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Tag Archives: Design for Environment

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.

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

 

 

Addressing barriers to Product Stewardship in Australia

Product stewardship calls for companies, supply chains and retailers to take greater responsibility for their services and products across their whole life cycle, from design to production to use and, finally, disposal. 

Earlier in July the Product Stewardship Centre of Excellence released a white paper report “Addressing the Barriers: A needs assessment of product stewardship in Australia.” The paper aims to explore and understand the barriers to product stewardship in Australia, investigating opportunities for further development and expansion of product stewardship across the nation.

The paper discusses the major challenge such as free-riders; businesses or organisations that may benefit from product stewardship activity without contributing to the implementation or operation. 

Although not discussed in the paper, the voluntary trend of product stewardship in Australia is also an issue to consider. 

This trend is a particularly Australian phenomenon, as most other countries support regulatory approaches. Australian industry leadership towards product stewardship should be congratulated. For example, the recent announcement of the Australian Toy Association partnering with other leading brands to investigate product stewardship of toys, and the recognition of best practice for Tyre Stewardship Australia are positive developments. 

However, similar to the free-riding organisations, companies and industries who use voluntary as a means to defer, delay or avoid responsibility should be brought to account. 

Voluntary approaches cannot be realistically expected to work in a timely manner where there is no industry agreement and coordination, and where the brand owners are diffuse, have little or no local decision-making authority or are no longer trading. In such cases it at best will be a slow process and many years before some sort of voluntary approach is figured out. 

In general, the need for government intervention is generally greater the more complex the products and supply chain.

For product stewardship broadly to meet community expectations, to reach waste and recycling targets, to discourage free-riders and to support genuine leadership efforts, there therefore needs to be clear market signals that government will regulate when and where needed. 

While the Centre’s white paper correctly highlights key barriers, overcoming them will require the government to act where appropriate to put pressure on industry and ensure accountability, and that includes judicious use of regulatory powers.

ARENA launch $43 million Industrial Energy Transformation Studies Program

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency announced a $43 million grant program on behalf of the federal government to assist in identifying methods to cut industrial energy costs and emissions. The first round of the Industrial Energy Transformation Studies Program will offer $25 million to assist research and the development of business case projects for organisations in the mining, agriculture, manufacturing sectors, water supply, gas supply, waste services and data centres. Applicants can apply under one of two rounds: 

>Round 1A – Feasibility Studies (Up to $10 million available). Grants can be between $100,000 and $500,00 for up to 75% of eligible project costs
>Round 1B –
Engineering Studies (up to $15 million available). Grants can be between $250,000 and $5 million for up to 50% of eligible project costs.

The program aims to fund studies that deliver transformational improvements in de-carbonisation technology and energy efficiency practices for industry. Eligible projects must also demonstrate high replicability potential across similar industry settings.

Applications for the initial round of funding will be open on the 6th of July.

ARENA will be hosting separate information sessions for Round 1A and Round 1B in the week commencing 12 July, further information regarding these information sessions will be published on the Industrial Energy Transformation Studies Program website in the coming weeks.

Greenwashing and the ‘race to zero’

Global markets, shareholders and consumers are impelling corporates to announce climate action and net zero policies across the globe. This movement has resulted in a rush of company directors announcing net zero pledges without fully examining their capacity and ability to meet their goals.

Renew Economy stressed that failures to meet these goals, could be considered “guilty or misleading conduct”, resulting in legal or regulatory penalties. The long timeframe to achieve net zero goals and the current lack of clear, unified regulatory approach, may have set a false sense of ease. In March, The Conversation among other researchers published the first analysis of net zero commitments of 4,000+ sub-national governments and companies which account for 80% of global emissions. The study highlighted that only 60% of plans announced interim targets and 62% of the corporates announced reporting mechanisms.

If corporates are serious with their net zero intent, it will be met with robust measures in place and pledging a target which can be held accountable by shareholders and consumers. Credibility should be demonstrated by accreditations from impartial mechanisms such as a science-based target, which will validate whether the plan is credible. Last week Australia Post and Newcastle Port have become the latest Australian organisation to have their emissions targets recognised by the Science-Based Targets program, validating both the corporates’ efforts to limit temperature rise “well below two degrees”.

Net zero targets are statements of corporate intent, and should not be made unless research has been undertaken to ensure they are deliverable. Corporates are encouraged to seek advice and support regarding this. Goals should be genuine, and importantly realistic in their approach to reach net zero.

