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Government Grants for High Energy Users

The Australian Government Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources is providing businesses with grants of up to $25,000 to improve their energy efficiency through the Energy Efficient Communities Program – High Energy Using Business Grants.

Opened Monday, the grant opportunity aims to support high energy using businesses to save energy, lower power bills and reduce emissions through:

> replacing existing equipment with higher efficiency equipment

> installing or replacing a component to help an existing system run more efficiently

> carrying out energy audits

> carrying out monitoring of energy use and emissions.

High energy using businesses are defined as those with annual net energy consumptions greater than 0.05 petajoules per year

Over $14 million is available under this grant opportunity, distributed between states and territories based on the distribution of high energy using businesses nationally. Further information on the jurisdictional breakdowns, along with the grant guidelines, are available here.

Funding, between $10,000 to $25,000 per business, can be used for any of the actions above as well as for investing in feasibility studies for energy efficiency upgrades. Grants are available for 50% of the project expenditure, with the recipients responsible for the remaining 50%.

Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction Angus Taylor highlighted that lowering energy bills will help strengthen businesses’ resilience during these challenging economic times.

“Energy is a big part of the operational costs for businesses. Any support the Government can give to get those costs down will help businesses to invest, expand and employ more Australians,” Minister Taylor said. “The Morrison Government is working closely with business to create jobs and rebuild our economy”. The full media release can be viewed via the following link.

The Energy Efficient Communities Program, which was announced as part of the Government’s Climate Solutions Package in the 2019 Federal Budget, will deliver $40 million in grants to help businesses and community groups improve energy efficiency practices and technologies and better manage energy consumption to reduce their power bills. Information on other streams is available here.

Applications for The Energy Efficient Communities Program – High Energy Using Business Grants close on 24 September 2020.

If you are interested in the announcements or need assistance in assessing the opportunities, please contact the Equilibrium team on (03) 9372 5356 or at info@equil.com.au

SMEs Weathering the COVID-19 Storm

From a recent article in Ondeck, Equilibrium’s Nick Harford shares some views about how a calm and steady approach to running an SME can help weather  the COVID-19 pandemic.

The following story was originally published online at Ondeck.

In March, COVID-19 struck, and Equilibrium’s contracts were frozen as the national carrier, and its subsidiary, grounded their flying fleets. The Melbourne-based firm, which includes a team of six consultants, provides a range of private and government sector organisations with technical and strategic compliance services such as energy audits, environmental management systems reviews, and waste and recycling management advice lost 50% of its work in a matter of weeks.

But rather than losing their heads, the steady and strategic Harford, along with business partner Damien Wigley, pivoted their SME, and focussed on a range of opportunities to help weather the COVID-19 storm, which has once again reared its unpleasant head in the Victorian capital.

Staying cool and seeking new markets

Harford, whose firm operates across diverse industries and sectors, says Equilibrium particularly focused on existing contacts and government work.

“In the past, we were sometimes cautious about bidding for some government tenders because from a business sense they are very competitive, can involve a significant investment in time, and the return can be very risky.”

“But we put in extra work when COVID-19 hit by being more open to government tenders and proposals and taking any opportunities that arose. We gave it a red-hot crack,” Harford confirms.

Equilibrium also identified a spike in government grants promoting recycling and other business activities. Harford explains, “This wasn’t a business opportunity for Equilibrium that involved us working with government directly but rather an opportunity to be advising and assisting other businesses to access government funding and other support programs.”

Networking into new business

Apart from pursuing government work, Nick and his team upped the ante on networking. “We worked our contacts hard, making sure we understood where they were at and how we could help them address their environment and sustainability compliance issues.”

These business development efforts enabled Equilibrium to collaborate with a major Australian manufacturer that responded early to the pandemic threat by pivoting from packaging into sanitary and hygiene products such as disinfectants.

“The manufacturer needed a hand to make sure they had a range of systems in place. This work resulted from connecting with our contacts to see if we could help people with their compliance or strategic challenges.”

