Meet Aust's first carbon-neutral tradie

·2-min read

Australia's first certified carbon-neutral tradie is on a mission to slash industry emissions and prove it can be done profitably.

Melbourne landscaper Stuart Griffiths, 48, is the first small business tradesman verified by the federal government as carbon neutral.

His outfit, Eco-Green Garden Care, secured the status in March under the Department of Industry's Climate Active initiative after taking steps to cut its carbon footprint.

The costly and time-exhaustive process involved hiring a carbon consultant to calculate emissions generated by petrol, office equipment, power tools, waste disposal and recycling.

Once complete, Mr Griffiths made the move to green energy, replaced his petrol tools with battery technology and offset his remaining emissions with carbon credits purchased from composting and power plant projects in India.

Even without factoring in tools replacement, the Epping-based landscaper said it cost about $4500 and took several months.

The verification wasn't helped when his application hit the additional "hurdle" of not meeting the criteria for small business classification.

"I ended up being the catalyst for them to develop a whole new certification stream," Mr Griffiths told AAP.

"It's opened up the door for a whole business sector that previously would have been unattainable."

His business was the first to receive certification as a "non-office small business" but it only covered operations, not garden services.

Despite the initial hiccup, he said the extra effort was worth it for the sake of his 10-year-old daughter and the environment.

"This is more about me running my business in a way I can feel good about," he said.

"I've got a young family, I'm conscious of the world we're going to leave behind for our kids and our grandkids."

He's now using his unexpected title to encourage other tradies to follow suit, calling on the sector to pull its weight on the path to reach Victoria's ambitious target to reduce emissions by 28-33 per cent by 2025.

A study, published by a United Kingdom journal in 2017, said the building industry accounts for about a quarter of Australia's greenhouse gas emissions annually.

For most small operators, Mr Griffiths concedes emissions are an afterthought.

But he is keen to challenge the notion micro-traders can't make a difference and demonstrate carbon neutrality benefits go beyond the environment.

"There are certainly operational savings to be made by making these changes," he said.

"I want to role model the fact that environmental sustainability and financial sustainability are not mutually exclusive.

"You can make environmental sustainability profitable."

As of Thursday, 276 Climate Active certifications had been issued to 191 Australian businesses.