Progress towards our carbon reduction goals

Since joining the Climate Leaders Coalition in 2018, Ravensdown’s carbon reduction roadmap has been implementing some exciting projects.

After setting our first carbon reduction target of 15% there has been a focused effort at Ravensdown to reduce coal consumption.  A roadmap for lime-related emissions reduction has been established, which represents the most significant area of progress towards Ravensdown’s climate targets. 

Three of Ravensdown’s seven lime quarries use coal to fuel the drying process, and drying limestone produced 3,889 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions in 2019, 25% of Ravensdown’s core annual emissions. 

Early results reflect substantial efficiencies gained by more selective mining, eliminating drying in favourable conditions and investment in improved infrastructure for screening, monitoring moisture and conserving heat.  Continued investment and trials are underway on various energy options and improved production processes for further reductions.  Some great practical improvements have been identified by the operational team that will not only reduce carbon emissions significantly, but also drive efficiency in lime manufacture, build resilience and show leadership.

In 2019, the lime business reduced reliance on coal by 14% representing a saving of 536 tonnes of CO2, and 4% of Ravensdown’s total direct emissions.

It doesn’t end there.  Several options for full replacement of coal are being studied and several retired areas of the quarries, particularly those with erosion prone land or ecological value, have been put forward for a native forestry planting programme, designed to sequester carbon while offering ecological, biodiversity and aesthetic benefits to the local areas.

N-Protect Uptake Leads to Emissions Reduction

Coated urea is better for the environment because it releases less greenhouse gas emissions and because you can apply 9% less nitrogen for the same effect.   From 18 November 2019, 11 Ravensdown stores, 31 consignment stores and three lime quarry stores no longer stored uncoated urea, in a bid to encourage greater uptake of N-Protect and a reduced on-farm carbon footprint.  

We are closely monitoring the results of this directive.  In 2019 we saw the uptake of N-Protect almost triple, resulting in GHG emission reductions of 4,314.20 tonnes: equivalent to 30% of Ravensdown’s direct (operational) emissions.

Managing Climate Change Risk

In response to increasing calls for businesses to recognise and manage climate change-related risk; risk workshops were held in February and March 2020 to better understand what future risk climate change represents to Ravensdown. 

The process enabled the various aspects of this risk (which range from damage to infrastructure and closure of transport routes, to financial impacts of the Emissions Trading Scheme and pressure on farming in regions that will be increasingly prone to extreme weather conditions) to be better gauged and understood and managed to the best of our ability.

Takaka Hill Biodiversity Group Trust

Ravensdown is developing an environmental programme aimed at supporting community-led rural environmental groups.  One such group is Takaka Hill Biodiversity Group Trust.

The Trust's work is a great example of community collaboration between industry (Ravensdown’s Ngarua lime quarry), farmers and community to protect a valuable natural area known to be home to rare karst landscape, mature sub-alpine beech forest and rimu ecosystems, not one but five rare tree species including the limestone kowhai and many endangered birds as well as the almost extinct giant land snail. 

Ravensdown is currently contributing to this project through active management of Ravensdown-owned land within the Trust’s management area, surveying, spraying and trapping pest species and fencing, providing a location for rare species propagation, and donating time.  Ngarua Quarry Manager Mark Simkin is a trustee.

A Catchment Approach to Farm Management

Ravensdown contributed to a pilot project which sought to use catchment engagement and the Land Use Capability Indicator (LUCI) tool to improve farm environmental management in the Waiiti catchment.  Ravensdown contributed in-kind through modelling of LUCI-AG and OVERSEER on the farms that participated.

The results of the modelling showed the clear impact of farm-scale activities on water quality in the catchment, and the potential to increase in-stream water quality and improve flood mitigation with no negative impact on productivity through a carefully selected combination of mitigation options. 

It showed the value of modelling different combinations of mitigations using LUCI to find which combination has the potential to be more effective for multiple ecosystem services, and also highlighted the importance of engaging with stakeholders and local communities to increase the quality of input data and understand possible options for best environmental outcomes.

