Jasco distributes chemicals. Its very job is to sell cleaning products, washroom supplies and food packaging to cafes, commercial cleaners, hotels and more. So how is a company like this recognised for excellence in sustainability? Zizi Sparks sits down with Jasco Distributing's owner and general manager and finds out how it's done.
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Jasco Distributing is an enigma. Its owner Greig Holland admits it.
"Part of our business is built around selling chemicals but our first message is how we reduce the use of chemicals."
It is that message which contributed to the company winning the Sustainability Business Award at the Westpac Rotorua Business Excellence Awards earlier this month.
The company sells and distributes products made by other companies including cleaning products, washroom supplies and food packaging.
A decade ago, the company made a decision to "go in a different direction". Now it is aiming to have 100 per cent of packaging sales to come from sustainable sources by 2022. It is about doing their bit.
"Anything anybody does that improves their position to great sustainability and reduce waste is positive. We're all going in the right direction and that's the backbone we come from. Everybody has to do their bit," Greig Holland said.
The business has stopped using foam packaging, it steers customers towards chemicals with controlled dosing and environmentally-friendly ingredients.
"We eliminated literally hundreds of chemical ranges because they didn't meet our criteria," the owner said.
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They have stopped stocking coffee cups which are not biodegradable and only use recyclable plastic.
For general manager Tom Holland, the biggest thing is that the business is community-minded.
"We're trying to encourage our customers to think about the bigger picture. Sustainability is more than buying things with the environmental tick," Tom Holland said.
"One business can't make a change but a community can. We supply almost 1000 businesses in town. If we can get each of those to support some of what we're trying to do and trying to change, that's 1000 businesses. It is the community that really makes a big difference.
"It's going to be future generations that benefit from the work we do now."
He said one of the company's "lightning bolt moments" was realising it distributed more than one million coffee cups a year. So they stopped and switched to a biodegradable cup.
"We want to be known for how we do business not what we sell. The nature of our products can be seen as part of the problem so we made the decision we didn't want to be seen as part of the problem we wanted to be a solution."
That method did cause some deals to fall through as Jasco distributing decided to deal with businesses which supported what it was trying to do and walking away from others.
Jasco Distributing was established 40 years ago next year. Greig Holland has owned it since 1999. When he bought it there was one branch in Whakatāne.
Since then it has expanded to Taupō and it relocated to Rotorua in 2015. There are 26 staff on the books.
Earlier this month, the company beat out Kaitiaki Adventures and Waimangu Volcanic Valley to win the Sustainability Business Award at the Westpac Rotorua Business Excellence Awards.
The company services almost 1000 Rotorua businesses including the Pig and Whistle, Capers, motels and Waimangu Volcanic Valley. It also has contracts in the main service centres around the North Island. Some customers have been with the business for 20 or 30 years.
As for what the future holds, Tom Holland said they wanted to continue to grow the sustainable range and educate customers.
"Value goes beyond the price of the product. If you just focus on price that's all you get. There's no point selling a spade without teaching them to dig a hole."