"We have got to try and reduce our carbon footprint each year" ... Steve Feildus. Photo: Supplied
Like his father and his grandfather before him, Steve Fieldus is a proud, tattooed truckie who couldn't resist life in a big rig on the open road: ''I was born and bred into it, mate. I could never escape it.''
What sets him apart is that he is now officially the nation's greenest truckie.
The federal government agency Low Carbon Australia recently declared Mr Fieldus's Dubbo-based Transforce Bulk Haulage fleet had become the first heavy transporter to be certified carbon neutral.
Gaining the title has involved a year's hard work and more than $50,000 but Mr Fieldus, 44, believes it will all be worth it in the long run for his business, the trucking industry and generations of Australians to come.
Mr Fieldus said that while many people regarded the average truckie as a redneck polluter with little concern for the environment, this was a ''good news story'' for his industry.
To achieve the carbon-neutral status, Mr Fieldus cut emissions as much as he could through measures including the recycling of engine oil and tyres, a bonus scheme that rewards drivers for operating their vehicles in the most fuel-efficient way and use of the latest low-emission engine technology.
''We're now in the process of looking at new fuel systems like biofuels,'' he said. ''Part of our business plan is that we have got to try and reduce our carbon footprint each year.''
Despite cutting emissions, Transforce still produces thousands of tonnes of carbon each year, which Mr Fieldus has had to offset by buying carbon credits.
His fleet hauls mostly agricultural produce such as wheat for Dubbo district farmers and he would like to buy carbon credits from his customers so his money stays local.
Instead, Mr Fieldus bought his first credits from a forestry scheme in Kenya because Australian farmers cannot yet claim credits for the carbon stored in their soils in the roots of crops and pasture.
When he addresses a carbon farming conference in Dubbo this week, Mr Fieldus will urge the federal government to approve a methodology that allow farmers to sell credits based on soil carbon.
''It's got to happen,'' he said. ''We need to be able to source carbon credits … and these guys are [storing carbon in their soils]. They are … not only feeding the nation, they are helping clean it up as well. Those crops and pastures, they are dragging [carbon] from the air like any tree does and they are putting it in the ground.''
There is approved methodology for determining carbon credits from savannah burning, piggery methane, planting biodiverse native forests and landfill methane.