Looking after our Packaging

Ravensdown has been committed to a take-back scheme for bulk fertiliser bags for several years which ensures that all bags that are returned are recycled at our cost.  Once received at a store, used bags are collected and baled by either EnviroNZ, or (in the case of Southland) by a social enterprise, Southern Disabilities Trust, then sent to an approved recycler for processing into chip and then manufacture into other products.

We ask that one and half tonne bags are returned to any of our stores empty, clean and dry, and stuffed into each other.  We also support the use of Agrecovery’s One Stop Shop which is a mobile scheme working in all regions to collect a range of agricultural waste for export for recycling, including fertiliser bags and balage wrap.   Agrecovery also occasionally undertake one-off farm gate pickups and can be contacted directly for that.  In 2019, well  over 120 tonnes of bags were recycled through both methods.

With waste a key part of Ravensdown’s sustainability strategy, we are currently looking for alternative packaging options and recycling options.  We hope that single use plastic and export for recycling will one day be a thing of the past and we believe we have a key part to play in this.  Currently there is no recycling facility available to process polypropylene in New Zealand but we are supporting trials by EnviroNZ to manufacture baling twine and pipe.  We welcome an industry-wide recycling scheme and are part of an advisory group chaired by Agrecovery working in response to the government’s proposed mandatory scheme.

Waste Reduction Measures

We are putting effort into reducing not only our packaging waste, but the waste we generate operationally.  Achievements around our sites include:

  • Adhering to customer preferences for communication to eliminate post for those that prefer email
  • At events you will see several bins to separate waste for recycling or composting. We often use cutlery and crockery to eliminate some waste streams at events
  • Our quarterly magazine, Ground Effect, is posted with compostable wrap
  • Our integrated report is only posted on request
  • We work with suppliers to source recyclable and compostable office supplies
  • Worm farms are operating at our major sites
  • Milk for staff is delivered in bulk at Napier
  • A business waste audit has been piloted at ARL and recommendations delivered

Work to expand these successful initiatives around our network is ongoing

Staff Development

Part of the Communities pillar of our sustainability framework is to “increase knowledge and awareness of sustainable practices”, and this includes knowledge amongst our staff.  In March 2020, a sustainability induction module has been added to our suite of online courses.  It defines what sustainability means at Ravensdown, explains Ravensdown’s approach, priorities and targets and describes your role in it all.  It is designed to be relevant to all staff, but specifically useful as an introduction for new staff. 

We also have the Climate Change online training module which was newly updated in 2019 to reflect recent developments to our carbon footprint as well as New Zealand’s. It covers the science of climate change and the latest information relating to both New Zealand and Ravensdown’s impact and actions.  Both of these modules were developed in response to staff demand and are in the process of being rolled out.  They are regularly reviewed to ensure they contain the best information possible.

Finally, the 2020 graduate intakes have had sustainability incorporated as a part of their programme.  This is an important element of learning about Ravensdown, but also has led to great discussions about Ravensdown’s important role in New Zealand and our current progress and future plans.  These individuals now have the opportunity to join a group of agri-managers who form a representative group to guide sustainability work as it relates to customer facing staff.

At the time of writing, 121 staff have undertaken sustainability training.

Pūkorokoro Miranda wetland restoration

Ravensdown has been involved in a community-led project to restore and reconnect a rural freshwater ecosystem and sensitive coastal environment. 

This project was a collaboration of Western Firth Catchment Group, Living Waters and Ravensdown Environmental.  It took a catchment approach to land management and required detention bunds, riparian planting, Farm Environment Plans, pest control, fish passage and use of a catchment prioritisation tool to enhance the Pūkorokoro Miranda estuarine environment and an ecologically valuable RAMSAR wetland. 

The approach was presented at the recent Fertiliser and Lime Research Centre conference as a great example of collaborative environmental management.