News Release, Unilever Australasia
Unilever to Apply for an Extension of its Air discharge Permit
Unilever's Petone plant which produces Surf, Drive and Persil laundry powders for Australia and New Zealand today announced that it will shortly apply to the Greater Wellington Regional Council for an extension of its air discharge permit under the Resource Management Act 1991 (RMA).
Unilever's Petone Operations Manager, Neil Robertson said, "Our current discharge permit was issued in 1996 for a period of 15 years and expires in July 2011. In order to continue to meet our obligations under the RMA, we need to apply for another permit and have chosen to make a publicly notified application which will allow the local residents, businesses, Iwi, and other affected parties, to make submissions."
The consultation process will be undertaken by the Regional Council and requires the company to submit an Assessment of Environmental Effects (AEE). The AEE will outline any effects of the Petone site's air discharge on the environment and the ways in which these will be managed.
Affected parties will be advised how and when they can make submissions to the Regional Council by way of a letterbox drop, by advertisements in local newspapers and a sign at the plant's Jackson Street site.
Neil Robertson said, "Unilever has a global commitment to environmental sustainability and has undertaken to halve the environmental footprint of its products by 2020. Locally we embrace best practice for our processes. The most visible atmospheric discharge from the plant is a steam plume from the site's stacks. Ongoing monitoring of particulate discharges shows levels that are well below the consent limits.
"Unilever is a major employer in the Hutt valley area and the plant currently employs around 100 people; 75 of whom are permanent and 25 on a temporary or contract basis. We have been in business in Petone for over 90 years, employing many generations of New Zealanders. It is almost certain that people living in the Hutt Valley will know someone who has worked at 'Levers' at some time.
"Our relationships with our customers, suppliers, staff, unions and the neighbouring community are regarded as benchmarks for best practice in many areas. We strive to be a good employer and corporate citizen. We are particularly proud that we have now exceeded six years without a Lost Time Accident on our site as operational safety is always our first priority."
The Petone plant exports around two-thirds of its production through the port of Wellington to Australia.
"Along with many other New Zealand manufacturing businesses, we have come under significant pressure in recent years from cheaper offshore sourcing options. As part of a global company, we are expected to deliver world-class performance here in Petone. Following a major site restructure in 2009, we were recognised by our parent company as a cost-effective manufacturing site. This has subsequently resulted in a significant capital investment. Earlier this year there was a $2M upgrade our plant to enable the site to produce a new generation of products with enhanced environmental performance.
"The Petone plant has a proud history and long association with our Hutt Valley community and receiving an extension of our air discharge permit would enable that association to continue," Neil Robertson said.