A clean getaway

Sustainability January 26, 2022

Road trips down a dusty gravel road, salt spray from parking near the beach, pollen from the flowering Pohutukawa – the summer months might mean your car is dirtier than usual.

The good ole kiwi road trip is part of our DNA, be it a cross-country adventure, the local beach, or that hidden gem of a spot down a gravel road, we love to get out and explore in this beautiful country. We know however that when we return, there is the usual unpacking, shaking out sand, dirt, dust and packets of the road snack of choice we’ve collected along the way, and that’s just the inside. Cleaning the outside of the car is just as important, not only does a clean car look good, but it can also help keep your visibility clear and protect the exterior paint and metal for longer.

For some, cleaning is about caring for their pride and joy, for others it is a chore. There is also the guilty feeling about washing your car during summer when we know there is often less water about, maybe restrictions in place (be they self or council imposed) and the general view that people don’t like to waste water. Grabbing the hose at home may feel like it’s a luxury or even not possible, yet the cleaning needs to be done before we, or someone, gets tempted to write messages in the dirt...

A cleaner, greener, car wash machine

At Z, we recognise that people want to hit the road and be able to clean up afterwards, yet time and water restrictions may impact the ability to do so and that’s where Z can help. Over 40 of our Z20 car wash sites across the country have a dedicated recycling system installed which saves around 65% of water per wash – meaning each litre of water can go even further. We estimate over 32.5 million litres of water were recycled through Z car wash infrastructure last year.

How it works:

The system captures water used during the car wash and transfers it to a three-stage interceptor:

  • Stage one is used to collect any hydrocarbon materials that may have been present on a vehicle, and stop them from entering the wastewater system. Any collected hydrocarbon material is manually removed and disposed of at an approved facility. Stage one also separates around 90% of solids suspended in water.
  • Stage two is used to remove around 7-8% of the remaining suspended solids that are present in the discharged water.
  • Stage three is used to collect the separated grey water, to be used by the water recycle system.

Going one step further in Auckland

In the last few years, Auckland has seen considerable pressure put on its water reserves with significant water restrictions in place. This included preventing car washes across the region (even with recycled water systems installed) from being available to the public as a further way of reducing the city’s water consumption. We wanted a permanent solution, not just a temporary fix to get us through this drought and similar situations in the future.

To help achieve that, we wanted to provide a completely sustainable and ideally self-sufficient solution. We invested over $700,000 to install onsite rainwater tanks across our 22 Auckland car wash sites, estimated to save 12 million litres of water a year.

These tanks mean we can avoid tapping into Auckland’s main water supply. We can be completely reliant on our water tanks if we needed to – and for most of our Auckland sites we now are, whether the restrictions are in place or not. 20 sites now have the water tanks permanently connected to our car wash facilities.

It’s great we have been able to use water more sustainably, in fact, all the water used through these car washes is now from either the water tanks or the stored recycled water.

The locals love it

It’s not just our customers that are happy about the shift we’ve made. We even had the Local Council subsidiary Watercare reach out to us to say thanks.

"We recently became aware of all the efforts Z Energy have made to transition your car washes to a complete sustainable model, using water tanks and recycling methods. From all of us at Watercare, thank you so much for getting behind our drive to use water more sustainably in such a big way."

We are hoping to expand this wider than Auckland in the future, with the intent to prioritise other regions of New Zealand that are prone to drought.  

So the next time you hit the road, be it the cross-country road trip or even that quick drive for a dip or ice cream, you can rely on Z to provide that quick, easy, and efficient car wash solution to give the car a spruce up ready for the next adventure.