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Category Archives: Equilibrium

Can a global framework authenticate voluntary carbon credit schemes?

The Voluntary Carbon Markets Integrity (VCMI) is a multi stakeholder platform driving initiatives focused on ensuring credible, net zero aligned participation in global voluntary carbon markets. The VCMI developed a global framework to guide the commitment and targets of voluntary carbon credit (CC) schemes. Australia’s voluntary scheme, the Emissions Reduction Fund (ERF) could be guided by this international framework. The ERF provides incentives for a range of organisations and individuals to adopt new practices and technologies to reduce their carbon emissions. Within the scheme one Australian Carbon Credit Unit (ACCU) is earned for each tonne of CO2 stored or avoided by a project. ACCUs can then be sold to generate income, either to the government through carbon abatement contracts, or in the secondary market. The VCMI justify the development of a global framework through claims that the use of carbon credits, such as ACCUs, could hinder the development of greenhouse gas (GHG) abatement action within supply chains and companies, which is essential to reaching net zero targets.

Benchmarking CC claims would help provide clarity for consumers and investors. The many phrases promoting commitments, “carbon neutral”, “”carbon negative”, “carbon free”, “climate positive”, “net zero GHG” or “net zero emissions” targets, make it difficult to identify greenwashing targets against robust, transparent commitments. The inconsistency exposes an element of risk for companies, as overstating climate performance can lead to litigation and fines when commitments are deemed false or deceptive. The purpose of a global code would help develop a clear guide for the use of voluntary CC schemes, positioning CC within a company’s overarching net zero commitments, helping to identify, define and validate a company’s commitments.

The VCMI outlines a code of practice within four steps, with all components assisting organisations in making credible claims about their voluntary use of carbon credits.

> Meet the prerequisites: The VCMI outlines that companies must only use CC “in addition to – not a substitute for science-aligned decarbonisation across their value chains”. Before involvement within voluntary CCs schemes companies must make a public announcement outlining their commitment to reach net zero emissions by at least 2050, which will cover scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions. This commitment must include near term targets and milestone targets as well as following the Science Based Target Initiative guidance for setting the target boundary and emissions coverage.

> Identify claim (s) to make: The VCMI offers gold, silver and bronze statuses. These score commitments based on progress towards its corporate climate targets for a given year and the use of offsets to go beyond those targets.

> Purchase high quality credits: Credits must be associated with a “credibly governed standard setting” body, which must  have environmental quality and must be compatible with human rights.

> Report transparently on the use of carbon credits: Transparent reporting of information regarding the number and type of credits is essential to substantiate the claims.

Although a step in the right direction the VCMIs claims and code depend on a functional and reliable governance and assurance system. Would the adoption of a code work in the Australian markets?  Especially given that the current CC scheme and Clean Energy Regulator have been challenged in the media due to claims of “continuing to lack transparency”?

However successful it may be, a global code of practice could assist in creating a foundation for the credible use of carbon credits and associated claims, helping limit greenwashing, set interim science based targets, and provide transparency. Above all, the scheme is designed to limit the scope of companies using offsets to claim net zero targets. Ensuring that CCs are one element of a greater commitment strategy which includes abatement of carbon emissions.

Equilibrium works across various industries including agriculture, transport and manufacturing to assist in developing emissions reduction schemes. Our carbon management services provide clients a variety of reduction opportunities in exploring carbon abatement within supply chains, providing renewable alternatives as well as carbon offset purchases.

The final version of the standard is expected to be published in early 2023.

Read VCMI’s full Claims Code of Practice

Submit Feedback for the Provisional VCMI Claims Code of Practice

New recycling grants on offer in Victoria

New grant opportunities have been announced for Victoria to support projects which aim to promote market demand for recycled-content products.

Grants between $30,000 and $400,000 are available under the new Recycling Victoria Markets Acceleration fund.

Stream 1 of the fund is available to projects which demonstrate and validate new innovative uses for recycled materials. Stream 2 will support activities related to the commercialisation of processes and products containing recycled materials.

Applications for both streams close on Jun 2, 2022.

Additionally the Victorian government announced that applications for the Business Support Fund for circular economy projects will open on the 25th of May. Funding between $50,00 and $1million is available across the two streams.

Stream 1 of the new grant, Business Support Fund – Round 2, will support the development of a circular economy business case. Stream 2 will support the implementation of circular economy business models and practices that avoid waste generation in Victoria.

