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All posts by Leigh Bernoth

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

 

 

New environmental laws in Victoria from July 1 2021

EPA Victoria will have increased powers from 1 July 2021 to prevent harm to public health and the environment from pollution and waste. 

The laws include sweeping changes which transforms EPA powers and requirements for business owners and operators. It is the responsibility of all business directors and managers to understand the new laws and how to comply. It is also your responsibility to make sure all employees understand requirements under the new laws.

One of the more pivotal and central changes is the introduction of the General Environmental Duty (GED). The GED is all-inclusive, applying to all businesses in Victoria, irrespective of size or type of operation. In short, under the GED, all Victorian businesses and organisations must take action to protect the environment and human health.

For many businesses in Victoria environmental risk management is already embedded into everyday operations, and the GED should require minimal change. However, now is the time to review systems against the new laws and be confident of compliance. It will be important to keep risk registers and risk management plans up to date and:

>Ensure environmental risk of pollution to land, air or water is assessed for all business activities.
>Action plans are in place to eliminate or control risks.
>Actions are implemented in a timely manner, and effectiveness monitored.
>Keep documented records of risk assessments and action plans to demonstrate

EPA Victoria provides guides and tools to help businesses comply with the GED, including:

>EPA Self-Assessment Tool – for supporting small business with action planning
>Assessing and Controlling Risk Business Guide – risk management framework for business
>Managing low risk activities
guidance for businesses with low risk, e.g. offices, cafes, retail.

Victorian Government Funding for Recycling

The Victorian Government is currently driving investment to facilitate research, expanding the local recycling processing and manufacturing industry. This initiative delivered by Sustainability Victoria is designed to create more products from recyclable materials and support new local jobs.

Sustainability Victoria (SV) currently is offering three grants to support waste management, resource recovery and recycling innovations and improvements.

Recycling Victoria – Business Support Fund

Applications are open now until 12 March 2021, and funding is available for feasibility and capital support via two streams:

>Identification Grants: $75,000 to $200,000 ($2:$1, SV:business) Funding is available  to support projects that help businesses adapt and apply circular economy principles. Projects may involve materials efficiency, feasibility assessments, business case development and pilot trials.
> Implementation Grants: $100,000 to $500,000 ($1:$1, SV:business) Funding is available for individual businesses. Collaborative partnerships may apply for up to $1,000,000 for projects that will be implemented across multiple businesses.

Successful project applications must be able to improve or develop new circular economy-based products, services, markets and models. Funds may be used to support a range of essential activities including; materials efficiency, productivity upgrades, capital equipment purchases, and marketing new products.

Projects must deliver on at least one of the following key SV targets;

> Reducing or preventing waste by 750 tonnes per annum.
>Increasing upcycling by 750 tonnes per annum.
>Improving materials intensity of a service, model or product by 750 tonnes per annum.
>Increasing capacity to recycle materials and prevent waste by at least 2,500 tonnes per annum.

Recycling Victoria – Innovation Fund

Applications are open now until 15 February 2021. Funding is available to support innovative projects via two streams:

> Food Innovation: $75,000 to $150,000 ($1:$1) funding is available for collaborative projects that apply innovative circular economy business models and practices for food waste or for the food sector. The application must nominate a lead organisation and involve at least one other partner organisation.
> Collaborative Innovation: $150,000 to $450,000 ($1:$1) funding is available for collaborative partnerships that apply innovative circular economy business models and practices to address systemic barriers with innovative thinking and practice.

Full details for the new grants are available at SV Website.

If your business is interested in further information on any of these grants, or would like assistance completing an application, please contact the Equilibrium team on (03) 9372 5356 or at info@equil.com.au

Equilibrium often post about new grants so be sure to follow our blog posts.

New EPA Victoria Guidelines for Business

New policies, laws and regulations can result in changes that require new levels of knowledge. Understanding the obligations associated with government reforms and amendments is an essential step towards better managing risks and ensuring compliance.

EPA Victoria recognises the importance of support tools and information for business, and this month released six new guideline documents aimed at supporting Victorian companies transition their compliance systems to meeting the new environmental regulations.

The new regulations, due to come into effect July 2021, have a strong emphasis on preventing environmental harm and will require businesses to identify their risks and implement suitable control measures to manage those risks.

The guides are titled ‘Preventing Harm to People and the Environment’ and include a 4-step process for managing risks, which will be particularly useful for businesses in the early stages of developing risk their management systems.

For those businesses that are more advanced on the risk management journey the guides include useful and up to date compliance information, for example: further discussion is provided around the concept of managing risks in a manner that is ‘reasonably practicable’; and, for the waste and recycling sector further context is provided around the ‘Declaration of Use’ tool that businesses will need to use and maintain to demonstrate safe transport and storage of waste material.

The new guidelines are available at the EPA website, and can be accessed in the links below:

Construction

Manufacturing

Waste and recycling

Agriculture

Mining and quarrying

Retail

Navigating the regularity landscape isn’t always straightforward, however relevant support tools and information documents combined with specialist advice and guidance, can significantly help your business to better manage risks with a focus on prevention.

If you are looking for compliance support in line with any of the guidelines discussed, please don’t hesitate to contact the Equilibrium team on BH  (03) 9372 5356.