Dealing with the lockdowns

Apart from the loss of revenue, Equilibrium has needed to manage the impact of the first raft of lockdown in Melbourne between April and June. “We had to make sure we could work online. We have people in four different locations nationally but given the nature of the work we do, it’s not too hard for us.

“With the latest restrictions in place in Melbourne, we feel we are well-prepared for another extended period of working from home arrangements.”

Nick’s three tips for surviving COVID-19

1. Don’t panic:  Review the business profoundly and frequently. By not panicking and taking advantage of government support such as JobKeeper and the payroll tax relief, we have been able to keep all our staff employed.

2. Be prepared to take opportunities from left field:  Quickly pivot into new business opportunities when lockdowns and restrictions arise.

3. Cut unnecessary costs:  The other owner and I are also taking less income when needed. Where our people are underutilised, we’ve used them for other activities such as business development and to assist our marketing and communications activities.

Make contact with the Equilibrium team if you need help navigating COVID-19 from an environmental, waste or sustainability angle:  BH (03) 9372 5356.

______

Prepared by OnDeck Capital Australia for general information purposes only. Content may belong to or have originated from third parties and OnDeck takes no responsibility for the accuracy, validity, reliability or completeness of any information. Information current as at July 2020. You should not rely upon the material or information as a basis for making any business, financial or any other decisions. 

Boosting Product Stewardship Outcomes

The Australian Government has taken a major step-up on product stewardship policy reforms and funding aimed at encouraging manufacturers, retailers and industry groups to take greater responsibility for the entire life-cycle of the products they produce and sell.

The recurring theme and expectation in recent announcements by the Environment Minister is clear:

“We are building more capacity in our recycling sector and we need industry and brands to take greater responsibility for reducing the environmental impacts,”  said Minister Ley.

The reforms and funding are also taking a broader view of what product stewardship can and should do to better manage Australia’s waste challenges and make effective use of recycled materials in manufacturing, construction and infrastructure. Circular product design, reuse, repair and increased support for new stewardship schemes are just some of the recommendations and measures that the Government is seeking enable and facilitate.

The proposals are being put forward as the Morrison Government today launches the first round of grants from its new $20 million Product Stewardship Investment Fund to ensure manufacturers, retailers and industry groups take greater responsibility for the entire life-cycle of the products they produce and sell.

Grants of up to $1 million will be available for individual applicants to expand existing schemes or develop new ones, with first round applications already open.

Minister for the Environment Sussan Ley said the fund was a critical part of the Morrison Government’s billion-dollar recycling strategy ensuring that there are clear streams for collection, processing and remanufacture.

“We are building more capacity in our recycling sector and we need industry and brands to take greater responsibility for reducing the environmental impacts,” she said.

“There will be a particular focus on e-waste, ensuring that anything with a plug or a battery is subject to an industry scheme.

“Solar panels, batteries, and even non electronic items like child car seats all have recyclable components which shouldn’t be wasted in landfill.

It’s  noteworthy to  read that the Government is using the reforms and investment to both recognise proactive product stewardship initiatives by industry, but also to formally highlight and monitor those industries and companies that move slowly, resist stewardship action and remain indifferent to their corporate social and environmental responsibility.

Assistant Minister for Waste Reduction and Environmental Management, Trevor Evans explained how product stewardship schemes would reduce the impact of products on the environment and create new job opportunities for Australians.

“This funding will shift the dial in Australia as we change our mindsets to thinking about waste as a resource,” Assistant Minister Evans said.

“There will be strong economic and environmental benefits from turbo-charging product stewardship.

Review of the Product Stewardship Act

The  Government also released the Review of the Product Stewardship Act 2011, supporting all 26 recommendations to improve product stewardship outcomes, including:

> establishing a new Centre of Excellence to mentor and drive best practice product stewardship schemes across the nation

> broadening the National Television and Computer Recycling Scheme to include all electrical and electronic products (e-waste), so that all consumer products with a plug or battery can be recycled

> shifting the emphasis from stand-alone products to entire material streams

> reducing the costs and improving the benefits of scheme accreditation so consumers have confidence in their recycling

> strengthening the Minister’s priority products list to encourage brands to work together towards an industry-led scheme by adding clear timeframes

> calling out those letting consumers and their industry down by not participating in a scheme.

