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Tag Archives: Waste

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.

Governments Move on Waste Exports

The Council of Australian Governments (COAG) held its 48th general meeting in Sydney on 13 MARCH 2020. The discussion focussed on several key issues of national significance including a ban on the export of waste plastic, paper, glass and tyres.

The Communiqué released from the COAG meeting noted that:

“Leaders agreed to introduce a ban on the export of waste plastic, paper, glass and tyres, fulfilling the commitment they made in August 2019. The ban will be phased in, commencing from 1 July 2020. Leaders also agreed a national response strategy to drive implementation of the ban and help reduce the amount of waste ending up in landfill. In line with the response strategy, governments will expand on work with industry to invest in growing the Australian recycling industry and build markets for recycled products.”

Improving our waste and recycling performance is now being addressed on a national basis and with a higher degree of cooperation and coordination than previously experienced.

In particular, the Federal Government is taking a strong leadership role with commitments to review the used packaging NEPM while also investigating regulatory options and the possibility of co-regulatory or mandatory product stewardship schemes for tyres, solar panels and batteries.

Also positive, is a stronger position  by all Governments to support procurement measures that can underpin recycling and recycled content  in construction, manufacturing and infrastructure projects.

The COAG outcome is certainly trending in the right direction and represents noteworthy cooperation across Governments. It also signals a new level of accountability and transparency in policy setting, program delivery and measurable outcomes.

Effective execution and implementation of the COAG response strategy will be essential, as will timely deliver of programs and investment.

A copy of the response strategy can be downloaded here:

Phasing out exports of waste plastic, paper, glass and tyres: Response strategy to implement the August 2019 agreement of the Council of Australian Governments

Do you have queries about the COAG response strategy?

If you have any questions about the COAG outcomes, please contact the Nick Harford at Equilibrium on 0419 993 234

 

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

 

 

New Federal Inquiry: Rethinking Waste in Australia

Waste management and recycling continues to be a focus at the highest level of Government in Australia with an industry inquiry now underway. The focus is a positive one looking at solutions, economic opportunities, jobs and regional development. Responsible prosperity seems to be an implicit theme.

The need to examine improved performance and optimal resource recovery within a circular economy context is also likely to feature. Importantly, this is an industry inquiry, not an environmental one. It is a broad-based national investigation and one which can shine a light on how the industry can operate better, more efficiently and be more innovative.

The House Standing Committee on Industry, Innovation, Science and Resources launched an inquiry into Australia’s Waste Management and Recycling Industries. On Wednesday 23 October 2019 the Committee adopted an inquiry referred by the Minister for Industry, Science and Technology, the Hon Karen Andrews MP, asking the Committee to inquire into and report on innovative solutions in Australia’s waste management and recycling industries.

Information about the inquiry can be found here.

The Chair of the Committee, Hon Barnaby Joyce MP, said ‘the inquiry will examine different processes within Australia, and between Australia and best practice in the world. The Committee will investigate innovative ways to reduce the millions of tonnes of waste discarded in landfill and waterways in Australia each year.’

‘Improving waste management and recycling in Australia not only provides for a cleaner and more sustainable environment, but it also presents a range of economic opportunities. New jobs and industries will be created – particularly in our regions – along with new products and services’, Mr Joyce said.

The Committee will consider opportunities to better manage industrial, commercial and domestic waste, as well as any current impediments to innovation in these sectors. Strategies to reduce waste in waterways and oceans will also be examined.

In some ways the Committee may revisit elements of the Productivity Commission’s 2006 inquiry which examined the way Australia manages its waste and products over their life-cycle.

In 2006 the Productivity Commission found that a lack of evidence-based policy development from States and the self-interest of the industry itself was problematic for efficiently achieving good industry and environmental outcomes. The PC’s overarching theme remains valid – that the issues and barriers are not always best managed by environmental policy and that the underlying opportunities are really business / commercial / industrial ones.

What has changed over the last 13 years?

Increasingly the question of how to best manage waste in Australia is transcending conventional environmental policy and programs with a distinct move towards great business and commercial innovation.

Given that this inquiry has been referred by the Minister for Industry, Science and Technology highlights the need to bring a stronger commercial and applied industry lens to how we identify opportunities and successfully transform them into sustainable innovations, products and services.

Terms of Reference

The Committee will inquire into and report on innovative solutions in Australia’s waste management and recycling industries, including:

> Industrial, commercial and domestic waste;

> Waste in waterways and oceans;

> Landfill reduction; and

> Other related matters.

The Committee is to focus on opportunities presented by waste materials, including energy production, innovative recycling approaches and export opportunities, and to also consider current impediments to innovation.