Applications for both streams close on Jul 7, 2022.

Get in touch for more information and grant application support.

Australian clothing reuse export accreditation scheme

Equilibrium has been engaged by Charitable Recycling Australia to explore options for a credible, realistic and transparent process for an Australian clothing reuse export accreditation scheme. Such a scheme is intended to outline standards to promote the significant environmental, economic and social benefits of this important market. The scheme will aim to promote a circular economy, reinforcing repair and reuse of garments to maximize their life cycle before recycling or downcycling of materials is considered.

Feedback and engagement sessions are being run by Equilibrium with Charitable Recycling Australia members, local and state governments and key industry stakeholders. The focus of the program and options will primarily cover:

    >Regulatory compliance management and performance
    >Systems and reporting (including environment, safety and quality)
    >Collection and transport of materials
    >Sorting, dismantling and storage of materials
    >Downstream sale and distribution of recyclable materials
    >Management of supply chain relationships
    >Downstream vendor engagement process, documentation and reporting

The initial program is likely to be a foundation platform to support Charitable Recycling Australia in engaging with collections and export supply chains, leading to an integrated solution to promote a circular economy.

Ending Cigarette Butt Litter, A report prepared for WWF

The World Wildlife Fund engaged Equilibrium to investigate solutions to the environmental problem of cigarette filter and butt litter in Australia. Of the 17.8 billion cigarettes currently consumed each year, as much as 8 million end up as litter.  Cigarette butt filters are made from non-bio degradable plastic and can take up to 12 – 15 years to break down into micro plastics. The World Health Organisation has advocated for the elimination of filters as they do not protect against the harms of smoking.

Equilibrium’s report examines the international initiatives and policies to combat cigarette butt waste. Equilibrium concluded that a national ban on plastic cigarette butt filters or a product stewardship scheme would have the greatest impact in reducing cigarette butt litter.

The assessment, research and findings of Equilibrium’s report provide WWF with insight and direction for the potential design of a product stewardship scheme for cigarette butts.

Read Equilibrium’s full report here

Grant opportunities in New South Wales and Victoria

The NSW government has announced four grants available to improve recycling and waste services.  

> Organics Infrastructure: $6 million is available to support the processing of organic waste. This grant is available to local businesses, councils and projects that upgrade, build and expand organics processing infrastructure. Applications close October 21.

> Organics Collection: $12 million is available to support councils and regional organisations tied to councils to divert FOGO waste from kerbside collection. Applications close October 28.

> Circular Solar Grants: $7 million is available for government organisations councils research organisations, industry and not for profits for the development of innovative schemes that recycle and battery waste and solar panels. Applications close November 4.

> Litter Prevention Grants: $2 million is available for community litter reduction projects and schemes. These initiatives could include cigarette butt bin installations or community clean up days. Applications close November 8.

Round two of Innovation Fund grants open for applications in Victoria

In Victoria funding is available to support collaborative projects that aim to design out waste, improving both economic and environmental outcomes. Applications for both streams are open for projects that emphasize action within all phases of a resources’ lifecycle, promoting circular economy initiatives.

The two streams of funding available are:

>Stream One: Textiles Innovation: Between $75,000 – $150,000 of funding is available per project. Grants are available for projects which have a focus on preventing textile waste. Applications are open to industry groups, businesses, charities and research institutions.

> Stream Two: Collaborative Innovation: Between $150,000 and $250,000 of funding is available for each project. Grants are available to businesses, industry groups, charities and research institutions. Projects must have a collaborative focus on preventing waste from multiple organisations within a specific region, supply chain or sector.

The closing date for both Victorian grants is Monday 15th of November at 11:59pm.

Waste Export License

The Australian Government has implemented the Waste Export Ban, and has begun to regulate the export of Australian of certain wastes.

As of July 2021, glass and mixed plastics “waste” are regulated for export. Baled and whole tyres are set to be regulated from the 1st of December and other materials  including cardboard and mixed paper by July 2022. Separate requirements are required for hazardous waste.

Each type of waste stream will have its own regulation start date and rules. To continue to export waste, organisations will have to:

>Meet the requirements and rules or be exempted
>Declare each consignment
>Hold a waste export license for the waste type

Under this ban, exporters and organisations which meet these specific requirements are able to apply for a license to export regulated waste overseas. Waste export licenses are granted for a period of up to three years for organisations who meet certain criteria.

