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A plea for less plastic from a Queenstown workshop has prompted BNT to rethink the way its 55 branches package up local customers' goods.

Responding to the call

Fiona Lattimore (pictured above with Queenstown BNT rep Jen Ennis) is a partner in Auto Super Shoppes Stewart Motors. She is keen to reduce plastic waste within her business, as most can’t be recycled locally.

“When I got a handbrake cable wrapped in about three metres of plastic, and lots of cling film on a cardboard package from BNT earlier this year, I sent off an email asking them to reduce the amount of plastic being used. After all, the parts are only going to be in a car for about 10 minutes while they’re being delivered to me.” Fiona spoke about her concern to a couple of other workshops, who also raised the issue with BNT Queenstown.

She’s been pleased with the response from then local manager, Billy Van der Mescht who said, “Fiona was the first to complain but what she was saying was really important. The more green we can be the better.”

He set up a system for deliveries that uses paper bags and cardboard boxes as much as possible. He then begun investigating the use of heavy duty durable fabric bags with a ‘window’ on the outside for invoices. And before he left to take up a job with BNT in Auckland, Billy began phasing out single use plastic bags in the branch.


The head of BNT is Executive General Manager of Bapcor NZ, Martin Storey. He’s taken up the Queenstown BNT response to plastic waste by extending the system into all other branches. They are trialling the permanent replacement of single use plastic bags with substantially strengthened paper bags.

“At the same time, at the national office, we have been looking at other ways of reducing our impact on the environment. As a company, we recognise that the world needs to be more sustainable, and as a company we want to be doing the right thing.”

He says BNT is also a rapidly growing company – it plans to add another 20 branches to its network within five years. “We need to be attracting the best people to these new jobs, and today, many people, particularly millennials, expect a range of things in their work space. This includes wanting their employer to be working in an environmental sustainable way.”

All new branches and alterations to its national office are built and fitted out as sustainably as possible – within the constraints of its budget.

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Bapcor’s Group Marketing Manager, Geoff Dawson (above), has been looking at how BNT packages its freight.

“We already use recyclable wooden pallets and cardboard boxes where possible in our main warehouse.”

He and Martin say there’s not much wriggle room for moving away from the plastic cling film-type wrap used for courier movements.
“Packaging affects volume, which affects cost, so we need to keep the weight down.”

However, about half the company’s deliveries are done by local BNT branches and it’s here that Geoff has been able to add to Billy’s Queenstown initiative.

“I’ve sourced the reinforced paper bags that we’ll use around the country – the biggest size can hold up to 15kg in weight.” These will be used in BNT delivery vehicles and replace single use plastic bags. Solid plastic containers will also be used to hold customers’ products in transit.

Geoff is also in early talks with overseas parts manufacturers to see if it is possible for less plastic to be used in packaging.
“Realistically, New Zealand is such a small market, that they’re not likely to respond unless there is a much broader call from other countries,” he says.