Grant applications for new Product Stewardship Investment Fund are now available at www.business.gov.au

Equilibrium has a long history of successful involvement in scheme design review, communications and auditing across various product classes, and we look forward to seeing the reforms and investment expand the diversity of measurable product stewardship activity nationwide.

If you are interested in the Product Stewardship Investment Fund, or need advice or assistance with your submissions and initial inquiries, we’re eager to support your efforts.

Don’t hesitate to contact the Equilibrium team on BH (03) 9372 5356.

Transforming the Waste Industry

The Morrison Government will commit $190 million to a new Recycling Modernisation Fund (RMF) that will generate $600 million of recycling investment and drive a billion-dollar transformation of Australia’s waste and recycling capacity.

Announced today by The Hon Sussan Ley MP, Minister for the Environment, and The Hon Trevor Evans MP, Assistant Minister for Waste Reduction and Environmental Management, the fund will help create more than 10,000 jobs with over 10 million tonnes of waste diverted from landfill.

The RMF will support innovative investment in new infrastructure to sort, process and remanufacture materials such as mixed plastic, paper, tyres and glass, with Commonwealth funding contingent on co-funding from industry, states and territories.

Australia’s waste and recycling transformation is being further strengthened by an additional:

> $35 million to implement Commonwealth commitments under Australia’s National Waste Policy Action Plan, which sets the direction for waste management and recycling in Australia until 2030.

> $24.6 million on Commonwealth commitments to improve our national waste data so it can measure recycling outcomes and track progress against our national waste targets.

> The introduction of new Commonwealth waste legislation to formally enact the Government’s waste export ban and encourage companies to take greater responsibility for the waste they generate, from product design through to recycling, remanufacture or disposal (Product Stewardship).

The moves are part of a national strategy to change the way Australia looks at waste, grow our economy, protect our environment and reach a national resource recovery target of 80% by 2030.

“As we cease shipping our waste overseas, the waste and recycling transformation will reshape our domestic waste industry, driving job creation and putting valuable materials back into the economy,” Minister for the Environment Sussan Ley said today.

“At the same time, we need to stop throwing away tonnes of electronic waste and batteries each year and develop new ways to recycle valuable resources.

“As we pursue National Waste Policy Action Plan targets, we need manufacturers and industry to take a genuine stewardship role that helps create a sustainable circular economy.

Assistant Minister for Waste Reduction and Environmental Management, Trevor Evans, said that the unparalleled expansion of Australia’s recycling capacity followed close consultation with industry.

“Our targeted investment will grow Australia’s circular economy, create more jobs and build a stronger onshore recycling industry,” Assistant Minister Evans said.

“Our targeted investment will grow Australia’s circular economy, create more jobs and build a stronger onshore recycling industry.

The full media release can be viewed here.

If you are interested in the announcements or need assistance in assessing the opportunhities, please contact the Equilibrium team on BH (03) 9372 5356.

 

Government Support for the Waste Industry 

Australia’s waste industry is undergoing an important transition, requiring significant investment in equipment and infrastructure, including upgrades to existing assets, as well as the installation of new assets.

Josie French provides an overview of Government funding at both federal and state level to support the transition to a circular economy.

To address a range of issues Australian governments have committed to numerous ambitious targets such as reducing total waste generated by 10% per person by 2030 (National Waste Policy Action Plan, 2019).

Further, the waste export plan aims to ban the exports of plastic, paper and cardboard, glass and tyres by 2024.

Achieving these targets and increasing capability and capacity is a goal of the funding programs, such as the Australian Recycling Investment Fund supported by Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) which offers $100 million to support manufacturing of lower emissions and energy-efficient recycled content products.

The States have also adopted waste management, resource recovery and circular economy strategies and targets to encourage and incentivise greater ambition and improved infrastructure and performance across all Australian states.

