New Zealand is now world-leading with its climate legislation, but businesses must continue to burden as much responsibility as government in driving transformation to decarbonize our economy, says David Benattar, the chief sustainability officer of The Warehouse Group.
Climate change is the biggest environmental challenge facing the world and will dramatically impact future generations, he says.
Benattar (pictured) is a keynote speaker at the Office, PA and Events Planner Show in Auckland on March 23 and 24, where he will be talking about the importance of culture, empowerment and transformation in accelerating sustainable business practice.
The Warehouse Group became the first large organisation in the country and third major retailer in the world to go carbon neutral in 2019.
“Climate change is already affecting our economy, ecosystems, infrastructure, health and biosecurity. If left unchecked, it will have broad social and economic impacts on our country,” Benattar says. “As New Zealand’s largest retailer, The Warehouse Group is taking responsibility for our impact on the environment and playing our role in supporting the country in taking climate action under its international obligations to the 2015 UN Paris Agreement.
“The Warehouse Group is embedding sustainability in everything we do. We were recently awarded a score of A- by the Carbon Disclosure Project, putting us in the highest category of global leadership and acknowledging that we are implementing current best practices in the fight against climate change.”
In September 2020, The Warehouse launched its sustainable and affordable range and has made significant changes to its product ranges, including having more than 9000 products on its shelves with a sustainable feature.
The Warehouse has a target for 20 percent of its products to have a sustainable attribute by 2023. Many of its products contain ingredients certified by programmes such as the Better Cotton Initiative and the Forest Stewardship Council.
They also sell many products that are recyclable and reusable which contributes to product lifecycle longevity and environmental impact reduction.
It has removed or reduced plastic and plastic packaging from thousands of products on its shelves.
The Group which includes The Warehouse, Warehouse Stationery, Noel Leeming and Torpedo7, has been successful in delivering significant waste reduction. Sixteen Warehouse stores feature soft plastic recycling collection bins, enabling Kiwis to drop off their used soft plastic. Last year alone, The Warehouse collected 4.6 million single pieces of used soft plastic. It is expanding the programme to 14 additional stores across New Zealand.
This expansion is just one the post-consumer waste projects the Group is rolling out this year as it continues to grow and invest in its circular economy practices, Benattar says.
“E-waste is one of the fastest growing waste streams in the world, with the average Kiwi generating more than 21kgs of e-waste each year. By introducing a programme where unwanted Information and Communications Technology (ICT) equipment can safely be recycled, we are hopeful we can divert a considerable amount of e-waste from New Zealand landfills.
“We are pleased to be able to offer another way for climate-conscious Kiwis to live more sustainably as we continue on our journey to become New Zealand’s most sustainable company.”
Benattar has extensive sustainability experience in the non-profit sector in the US and at The Warehouse Group. He is on the board of the New Zealand Sustainable Business Council, which represents 28 percent of the New Zealand private sector GDP.