Considerations for the impacts on SMEs as major corporates ‘race to zero’

Numerous corporations have joined the “race to net zero” emissions, announcing targets and policies to reduce their carbon outputs. The impacts these declarations will have on small to medium sized enterprises (SME) within major corporates’ supply chains should be considered.

For example, Unilever is a leader in producing fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) and their announced climate policy and targets in their Climate Transition Action Plan. The plan was put to shareholder vote earlier this month with the majority of shareholders voting in support of the climate action strategy. The company’s voluntary targets, signify a movement that responsible businesses cannot and should not wait for regulation. Corporates opting for voluntary annual emission reports and in this case, an advisory shareholder vote, signify an increased level of transparency and accountability between investors, consumers and businesses. 

However, the impacts of these policies on the supply chain and wider network need to be considered.  

>Where does the cost lie? The plan discusses the intent to cost neutrally reduce the emissions from raw material suppliers. The cost of reducing these emissions will be placed onto the suppliers, potentially placing the burden on the supply chains of SME’s to shoulder.
>What support for SMEs will be provided? The introduction of carbon data invoices is an example of an area where smaller companies will need assistance. Although it may sound like a simple tweak to the system, it may be complex to set up and deliver and potentially not cost neutral.
>How will the new supplier reporting frameworks chosen by major multinationals start to shape and influence the uptake of different reporting methodologies? As there are an overwhelming variety of these methodologies in use (TFCD, Science based targets, GRI, CDP, as well as national government systems), there is much debate around how to select one global standard to use. Unilever in this case have chosen Science Based Targets, which may have an influence on the uptake of that particular framework at a global scale. 

Corporates are setting expectations on acceptable reporting methodologies for their suppliers. This has the potential to be a positive environmental step, as data will be influential in setting a global consensus for mass scale climate reporting methods. When large corporations dictate that science based targets are the new reporting frameworks they want from suppliers, it may be hard to envision how this reporting framework won’t become a new norm for SMEs in Australia and elsewhere.

Written by Marita Doak and Donald Fraser

MMI open for recycling and clean energy manufacturing grants

Earlier this month, the federal government announced a series of Modern Manufacturing Initiative (MMI) grants for major recycling and clean energy projects. The government is inviting applications under its Recycling and Clean Energy stream, offering grants on average of $4 million, ranging from $1 million to $20 million. The $1.3 billion in funding will assist manufacturers to scale up, commercialise and collaborate.

The MMI grant stream is now open and made up of two separate funding opportunities; 

>Manufacturing translation component: will assist manufacturers in expressing their ideas into commercial outcomes and encourage investment in non R&D innovation.
>Manufacturing integration component: will assist in commercializing innovative concepts, integrating into local and domestic supply chains.

The government has outlined examples of the grants, addressing the funding suitability to include activities which aim to enable greater use of recycled materials across supply chains, and/or that promote increased use of clean energy within their industrial systems.

Applications for these grants close on the 5th of May and businesses must provide co – funding.

Call for collaboration and coordination on circular economy

The CSIRO has released a National Circular Economy Roadmap calling for a national strategy to address fundamental environmental issues and foster regional development.

The Roadmap is a strong call for collaboration and coordination however it is somewhat limited in its scope and thereby risks compounding the problem of circular economy just being another term for standard practice.

The CSIRO defines circular economy as continually seeking reduction of the environmental impacts of production and consumption and enabling economic growth through more innovative uses of natural resources and efficient recovery of materials.

However, the Roadmap focusses on the end-of-pipe issues. It presents the 2018 recycling report figures for plastic, glass and paper as the indicators of a need for a change in current systems and strategies.

Nonetheless, the central recommendation highlights the critical need for Australia to adopt a unified and innovative circular economy strategy to achieve a national shift in mindset with lasting results and impact.

The report highlights:

> Lack of consistency across Australia particularly in waste governance, consumer education and industry standards along with differing definitions and practises.
>An “end of pipe” focus rather than upgrading product design materials selection and manufacturing.
>That the “take, make and dispose” way of thinking and consumption pattern has barriers including more expensive primary materials and unacceptable ways of dealing with waste.
>Australia’s economy and reliance on imported goods creates the need for a symbiotic strategy that links and aligns with global forces and activities.

All participants in the circular economy have a shared responsibility to make it efficient and effective, it is not just an environmental shift but a whole new way of economic thinking.

Australian Governments are currently promoting circular economy as primarily a waste and recycling policy – which is a limited scope of the concept.

