One of the oldest tourism vehicle operators in the country has become the first tourism operator and transport service in Australia to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to a big fat zero.
Katoomba-based Fantastic Aussie Tours (FAT), which has operated in the Blue Mountains since 1974, is the first certified 100 per cent carbon neutral bus charter transport service in Australia under the Australian Government’s Carbon Neutral Program.
Its Blue Mountains Explorer Bus business, which operates a fleet of four distinctive red double-decker sightseeing buses, was the first tourism operator/transport service in the country to be certified.
Fantastic Aussie Tours and Blue Mountains Explorer Bus was also the first in the country to operate a certified carbon neutral bus and coach fleet.
FAT managing director Jason Cronshaw said as well as going through the stringent certification process, the company had also signed the pledge to join the Climate Neutral Now initiative run by the United Nations.
Most importantly, certification meant FAT and Explorer Bus were part of the carbon neutral supply chain, so other businesses striving to reduce their carbon footprint would not have to count the cost of the service in their own carbon inventory when using the travel charter service.
“This is different from programs that, say, some airlines run, where they allow customers to pay to offset their emissions,” he said. “We actually offset the emissions for them.”
While there was only a handful of carbon neutral products and services in Australia (Fantastic Aussie Tours will be number 15 and 29 on the list of organisations), the number was growing.
“Obviously we’re very proud of our carbon neutral status and it makes business sense for us, but it’s about more than just bragging rights and getting one up on our competitors,” Mr Cronshaw said.
“We have been richly blessed to work and play in this region with its wilderness areas and fresh air when others in the world struggle every day with the effects of chronic air pollution, overpopulation and lack of green spaces.
“It’s the way of the future and the four million people who visit the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area each year expect it of us.’’
To achieve carbon neutral certification, the company calculated its greenhouse inventory (carbon footprint) for Explorer Bus and FAT including items such as fuel emissions, on-site energy usage like water and electricity at its North Katoomba depot and Explorer Bus shop at Katoomba railway station, consumables, marketing materials, waste, fleet maintenance, staff commute and the life-cycle emissions of each bus in its fleet from manufacture to disposal.
The company, which was independently audited to the international standard, then neutralised carbon emissions by buying more carbon offsets than the amount of its emissions.
It has also implemented a strategy to reduce its future carbon footprint including switching to carbon neutral products and services where possible, reducing waste, improving recycling rates and investigating solar power.