Alsco is committed to the reduction of its energy usage and subsequently, its carbon footprint. To achieve this, we work closely with our employees, customers, and the community. We partner with our suppliers and contractors to understand and comply with community and legislative expectations and regulations. We do not just meet industry environmental standards – we constantly strive to exceed them and encourage our employees, clients, and business partners to help us do so.
Alsco has worked with the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA) to launch energy saving initiatives, whilst also being courageous to adopt and test newer technologies. This includes but is not limited to, the uptake of the first long-distance intercity heavy EV freighter in New Zealand, moving to a wood-pellet boiler in the processing facility in Nelson, and has amalgamated two old inefficient plants into one efficient processing facility in Richmond.
With EECA’s support, Alsco has also employed an energy management graduate. The company will, with assistance from our graduate, reduce energy usage by 2 GWh at the end of the programme. This corresponds to approximately 3% of Alsco’s entire energy usage and is equivalent to switching off 220 million LEDs or powering 18,000 Electric Vehicles.
In 2018, Alsco committed to four Big Bold Sustainability Goals to guide the business through to the year 2030.
Beyond profit, connecting with our planet, our people our community
OPTIMISING PROCESS ENERGY
As part of Alsco’s Four Big Bold Sustainability Goals, Alsco wants to transition away from coal-fired process heat and energy. To achieve this, the group has decided to take a staggered approach, building in energy optimisation and energy efficiency practices and initiatives to reduce energy demand.
This ensures that when there is a switch to low carbon alternatives, there is enough capacity and optimisation to absorb the costs associated with the transition. This also enables Alsco to take advantage of the technological advancements in this space.
Richmond Our production facility in the Tasman region was the first to transition to biomass, transitioning from a coal-fired boiler to wood pellet in 2012. Overall, the conversion of the laundry boiler from coal to wood pellets significantly improved air quality and reduced the visual impact of smoke emissions. Wood pellet fuel has the additional benefits that it is carbon neutral and can be obtained from a local supplier, Azwood.
Invercargill Alsco has engaged Ahika to conduct a woodchip boiler trial at its Invercargill site. Initial work included an assessment of the suitability of Alsco’s boiler system, and its main components, to operate on wood fuels.
This trial has been successful, and the next steps are to build towards a full-day trial under full factory load. This is scheduled for later on in 2021. This ensures that there is a pathway that puts Invercargill on the cusp of switching over to biomass. The coal used in Invercargill represents 22% of the company’s entire carbon footprint in New Zealand – 4,075 tonnes.
Christchurch & Dunedin Alsco is currently undertaking an energy transition accelerator (ETA) strategic review, a government initiative through which a roadmap to transition to low carbon stationary fuel and transportation alternatives are defined. The ETA will define a clear plan to transition both our Christchurch and Dunedin production facilities.
In 2020 Alsco commissioned three SEA Electric E4V electric vans in three different depots across New Zealand, and also introduced New Zealand’s first long-haul heavy EV freighter, based on a Hino GH1828 fitted with a SEA-Drive® 180 power-system. This was in line with Alsco’s 2018 commitment of electrifying a third of its fleet by 2030, one of four ‘Big, Bold and Meaningful’ goals.
The vehicles were launched at Eden Park in December 2019, an event attended by energy and resources minister Megan Woods, climate change minister James Shaw, Taupo mayor David Trewavas, Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA) chief executive Andrew Caseley and around 200 guests.
The project received funding support from EECA and enabled Alsco to work closely with SEA Electric NZ and Action Manufacturing in Hamilton to build a specialised EV freighter with an expected range of 200km. The truck travels Alsco’s shortest heavy route - daily double between Rotorua and Taupo, then Rotorua and Tauranga. The route totals around 286 kilometres each day, so top up charging and split shifts are required. The electric vans have been seamlessly integrated into normal delivery schedules, servicing customers while keeping the surrounding areas pollution and noise free.
Alsco is now engaging with international OEM’s to keep abreast of Electric Vehicle development and supply so we continue on our electrification journey.
Just like the pandemic, the sustainability journey thus far has not been without its fair share of challenges. For example, the introduction of New Zealand’s first electric freighter in Rotorua presented us with unparalleled operational challenges. However, the learnings derived from this project for Alsco, the industry, and the government at large have been invaluable. It has served as a case study for others intending to roll out electric vehicles while also being a mechanism to troubleshoot and better prepare the national grid as we transition to the electrification of our fleet networks. The collaboration and leadership shown in this initiative is paving the way for further electric vehicle uptake.
Continuous Batch Washers (CBWs) are the most efficient laundry machinery but demand large volumes of similar work to fully realise the benefits and synergies.
They are expensive to install but are significantly more water and energy efficient than more conventional washer extractor plants, which typically use more than double the volume of water to process each kg of laundry. CBWs have inherent water recycling attributes built into the machine when compared to conventional washer extractor plants which fill, dump and refill water at each stage of the wash and rinse cycles.
With the opening of the Richmond facility there will be a significant reduction in water consumption due to the install of a new CBW.
In August 2019, Alsco Auckland installed a new replacement CBW. This upgrade has saved the Auckland processing plant 23% of water previously used, decreased energy consumption and further increased capacity and efficiency. In recent times, Alsco Auckland has been amidst an extreme water-shortage and drought. Alsco recognises this as one of the real challenges facing the city and has demonstrated significant water savings with the CBW upgrade.
Alsco Dunedin installed a new CBW in September 2018. This upgrade saved the Dunedin processing plant 30% of water, decreased energy consumption while increasing both capacity and efficiency.
Alsco continues to demonstrate leadership in the industry by investing in newer and more efficient technology. This has enabled the company to set a benchmark for others with bold and sustainable goals.
Like most responsible businesses Alsco has been focusing on reducing our waste to landfill in recent years, and has achieved considerable success through segregating waste through our plants, recycling and staff education.
This is in line with our big bold sustainability goal of generating zero waste by 2030.
We have developed key partnerships across the initiatives and programmes we have been associated with while empowering our workforce to engage actively in the process and propose projects that can help us meet targets.
Alsco has also worked closely with its supply chain and customers, ensuring there is a collective approach to waste reduction. This has helped Alsco to educate its key stakeholders while also learning from their experiences and initiatives.
Alsco is a founding partner of the Textile Reuse Programme and has joined initiatives such as the SBN’s Sustainable Procurement Advisory Group. While Alsco is in the early days of its waste reduction plan, we are committed to reaching our goal and eliminating at least 250 tonnes of CO2e diverting more than 200 tonnes of waste from landfill annually.
WITH OUR COMMUNITY
Early in 2017, Alsco joined with the exciting Million Metres Streams Project. It’s a partnership that will help transform New Zealand’s waterways. Million Metres is led by the Sustainable Business Network (SBN), in partnership with Alsco and DOC (Department of Conservation).