Equilibrium will be assisting its clients in the preparation of submissions to this important inquiry. It provides an unmatched opportunity to place greater emphasis on solutions and environmentally oriented innovations in waste management that are truly forward thinking.

If you have any questions about the inquiry and how your organisation can benefit from making a submission, please contact the team at Equilibrium:

Nick Harford on 0419 993 234 or nick@equil.com.au
Damien Wigley on 0404 899 961 or damien@equil.com.au
John Gertsakis on 0409 422 089 or john@equil.com.au

The deadline for submissions to the inquiry is Friday 31 January 2020

New waste-related regulations for Queensland

How your business can identify early opportunities to improve environmental performance and prepare accordingly.

The schedule of waste-related Environmentally Relevant Activities (ERAs) has remained largely unchanged since they were introduced on 1990s. Since this time there have been significant changes in waste management practices, the emergence of new waste technologies and improvements in risk-based waste classification that were not considered when the current waste-related ERAs were developed.

This short blog discusses the new regulations, identifies potential impacts on Queensland businesses and provides solutions for assistance with meeting new requirements.

In short, the Environmental Protection (Waste ERA Framework) Amendment Regulation (2018) now allows the overall risk of waste management activities to be more accurately assessed, determined by the classification of waste and the type and scale of the process being undertaken, so that an appropriate level of regulation can be applied by the Department of Environment and Science (DES).

With the newly released Waste ERA Framework now in effect, Queensland based companies operating in the recovery, transport, storage (including west transfer stations), processing, treatment (including incineration and thermal treatment), recycling and disposal of waste and recyclable materials may be impacted as a result of the introduction of new waste classification categories, threshold changes and the application of risk-based regulation for waste management and other environmentally relevant activities.

It is anticipated that the new Regulations will largely involve an overall increase in cost to process and manage waste streams in Queensland, which will ultimately impact the waste and recycling industry through increased compliance costs.

Businesses can expect that environmental licences and permit costs (applications and annual fees) will change, and in many cases increase. It is also anticipated that activities currently not requiring an Environmental Authority may need to apply based on potential threshold changes.

Are you a target industry or facility?

The new waste-related ERA framework provides improved regulation and clear regulatory support for new and emerging technologies. If you are operating a business that processes organic materials, operates a waste disposal facility or transfer station (including tyre storage) the regulation changes could impact on your existing Environmental Authorities (EA) over the next 12 months as well as potentially require you to apply for a new EA in line with the changes to ERAs and other threshold limits.

If you operate a metal recovery, crushing, milling or screening, battery recycling, regulated waste transport, storage, reprocessing, treatment of waste tyre recycling facility then from 1 July 2019 there may be changes to relating to your EA to operate.

If you need to transition to the new ERA thresholds or make an amendment application to your existing EA, then in most instances this will need to be completed by 15 November 2019. If you need to apply for authorisation to conduct an activity under a new EA then the deadline is 12 months from 23 November 2018. The date when the new regulation came into effect.

With new classifications now applicable to regulated waste, your site activities may now be classified as a higher risk, impacting on not only your operations but also the annual fees payable to the Department of Environment and Science (DES).

If you are looking to apply a new ERA for your site, if it is prescribed (concurrence) ERA then there may be a requirement to apply for a development permit where there is a material change of use under the Planning Act 2016 and Planning Regulation 2017.

It is through these changes and the introduction of a landfill levy, commencing 1 July 2019, that the Queensland Government is providing the resource recovery and waste sector with the policy certainty that has been lacking within the state, leading to significant under-investment in new and expanded resource recovery infrastructure in Queensland and inhibiting the transformation and growth of Queensland’s recycling and waste management industry.

The benefits of improved environmental performance

The Regulation provides for a reduction in annual fees payable by demonstrating good environmental performance and where there has been no compliance action taken against your business by DES in the previous three years.

If you ascertain that your environmental emissions score is lower than that used to assign the risk to your business, you are a partner of the ecoBiz program or have an accredited Environmental Management System you could also be eligible for a discount of between 10% and 50% of your annual fee.

There may also be transitional exemptions for existing recycling and recovery facilities or discounts for new or existing recycling facilities which contribute to making Queensland self-sufficient in waste processing.

Conclusion

Being on top of your regulatory and compliance requirements is a prudent and commercially astute approach. The community expects it, and customers increasingly demand it. Being prepared is the key, and it is as a strategy that can minimise risk and maximise corporate responsibility, while also achieving annual fee reductions and improved product and process outputs.

The right activities and preparation can greatly reduce the amount payable to not only conduct an ERA but also to dispose of certain waste residual from recycling activities.