Equilibrium has developed a guide and can help with the waste export license application. For more information please contact us or visit the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment website.

Manufacturing and Life Cycle Assessment

The manufacturing industry plays an important role in global economic development, however it contributes to a significant share of negative environmental impacts in the form of pollution and waste. Manufacturing companies are subject to increasing pressure from consumers and legislation to improve their own activities towards more environmentally conscious manufacturing processes which create less environmentally damaging products. This pressure calls for product designers and production engineers to identify improvement measures for existing manufacturing systems, as well as create innovative concepts for new products. These investigations need to consider the entire life cycle of the manufacturing system and product, including the impacts related to production, use and end of life disposal. 

Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) is a tool used by companies and product designers to better understand their products’ overall and complete impacts – positive and negative. It helps businesses to quantify impacts at the various stages and provides insights  to improve performance and reduce environmental impacts. 

Why undertake an LCA? There are various reasons:

Stakeholder and consumer expectations: Increasingly consumers are seeking products with reduced environmental impacts, this is reflected in product purchasing choices.
> Industry directions: The manufacturing industry in Australia has a leading role in improving sustainability of its products.
> Voluntary environmental management systems: ISO 14001 is driving continuous improvement and uncovering business efficiency. 

While the key objectives for an LCA often begin with aiming to better understand environmental footprint, the framework can be used to assess other issues including economic and social factors. Examples may include:

> Uncovering production losses, which manufacturing business may refer to as ‘scrap rates’.
> Identifying areas of high energy use, where if savings can be made, will reduce costs and greenhouse emissions.
> Transport and logistics reviews may reveal options to reduce emissions and save costs.
> Raw materials choice for manufacture, including reviewing supplier social procurement practices to protect business reputation.

Businesses that are currently assessing their internal footprint are already on the path to developing an LCA. Examples of this include energy efficiency studies, where energy per unit production helps set a benchmark for assessing business improvements. 

If you would like to know more about LCA’s and how an LCA study may help your business development please contact us.

A simple diagram of life cycle assessment

 

 

Review of Standards and Specifications for Recycled Content

This project uncovered a diverse range of issues and views, from high-level structural themes through to leadership capacity and very specific observations about particular material types, standards and performance.

Equilibrium was engaged by the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment to undertake a review of current Australian standards and specifications for recycled content products including providing details on current documentation for the use of recycled materials in product manufacturing, buildings and infrastructure works.

As part of the engagement Equilibrium consulted with key stakeholders on their views as to whether the absence of any particular standards or specifications may be obstructing the take-up of recycled materials. Stakeholder interviews also canvassed broader factors influencing increased use of recycled materials.

The report contains a list of current standards and specifications as well as a compilation of the consultation results, general findings and recommendations.  Appendix A of the report is available as a separate MS Excel file.  Also attached is a summary report containing examples from the main report, as well as information gained from interviews with stakeholders.

Your can download a copy of the report and appendices here.

For NSW’s response to create end markets by fostering demand for recycled products, read our blog post here.

More information

Damien Wigley
General Manager
Equilibrium
damien@equil.com.au

 

 

NRMA – Child restraint recycling trial a triple-whammy win for community

Road safety, environmental benefits and regional jobs: a program that can deliver on any of these targets could expect the support of NRMA, so a scheme that has ready-made outcomes for all three gets our full attention – and it deserves yours too.

Add to that the fact that children and the disabled are the primary beneficiaries and it’s clear that the child car safety seat stewardship trial has the potential to deliver enormous positives for the community.

In order to ensure a permanent recycling program, Equilibrium must demonstrate significant community engagement and support. People with used and expired child restraints are urged to drop them at the following locations to support this valuable trial:

Kiama Community Recycling Centre: 446 Riverside Dr, Minnamurra.

Penrith Community Recycling Centre:Gate 3, 96 Dunheved Circuit, St Marys.

Tamworth Community Recycling Centre: 123a Forest Road, Tamworth.

Nudgee Resource Recovery Centre, 1402 Nudgee Rd, Nudgee Beach, Queensland

Willawong Resource Recovery Centre, 360 Sherbrooke Rd, Willawong, Queensland.

Reedy Creek Community Waste and Recycling Centre, 61 Hutchinson Street, Burleigh Heads, Queensland.

Darebin Resource Recovery Centre, 30 Kurnai Avenue, Reservoir Victoria