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Category Archives: Environment

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.

Vote #1 Environment, Promoting Sustainability in Times of Uncertainty

Frequent ‘extreme’ climate disasters, a pandemic and international conflict…the unprecedented has become the precedented. Now more than ever, during times of great uncertainty, governments and businesses must take urgent climate action. This is a wake up call to business, it is startlingly evident that no one is exempt from the impacts of climate change, conflict and Covid. The interconnectedness of commodity markets and global supply chains in our ever-more globalised world, highlighted by the recent energy price shocks and Covid-19 pandemic, will mean flow-on effects will touch every type of business in every location. An intimidating prospect to be sure.

Uncertain times are arguably the best time to change practices and habits. Or better yet, make proactive changes to safeguard and reduce the likelihood of risk before uncertainty. A proactive move now to sustainable practices could minimise the impacts felt by economic disruptions and supply chain collapses due climate disasters, international conflicts and the COVID 19 pandemic. Promoting local manufacturing and trade, incentivising the transition to renewable energy generation and nation-wide targets in line with global leaders of climate action would help to mitigate the inescapable risk of international supply chain collapses, shipping delays, energy uncertainty and economic burden of rising fossil fuel prices.

An opportunity exists, to mitigate these risks, creating a resilient and robust system that is both securing its financial future and remedying past wrong-doings against the environment. The solution to help mitigate climate change is in fact a solution to our future inevitable financial woes. Scientists are still analyzing the correlation of climate change and the severe flooding occurring in New South Wales and Queensland. However we do know that climate change will increase the intensity and frequency of these extreme weather events. There will be huge financial challenges ahead for councils to rebuild their communities, but if we can secure natural assets we can secure markets and future growth. Government and businesses investments in promoting the switch to a cleaner electric vehicle would also mitigate the economic burden felt by rising fuel prices whilst lowering carbon emissions and the use of finite resources. Take a risk lense when looking at sustainability and climate change. For companies,governments and businesses the risk of climate inaction far outweighs the requirements to do something now. What we can see from covid response globally is how easy it can be to adapt.

This time of uncertainty presents some exciting opportunities for all areas of business to make an impact. The sustainability movement is moving beyond the messaging of “please recycle” and “switch off the lights”, to look at core roles within core industries, and how they can impact change. Industry and government need to be change makers and apply a sustainability lense to what they are working through to create benefits that will support business, community and society in these “unprecedented” times. Tangible changes from business and governments such as a switch to renewable energy, creating a carbon management program, changing travel processes, increasing building efficiency, supporting local supply changes can all limit the impacts felt by uncertainty. Funding opportunities and grants are available to businesses, councils and governments to support the progression towards a sustainable economy and society. Our projects at Equilibrium have helped clients deliver impactful changes across a wide range of sectors and service areas. Globalization, industry connections and the broadness of sustainability means impacts are affecting every industry, company and supply chain, everyone has an opportunity to contribute.

Packaging target progress patchy

The Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation (APCO) Collective Impact Report is a presentation and analysis of the current progress towards APCO’s 2025 packaging targets.

Although the report is written using optimistic and positive language, it is reporting significant shortcomings in performance towards APCO’s 2025 targets.

Two of the three key APCO 2025 targets are going in the wrong direction and the “problem” of packaging is, by APCO’s measures, getting worse.

It is notable that the report puts forward actions to address the current gaps.

Thirty new actions have been identified. While inherently good, the 30 new actions beg some questions.

Firstly, there is no explanation in the report on the evidence supporting the actions, so are all 30 actions a priority and how will they be implemented?

Secondly, the 30 new actions are on top of APCO’s business as usual, so is APCO resourced to adequately and effectively fulfill and manage these additional actions?

The report ultimately shows an underperformance so far towards the 2025 targets. In response the report identifies gaps and interventions that can be taken. The issue then comes in the complexity of APCO simultaneously coordinating and completing its current activities, as well as fulfilling the 30 identified actions in the report, in the three years left until the target date.

In terms of the Collection Action Framework, it could do with revamping to ensure that it is still applicable and being utilised effectively.

The report used the Framework as a performance lens to evaluate progress against the targets, but it could really do with an evaluation to ensure that all parties are continuing to fulfill their obligations and requirements under the Australian Packaging Covenant more broadly.

 

Vote #1 Environment, Transport

​Transport emissions are increasing in Australia and produce almost 20% of Australia’s total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, 60% of that  is from cars alone. Consequently, rapid growth of alternatives including electric vehicles (EV) is an environmental policy area of interest this election. As fuel prices and momentum on climate change rise, pressure is building for governments to provide incentives and policies to ease the switch from traditional fuel engines to cleaner vehicles.

Current policy proposals from each party offer different strategies and pathways / offer different avenues for such a transition.

The current Coalition Government announced $250 million to be invested in electric vehicles,  mainly to support EV charging infrastructure. Building infrastructure alone delivers no tax or other financial support for Australians to make the switch.In July 2021 the government also invested $260 million to increase its diesel reserves, notably more than the investment in EV.

