risks in their business, both environmental and otherwise.
The emission programme has a comprehensive approach to business sustainability, covering environmental practices and compliance with current legislation (such as for health and safety and employment). "The programme is not just a one‑off check that gets done and then forgotten about. It's about continuous improvement and compliance. So as things change with new legislation and other regulations the emission audit also changes and we have to keep updating what we're doing to meet the standard," says Sue. The other attraction was the impact on the bottomline. While progressively implementing costeffective and more efficient practices they been able to invest in expanding the business through improving and upgrading equipment.
Following waste and energy audits they have reduced landfill waste by 30% with diversion to recycling instead of filling up skip bins, achieving a monthly saving of $600. The old bumpers are collected for free and recycled, reducing what can be a bulky and costly waste product. One of the new investments they made was a computerised chassis measuring machine which allows them to carry out precision repair work.They reused the structure of an old spray booth to fit it with new upgraded equipment instead of replacing the whole compartment.
There have been many challenges along the way. An example is conflicting stances from recycling companies, resulting in difficulties with recycling paper and cardboard. One company would recycle paper and plastic after painting cars that the other would not accept. Unfortunately the company that would not had the recycling contract for the business. This has recently been resolved. The second company has agreed to take the paper and plastic, despite the cardboard recycling contract being with someone else. Getting the recycling services set up is one thing, but Neil said they don't know exactly where all of the recycled materials end up or what it gets used for, so considering their extended responsibility may require further work. Neil and Sue are still in the process of installing a new vehicle wash bay on the site and making other improvements to stormwater drains. As the name suggests, part of the emission programme focuses on reducing carbon emissions from the business, a difficult thing to measure and analyse, covering waste generation, energy and fuel use in the business. Sue says it requires regular, disciplined checks and monitoring to keep on top of their emission profile and they are still learning and improving as they go.
Overall, Neil and Sue believe there is no stopping the increased focus on business sustainability and environmental practices. "It's important to just get on with doing things right, taking responsibility for how you work and the impact your business has. We also see a marketing benefit from promoting our certification to customers and the insurance companies we do repairs for, as we believe they should be more inclined to use us as a preferred repairer." There have also been wider benefits to how they see their business and promotion of it.