Multiple states have implemented a waste levy that provides the financial support for offering grants. For example, in New South Wales, the waste levy supports the $465.7 million available to waste and recycling improvements. Similarly, Queensland’s $100 million resource recovery industry development program supports the diversion of waste from landfill. Under the Investment Support Grants in Victoria, grants of up to $50,000 are available for activities that reduce packaging and other waste to landfill.

The following summary provides a snapshot of relevant programs administered by Federal and State Governments:

Australian Government: https://www.environment.gov.au/protection/waste-resource-recovery

Victoria: https://www.sustainability.vic.gov.au/Grants-and-funding

New South Wales: https://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/funding-and-support/nsw-environmental-trust/waste-grant-programs

Queensland: https://www.qld.gov.au/environment/pollution/management/waste/recovery/strategy

Western Australia: https://www.wasteauthority.wa.gov.au/

South Australia: https://www.greenindustries.sa.gov.au/funding

Northern Territory: https://nt.gov.au/community/community-grants-and-volunteers/community-grants/grants-directory

If you are interested in any of the above programs and looking for support with applying or navigating the guidelines, please contact the Equilibrium team on BH (03) 9372 5356.

This article was authored by Josie French.

Energy Saver for NSW Manufacturers

Assisting manufacturers to better manage their energy use and maximise efficiency is good for the environment and can contribute to improved business outcomes.

Equilibrium welcomes Round 2 of the NSW Government’s Energy Saver program and its focus on supporting manufacturers  to achieve new levels of energy efficiency. Programs such as Energy Saver provide a valuable stimulus for manufacturers to implement new energy saving technologies and processes that may otherwise be out of reach.

Manufacturers in NSW looking to implement new energy efficiency measures over the coming months should investigate any funding opportunities through the Manufacturing Efficiency Funding program. This is a timely initiative and can make a real difference for some companies wanting to save energy and improve operational efficiencies.

There are two co-funding offers available, and applications close 10 July 2020. Offers are limited to one project per site.

Offer 1: Metering and process optimisation

Up to $50,000 funding available for projects that can be completed within 18 months, and involve:

> installing metering and involve data analysis to identify faulty equipment
> installing sensors and controls to improve combustion efficiency
> fine-tuning equipment to operates more efficiently

Offer 2: Equipment upgrades

Up to $70,000 funding available for manufacturers to install or upgrade to more energy efficient equipment. Example projects may include:

> fuel switching
> bespoke heat recovery projects
> major chiller upgrades
> compressed air system modifications
> high efficiency equipment for new production lines or sites

If you are interested in the program and looking for support with applying or navigating the guidelines, please contact the Equilibrium team on BH (03) 9372 5356.

For complete details on Energy Saver NSW look here.

World Environment Day 2020 – Time for Nature

World Environment Day is the most renowned day for environmental action. Since 1974, it has been celebrated every year on 5 June; engaging governments, businesses, celebrities and citizens to focus their efforts on a pressing environmental issue.

At Equilibrium, we’re celebrating too.

The theme

In 2020, the theme is biodiversity–a concern that is both urgent and existential. Recent events, from bushfires in Brazil, the United States and Australia to locust infestations across East Africa–and now, a global disease pandemic–demonstrate the interdependence of humans and the webs of life in which they exist. Nature is sending us a message.

The community

Above all, World Environment Day offers a global platform for inspiring positive change. It recognizes that global change requires a global community.  It pushes for individuals to think about the way they consume; for businesses to develop greener models; for farmers and manufacturers to produce more sustainably; for governments to safeguard wild spaces; for educators to inspire students to live in harmony with the Earth; and for youth to become fierce gatekeepers of a green future.  It requires all of us.

The host

Every World Environment Day is hosted by a different country, in which official celebrations take place. This year’s host is Colombia in partnership with Germany.

Stay connected

This year, millions of people will be celebrating digitally, worldwide.

Sign up here to stay informed as we unite, for nature.

