St Lukes Plant Barn will reduce their waste to landfill by 27% this year and use 150,000 less plastic bags.

Simon Andrews, General Manager at St Lukes Kings Plant Barn is well known by locals. In this article we ask what inspired him to join the Albert-Eden sustainable business programme.

What inspired you to join the Albert-Eden Sustainable Business programme?

I told the story to my staff at our meeting recently. It was walking along the beach at Great Barrier and just the sheer amount of rubbish that you can pick up on the beach, and that’s with nothing between Great Barrier and South America. I really loved hearing the story about the guys with the barge and all the people picking up the tonnes of rubbish on the beaches around Auckland. That really motivated me to try to be better at what we do at Kings Plant Barn.

What changes have given you and your team the most satisfaction?

Internally our branch staff  has been increasing the amount of recycling we’ve been able to do. Really quite easily. Little things. Like all our paper till receipts are now recycled. All our paper now goes into the council recycling bin. All our plastic film and cardboard is recycled. We’re also using our worm bins a lot more seriously now. All the internal recycling changes we’ve been able to do have been really positive. Across all Plant Barn  stores we’ve now stopped using plastic bags. We’ll save over 200,000 plastic bags and bootliners a year in this store alone. So a massive reduction in plastic use.

We’ve now got boxes to reuse, reusable bags and boot liners for sale. Our next big change is introducing an internal garden waste compost collection which should reduce our waste to landfill by nearly 70m3 over the next year.

Our plant pot swap bin where customers can leave and take pots was already a huge success and will continue. We’re also really proud of both the expert advice we provide to help plant trees around Auckland, and being a part of helping to sequester more carbon and the education campaign we run around bee-friendly planting in gardens.  

What advice would you give to other businesses?

I’d say start slowly. Continue doing what you do everyday. Don’t try to do everything at once and include your team as much as you can. Talk about it at staff meetings. Our staff give exceptionally good customer service, we’ve had shout outs lately on radio. Promoting bee habitats, organic options and gardening is what we do. I tell our customers not to plant a massive vege garden when you are starting out, start slowly build on your successes. The same applies to being a more sustainable business.

Sustainability Highlights

·   150,000 less plastic bags per annum

·   27% reduction in waste to landfill

·   Aiming for 100% organic waste composted by 2020

·   100 less tonnes of carbon emissions each year as a result of  composting all garden waste

·   Plan Bees programme for promoting bee-friendly garden plants

The Albert Eden Sustainable Business Programme is sponsored by Albert-Eden Local Board and delivered by Carolyn Cox the founder of Green Business HQ.