The essence of Zespri’s commitment to sustainability lies in the roots of our industry. Over the years, we’ve enjoyed excellent growing conditions, the kiwifruit we produce are in demand around the world for their great taste and the nutritional boost they offer, we tread relatively lightly on the land and as an industry we’ve built strong, thriving communities in New Zealand and across the globe.
But we know there’s more for us to do. Our consumers, communities and our environment expect this of us. As we do of ourselves.
There are many challenges ahead. By 2050, the world’s temperatures are at risk of having risen by around 4 degrees. This means we’re likely to see more extreme weather events, a potential decline in the population of some of the world’s natural species, and increasingly visible pollution in our air, on our lands and across our seas.
As a result, conversations across the world are changing. No longer is there a need just for awareness, but for urgent and unprecedented action.
Our consumers have made clear that they want to truly connect with the companies who produce their food and see how Zespri not only recognises the importance of sustainability but embraces it across our supply chain.
That’s why today sustainability sits at the heart of our company purpose — to help our people, communities and the environment around the world thrive through the goodness of kiwifruit.
And it’s our purpose that shapes how we’re already addressing some of the significant environmental and societal challenges we’re facing today.
That includes making sure that we’re adapting to climate change, reducing our carbon footprint, minimising the use of plastics in packaging and leading the way in preserving access to water and preserving its quality.
There’s also a need for us to be consistently improving our industry’s labour conditions, fostering our sector’s talent and making a positive contribution to not only the lives of our growers and consumers, but to the wider communities we operate in, both in New Zealand and beyond.
PackagingZespri has a commitment to help create a circular economy. This means moving away from society’s traditional ‘take, make and dispose’ model of production to one that ensures we minimise waste and make the most use of our resources by recovering and regenerating other products and materials from them. It’s also about building on some of the progress we’ve already made. This makes up an important part of the work we’re doing in the packaging space.
A biospife is a spoon-knife utensil for cutting, scooping and eating kiwifruit. It is sold in retail packs of Zespri products. The biospife is made using technology that transforms kiwifruit residues into a plastically processable material, which can then be formulated with other plastics, such as polylactic acid. The biospife, is both renewable and compostable. In an industrial composting facility, a biospife will degrade within six months. It will break-down in a garden compost, but at a slower rate.
We’re reviewing our consumer packaging materials to make sure that not only is the material food safety compliant and able to maintain fruit quality, but also recyclable, re-usable or compostable. We’re also closely monitoring developments in the fruit labelling space.
Reducing fruit waste is an integral aspect of Zespri Kiwifruit’s production system — for both environmental and cost reasons. Our industry has invested in information systems to improve inventory management, introduced lean manufacturing concepts, and improved fruit temperature monitoring — all helping to cut down on the amount of fruit that is wasted.
The spotlight on water has never been greater with an increasing need to preserve water for future use and environmental purposes. The kiwifruit industry recognises the importance of the protection of water as a valuable resource and is proactively looking to identify solutions on how to become more efficient with the way water is managed on orchard.
Zespri uses direct shipping to reach consumers across the world. Shipping is responsible for the greatest contribution to the total carbon output in the Zespri supply chain. It is also our greatest opportunity to reduce emissions. Zespri uses direct shipping to supply our kiwifruit to consumers across the world. From 2020 onwards, all ships Zespri use will burn low sulphur fuel. This is a significant step taken by international shipping to play its part in reducing the impact of fuel emissions on our environment, and we fully support it.
One of the challenges ahead is how we benchmark our carbon footprint performance and show progress on our sustainability measures in the coming years. Historically we haven’t done this as well as we’d like, so we’re putting effort into updating the carbon footprint of a kiwifruit, understanding the amount of soil carbon we store, and agreeing targets for the material used in our packaging and how much of it is reused, recycled and composted.