The Australian Council of Recyclers has recently noted that the fervent use of the term circular economy risks just being a rebadging of current activities and programs. Or as the University of Queensland Centre for Recycling of Organic Waste director Johannes Biala put it  ”…we are at grave risk of merely exchanging one buzzword for another without conceptualising and defining what we mean and what we want to achieve.”

Government, industry, community and research all play paramount roles within this hypothetical yet achievable system.

The priorities set out in the CSIRO Roadmap highlight some specific moves needed to advance Australia towards a circular economy, and consistency, collaboration and coordination will be a good step.

To read the CSIRO report in full visit this link.

 

Recycling Victoria: A New Economy

The Victorian Government is seeking to improve the performance of the waste and recycling sector, and has released a 10-year policy and action plan – Recycling Victoria – to reform the system with a focus on the circular economy.

Victoria exports approximately 1.27million tonnes of paper, plastic and cardboard each year overseas, and this includes 30% of all recycling collected from Victorian households.

The figures are compelling; it is estimated that by 2046, Victorians will create 40% more waste than in 2017-18. The extent of the activity and industry development is significant as highlighted by the total quantum of funding that has poured into Victorian waste and resource recovery initiatives; $134 million from the Victorian Government since 2015.

You can download a copy the Recycling Victoria policy here.

A four bin waste and recycling system, a container deposit system (CDS), a circular economy business innovation centre, landfill levy reform and increased funding for infrastructure, are among the package of measures outlined in the policy.

The policy in part talks about the transition to a circular economy and the importance of taking action across the life-cycle of materials to maximise value and minimise waste.

Four specific goals

Four specific goals guide the process of moving from a take-make-waste model, to a more system-wide approach that seeks to be circular, sustainable and economically responsible.

These four goals are aimed at taking a smarter approach to making, using, recycling and managing products, buildings, infrastructure and materials.

Goal 1 – Design to last, repair and recycle

Generate less waste in businesses through innovation and design; use recycled materials in products and consider impacts across product life cycles; and support business to explore new circular economy business models.

Targets and outcomes include:

> 15 per cent reduction in total waste generation per capita between 2020 and 2030.

> Divert 80% of waste from landfill by 2030, with an interim target of 72% by 2025.

> Cut the volume of organic material going to landfill by 50% between 2020 and 2030, with an interim target of 20% reduction by 2025.

Goal 2 – Use products to create more value

Help people make smart purchasing decisions and extend the life of products and support the reuse economy; repair goods where possible.

Targets and outcomes include:

> 15% reduction in total waste generation per capita between 2020 and 2030.

> Support Victorian communities and council to reduce waste.

> Prevent plastic pollution.

> Support the reuse economy.

Goal 3 – Recycle more resources

Reform kerbside collections to generate more value from waste; improve the separation of recyclable materials; develop markets for recovered materials; plan for and boost investment in recycling infrastructure; embed the waste hierarchy in the management of materials; support the development of appropriate waste to energy facilities.

Targets and outcomes include:

> Divert 80% of waste from landfill by 2030, with and interim target of 72% by 2025.

> Halve the volume of organic material going to landfill by 50% between 2020 and 2030, with an interim target of 20% reduction by 2030.

> 100% of households have access to a separate food and organics recovery service or local composting by 2030.

Goal 4 – Reduce harm from waste and pollution

Protect communities and the environment from high-risk and hazardous wastes.

Targets and outcomes include:

> Support safe and effective high-risk and hazardous waste management.

> The Vic Gov will consider the potential introduction of new levies for waste being stockpiled for long periods, recover avoided waste levies and disposal fee for illegally stockpiled wastes, ensure adequate disposal point of asbestos across the state.

> The Victorian Government spends an estimated $58 million each year in clean-up costs at abandoned waste sites and $105 million each year to respond to stockpile fires. Clean-up costs and lost landfill levy revenue from illegal dumping equates to $30 million a year.

Monitoring and measuring progress

Of course, accurate data and transparency will be key to monitoring the reforms and their intended outcomes. More specifically the Victorian policy outlines it ‘key commitment’ to expanding Victorian’s waste data systems by:

> Establish a framework for monitoring progress towards the circular economy, including the identification of indicators and metrics

> Introduce a new waste and recycling data system to enable better waste management and circular economy monitoring

> Continuing to provide public waste and recycling market intelligence reporting.