Labor  has announced plans to introduce an Electric Car Discount to come in effect in July 2022. A major component of the discount is to exempt many electric cars from import tariffs (5% tax on some imported EV cars) and fringe benefits (a 47% tax on EV that are provided through work for private use). These exemptions will only be for cars below the luxury car threshold ($77,565, as of 2021), aiming to encourage car manufacturers to supply more affordable EV models to Australia. These incentives will cost the government around $200 million over three years, it’s unclear what percentage of this will go to infrastructure or to discounts.

The Greens launched a “Spark the EV Revolution” campaign, a plan to institute a range of incentives and subsidies to make electric vehicles affordable to everyone. The Greens plan to remove stamp and registration duty on all new EVs, remove import tariffs and waive registration fees for the first three years of ownership. To pay for these purchase incentives, the party plans to implement a 17% luxury fossil fuel car tax on the value of all fossil fuel light vehicles over $65K for the next four  years. They have also pledged to spend $151 million on fast charging infrastructure.

Leaders in EV technology have started to announce phase out dates for new sales of fossil fuel cars, including Norway (2025), The Netherlands (2030), India (2030) and the UK (2040). The Netherlands has had the most take up to date, with EV currently making up more than one in four vehicles on the road. A stronger commitment like this from Australia would see manufacturers prioritizing the delivery of newer, cheaper models to Australian markets. Accessibility is a key element, otherwise EV technology will remain a luxury commodity and represent inequality rather than the way to our renewable future.

A dead CERT for greenhouse transparency and accountability

The Clean Energy Regulator (CER) has released new guidelines enabling large greenhouse gas emitting companies to get value from being accountable and transparent.

The Corporate Emissions Reduction Transparency (CERT) program, known as CERT, is for large companies and emitters  to disclose their progress towards meeting their renewable and emissions targets. The CERT will promote company commitments and practices, and be consistent with market developments concerning good Environmental, Social and Government (ESG) practice.

Recent research in a KPMG report, “ Looking Ahead ESG 2030 Predictions” highlighted the ESG movement and momentum. The report outlined that 65% of international dealmakers believe ESG is a key consideration when making investments and in mergers and acquisition decisions, a clear indicator of the universal impacts of good ESG practice and potential of the CERT pilot scheme.

In this phase of the CERT, companies that comply  through National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting can disclose targets and progress in;

> Switching to renewable energy
>Reducing operational greenhouse gas emissions
>Their use of carbon units such as ACCUs, various international carbon units and use of large-scale generation certificate

The pilot phase application period is open from now until January 30, 2022. The CER predicts that future versions of the CERT may allow for non NGER reporters to be involved with the scheme, and may evolve into an important tool to compare business involvement in the voluntary carbon market. For now, companies that participate in the CERT report will be viewed as leading the way in providing a clear picture of actions and performance  to reduce their emissions.

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

2050 Modelling Shifts Net Zero Leadership to Industry

The Australian Government commitment to net zero emissions by 2050 could well be the embodiment of former Indian Mahatma Ghandi’s famous quote: “There go my people, I must hurry to catch up with them for I am their leader”.

The market has spoken. Business and the community is already moving ahead of Government on greenhouse emissions. Equilibrium has been fortunate to see this first hand as for a number of years it has worked with progressive companies on reducing emissions – and this activity has accelerated over the last 24 months independent of Government.

The Australian Government has now released “Australia’s Long Term Emissions Reduction Plan”. The plan provides a summary of the modelling and analysis which underpins the emissions target of net zero by 2050.

The modelling focuses on industry and businesses taking a voluntary approach to achieve net zero by 2050, without outlining constraints or incentives. This shift to net zero is to be pushed by “investor expectations” and “consumer preferences”. Fortunately, Australian businesses are well advanced in assessing their carbon outputs and are already working towards contributing to the target.

For example, Equilibrium was engaged by a major food manufacture in 2019-2020 to identify their carbon outputs and a carbon reduction plan. The company is now well advanced on a carbon management program that is aligned to its overall business objectives.

The process involved identifying scope 1 emissions (direct emissions eg. production, manufacturing and transport emissions), scope 2 (indirect emissions, emissions that may be generated at another facility) and scope 3 emissions (indirect emissions, employee travel to work/ transport and disposal of waste). The company set a target to achieve net zero emissions in operations and net-zero climate impact across the value chain by 2040, as well as 2025 interim goals to reduce energy, water and waste.

Equilibrium assists businesses with a wide range of services from carbon accounting to Climate Active accreditation. Please get in touch to develop realistic and measurable approaches to reduce your carbon outputs.

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.

Toy Industry to collaborate and develop sustainability solutions

The Australian Toy Association (ATA) has been supported with a through the Circular Economy Business Innovation Centre (CEBIC) delivered by Sustainability Victoria. This is a world first for the toy industry and another example of an industry taking responsibility for its products.

In collaboration with leading toy industry brands and retailers, the funding enables the ATA to develop and investigate circular economy options for toys. The project’s first stage will develop a material flows analysis, building an understanding of the movement of toys through the economy. The results of the analysis will link into the overarching project to develop solutions that will reduce the environmental impact of toys. 

Equilibrium congratulates ATA for their leadership and vision and is excited to partner with them on this project in developing circular economy options for toys.