 

China’s National Sword and Australia’s Response

Following the decision by China in 2019 to introduce extensive new quality requirements on the importation of recyclables,  the global trading environment for secondary materials has changed dramatically.

Rick Ralph from Talking Garbology catches up with Nick Harford – Managing Director of Equilibrium, and together they discuss the decision by Australian State, Territory and Federal Environment Ministers to introduce export bans on recyclables over the next few years.

In a post COVID -19 business environment what does the ban on glass, tyres, paper and cardboard and plastics mean and where are the business opportunities?

This candid discussion between Harford and Ralph is not only informative; it also highlights the complex dynamics of the waste and resource recovery industry in Australia and abroad.

You can download the podcast here.

Worksafe Victoria’s New Manslaughter Offences

Protecting the health, safety and welfare of employees and other people at every workplace is an essential activity that requires careful and systematic management.

The importance of effective workplace safety has been further highlighted with amendments to Victoria’s laws as they relate to manslaughter offences.

More specifically, the Workplace Safety Legislation Amendment (Workplace Manslaughter and other matters) Bill 2019 passed Parliament on 26 November 2019, is expected to come into effect in 1 July 2020.

Additional information about the new new Worksafe Victoria laws can be found here.

So what are some of the key messages and changes?

> Penalties for safety and environmental breaches are getting tougher.

> New workplace safety laws in Victoria are to be introduced by July 1 2020.

> The commencement of new environmental regulations has been postponed by 12 months, now due to come into effect 1 July 2021.

> After 1 July 2020 workplace manslaughter will be a jailable offence up to 20 years. Fines will increase to $16.5million for a corporation.

> Businesses can be penalised under Environment and OHS laws if human health risks are not managed.

> Compliance with new safety and environment regulations involves ongoing monitoring and updating of risk management systems.

Worksafe expects organisations to eliminate or minimise OHS risks as far as is reasonably practicable, and the new EPA environmental regulations take a similar approach.

Organisations must keep their systems up to date with the ‘state of knowledge’ around business risks. The term ‘state of knowledge’ is used by both EPA Victoria and Worksafe Victoria, and effectively takes into account all the information a business (or any other organisation) should reasonably know about managing identified risks.

More information about the new EPA regulations can be found here.

It is up to all organisations to ensure that their workers are safe and that risks are managed wherever they may be working, including work conducted offsite and at other workplace premises.

Equilibrium staff are available to discuss how the new regulations may impact your business, and what you may to consider for ongoing compliance measures.

If you have any questions about the changes, please contact the team at Equilibrium on BH (03) 9372 5356.

New EPA Regulations for Victoria 2020

Major reforms to Victoria’s Environment Protection regulations represent a major transformation to how EPA Victoria will operate to protect public health and the environment.

In July 2020, the Environment Protection Amendment Act 2018 will come into effect and it represents a major shift in the regulations and their state- wide application. The key elements of the Act cover the following themes:

> Prevention
> Flexible and risk-based
>
Transparency
>
Justice

General environmental duty

General environmental duty (GED) is a key focus and a new concept under the Act. The EPA’s definition for GED is:

“A person who is engaging in an activity that may give rise to risks of harm to human health or the environment from pollution or waste must minimise those risks, so far as reasonably practicable”.

The EPA talks about a three-step process to comply with GED:

1. The duty holder needs to understand the risks that pollution or waste from their activities might present to human health or the environment.
2. The ways those risks can be controlled need to be identified and understood.
3. Duty holders are required to put in place any reasonably practicable measures to reduce the likelihood of the possible harm arising.

The Environment Protection Amendment Act 2018 involves various other requirements that will affect businesses and industry. More information is available via the EPA Victoria website.

Equilibrium will be assisting its clients across diverse industries and sectors to comply with the Act. We will continue to unpack the Act and share our observations in future blogs. If you have any questions about the  changes, please contact the team at Equilibrium:

Nick Harford on 0419 993 234 or Damien Wigley on 0404 899 961.

For our previous post on the Victorian EPA, visit here.

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