3r Group | Waste not

3R-Group.pngLike many great Kiwi ventures, this one began in a humble shed. Concerned at the amount of agrichemical and paint containers ending up in landfill, 3R Group’s founding partners set out to find a better solution.
Working from said shed with two laptops, they developed product stewardship schemes with Resene and Horticulture NZ to ensure paint packaging and chemical containers, respectively, were recycled, and devised PaintCrete – an initiative that uses recovered paint to make concrete.
Since its rustic beginnings in 2004, the Hawke’s Bay firm has grown considerably – now employing 30 staff across its head office in Hastings and processing sites in Hastings, Auckland and Christchurch.
Annual turnover has increased to reach $4.5 million, says chief executive Adele Rose, and clients include small and large businesses, councils, industry groups and government.
3R Group works with clients on their waste problems, taking a holistic approach that sees its diverse team of experts consult on, develop and implement carbon reduction, waste minimisation and product stewardship programmes.
A 10-year initiative between 3R Group, the tyre industry and government will come to fruition next year, when tyre retailers will be required to join a regulated product stewardship scheme that will ensure end-of-life tyres are recycled rather than dumped in landfill.
3R Group is involved in the whole gamut of the scheme, from concept to execution – including managing the collection and tracking of used tyres, Adele says.
“Because we work from consulting right through to processing the products at the other end, we have a very realistic, practical approach. We give businesses sensible, practical, efficient and cost-efficient solutions that are right for the environment and right for their brand.”
The company is also the driving force behind the SeatSmart programme – that sees expired car seats for children disassembled and 75 percent of their materials recycled.
It uses social enterprises to help disassemble the seats including youth employment agency LIFT in Napier, and the Department of Corrections through its community work programmes. “They do dismantling work which helps them to get skills and gives them an idea of what it’s like to work in an operational environment.  The scheme has a social as well as an environmental benefit.”
3R Group hopes to get major car seat manufacturers on board and develop a product stewardship scheme, including working with them on ‘design for disassembly’ so the seats can be taken apart more easily.
It is important businesses and organisations get the right advice for their carbon and waste problems, rather than rushing to adopt a solution that may have unintended consequences, Adele says.
“There’s a push from consumers to make changes quickly but that’s a difficult thing when, for example, you’re changing your packaging and have to consider factors such as food safety and shelf-life. That’s where we can help. We have a range of expertise and relationships - we work a lot with the packaging industry on sustainable packaging.” 
When it comes to accounting and business advice, 3R Group turns to the team of experts at Moore Markhams Hawke’s Bay.
3R Group sought an external provider early last year and has never looked back, Adele says.
Associate Ashleigh Gilmour impressed right away. “She had done her research and asked all the right questions. The conversation just flowed.”
3R Group now has access to an impressive breadth of skills and expertise, covering business analysis, systems, management reporting, payroll and compliance.
New reporting and payroll systems introduced by Moore Markhams have been a huge time-saver, Adele says, doing away with the need to manage and collate data from multiple spreadsheets. “It has saved me a day each month in time.
“We get a lot of business improvement advice back through them. We now have more of a helicopter view of the business and it has really improved our financial modelling.”
A review of the service agreement and fees six months into the relationship saw Moore Markhams pick up extra management accounting and reporting for 3R Group. “Their efficiency meant we could increase the value we received without paying more.” 
3R Group has also changed up its premises – moving into new, spacious headquarters on Karamu Road North in Hastings. The new office is far from a humble shed, but the firm is walking its sustainability talk.
“We’ve retained as much of the original structure of the building as possible, and we are using repurposed and recycled furniture where we can, to furnish it.” 
Photo caption: 3R Group chief executive Adele Rose says the firm's regulated product stewardship scheme for end-of-life tyres - a joint initiative with government and industry - will launch next year.