The reforms in the Recycling Victoria policy herald an important and necessary opportunity for government, industry and the community to work together to improve kerbside recycling, invest in priority infrastructure and better manage high-risk and hazardous waste.

Recycling Victoria also outlines additional initiatives that can support waste avoidance and behaviour change, further develop waste to energy options and meet community and local council expectations for reliable services.

Equilibrium will be assisting its clients across diverse industries and sectors to adopt specific elements and aspects of the Recycling Victoria policy.

If you have any questions about the  policy and how your organisation can benefit, implement or comply with specific goals, please contact the team at Equilibrium:

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

The Future of Waste and Recycling in NSW

Waste and recycling are firmly on the agenda at all levels of government. Various industries and sectors are also confronting the challenges and opportunities head-on, including an increasingly informed and aware public.

In response, the NSW Government has commenced consultation on the development of a 20 year waste strategy as well as some very focused planning in response to plastics pollution. The NSW approach stands out with a view to addressing core challenges while also being pragmatic and mindful of community expectations.

The consultation process is comprehensive, timely and underpinned by expert advice, analysis and future-oriented thinking and planning. In many respects it demonstrates some considered thinking about where and how waste and recycling fits into the circular economy ambitions. The figures and statistics outlined by the NSW Government are compelling:

Public consultation on the issues paper – Cleaning Up Our Act: The Future of Waste and Resources – is now open and submissions from all interested stakeholders are encouraged. For more information about making a submission and sharing your views look here.

The issues paper outlines four key directions which seeks to test a number of options that represent specific stages in the circular economy. This approach and thinking reflects some of the more advanced work being conducted at a State Government level.

The four directions are:

1: Generate less waste by avoiding and ‘designing out’ waste, to keep materials circulating in the economy.

2: Improve collection and sorting to maximise circular economy outcomes and lower costs.

3: Plan for future infrastructure by ensuring the right infrastructure is located in the right place and at the right time.

4: Create end markets by fostering demand for recycled products in NSW (particularly glass, paper, organics, plastics and metals) so that recovered materials re-enter our economy and drive business and employment opportunities.

A diverse range of options sit under each of the directions and reflect a sound and holistic view of what the solutions and actions might entail. The ‘Future of Waste and is asking the right questions and posing solutions for consideration. It also has the potential to achieve next level change at scale if and when implementation is adequately resourced.

For more information about the 20 year waste strategy and providing feedback look here.

Redirecting the Future of Plastics in NSW

The NSW Government is also acting on plastics. Their discussion paper,  Cleaning Up Our Act: Redirecting the Future of Plastics in NSw, provides the basis for reform and solutions to help advance the management of plastics in NSW.  The discussion paper sets targets to:

> reduce the amount of plastic generated;
> increase recycling rates;
> reduce plastic pollution; and
> make NSW a global leader in plastic research and solution development.

The NSW Government is consulting with the community and stakeholders before finalising the NSW Plastics Plan. Input from the public is invited with a particular interest in the proposed targets and  priority directions, with a view to this feedback informing the development of the NSW Plastics Plan.

As we know, plastics saturate our existence like few other materials. They have become a recurring topic of discussion at many levels, and while we can acknowledge their unique characteristics and benefits, the public has developed a distinct distaste for plastics and their application across diverse product and packaging categories.

In many ways, the NSW Government is considering how we can produce and consume plastics within a context of environmental and social sensitivity, while also remembering practical and functional value of plastics. NSW acknowledges public anxiety, ecological impacts and industry concerns and highlight why action is required on plastics pollution.

This discussion paper sets out the following four key outcomes for each stage of the life-cycle of plastic, each supported by a proposed target and priority directions.

Outcome 1: Reduce plastic waste generation
Proposed target: Phase out key single-use plastics 

Outcome 2: Make the most of our plastic resources
Proposed target: Triple the proportion of plastic recycled in NSW across all sectors and streams by 2030 

Outcome 3: Reduce plastic waste leakage
Proposed target: Reduce plastic litter items by 25% by 2025 

Outcome 4: Improve our understanding of the future of plastics
Proposed target: Make NSW a leader in national and international research on plastics 

The deadline for feedback on the discussion paper until 5.00pm Friday 8 May 2020. For more information about NSW Plastics Plan and providing feedback look here.

Do you need help with your submission?

Equilibrium will be assisting its clients in the preparation of submissions to this important strategy consultation process.

If you have any questions about the 20 Year Waste Strategy or the Plastics Plan and how your organisation can benefit from making a submission, please contact the team at Equilibrium:

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