Don’t hesitate to make contact if you have specific queries or issues associated with the Environmental Protection (Waste ERA Framework) Amendment Regulation.

This article was authored by Madelaine Waters and Damien Wigley.

More information

For more information contact Damien Wigley at damien@equil.com.au or mobile 0404 899 961

China National Sword and its impact in Australia

The noise around China’s National Sword Policy has been significant and a trigger for diverse responses, some of which are measurable and forward-thinking, while others are more symbolic and reactive.

A key question is whether or not Australia has adjusted its recycling habits?

The China National Sword Policy formulated in September 2017, and announced by the Chinese Government to the world in January 2018, was centered on enforcing a new policy by banning 24 types of wastes and recyclables from entering the country.

Designed to improve its own environmental performance, the decision has changed globally how countries manage and process their recyclables. Twelve months along what has that decision meant to Australia and what really has changed in how we are processing and managing our recyclables?

Over a year on, Rick Ralph unbundles the facts around this complex policy decision with Nick Harford, managing director of Equilibrium and one of Australia’s leading experts on the subject.

Listen to the podcast of this conversation for an informed suite of insights and observations.

Download or listen here

 

Waste-to-Energy: Is there a missing piece?

In the transition to a low-carbon economy, there is a constant search for energy that is not produced from fossil fuels. Australia’s renewable sector contributes roughly 17% of total electricity generation, 9.7% of which is produced by bioenergy. Biofuels also represents around 1% of Australia’s petrol and diesel production.

It is well recognised that biofuels will play an extremely important part in any low carbon, low emission plan for Australia’s future and there have been some noteworthy initiatives to promote and support this, including the Queensland biofuel mandate, the Energy Grants Scheme, Queensland’s Resource Recovery Industry Development Program, and Victoria’s Advanced Organics Processing Technology Grants program.

While the bioenergy and waste-to-energy sector within Australia is transitioning rapidly towards providing a solution to materials that have not historically been recycled, it’s starting to reveal significant gaps in Commonwealth legislation and policies, particularly with respect to defining waste-to-energy streams and how biodiesel is dealt with under the Excise Tariff Act 1921.

Under The Schedule, diesel produced from non-renewable resources has a current excise rate of a little over $0.40 per litre, while biodiesel has a rate of duty of only 10% of this amount. Biodiesel is defined as a fuel that is, in simple terms, derived from animal or vegetable fats or oils. However, many diesel fuels manufactured from other resources, including those defined as waste materials, fall outside of this definition.

The Australian Taxation Office’s Excise Guidelines recognise that recent technological developments have seen hydrocarbon fuels manufactured from various sources other than just crude or waste oil. The Guidelines go so far as to accept that “Technology now exists that allows fuel to be manufactured from feed-stocks such as waste plastic, used tyres and general household waste.”

While acknowledging that renewable diesel can be sourced not only from the hydrogenation of animal fats or vegetable oils, anything that is produced from materials outside of the original definition is still termed diesel and the full rate of duty is payable, irrespective if it has been derived from other feedstocks as outlined above.

Although it is recognised that the duty payable on biodiesel and renewable diesel was offset briefly through the Energy Grants (Cleaner Fuels) Scheme, which closed in July 2015, for companies now looking to invest in new waste-to-energy technologies and facilities, there is currently little to no regulatory framework to support them to produce renewable diesel fuel.

This ambiguity could be seen to be constraining Australia’s sustainable energy future with the current legislation reducing the ability to grow this sector, and as such inhibiting the ability for the industry to reach the economies of scale required to deliver cheaper low carbon fuels, and in particular those derived from waste materials that may not be recyclable.

Based on estimates from the Clean Energy Council and the Clean Energy Finance Corporation there is a potential investment opportunity of between $3.5 billion and $5 billion until 2020 in energy from urban waste, agricultural waste and forest residues. Waste-to-energy provides an innovative and multifaceted solution. Not only does it alleviate the environmental pressure on landfills, it also reduces fossil fuel consumption and carbon emissions.

The Queensland Biofutures 10 Year Roadmap and Action Plan recognises the need to improve the excise rate of biofuels. Biofutures broadly refers to the sector focusing on “the development and manufacturing of products from sustainable organic and/or waste resources.” It is defined as a priority industry for Queensland, predicted to contribute $1.8 billion to the annual Gross State Product and support 6,640 full-time jobs in the state. The roadmap acknowledges the limited funding and poor excise and taxation treatment especially compared to successful global biotechnology sectors where there are strong subsidies.

It is clear that Australia is faced with regulatory framework which has not matched the accelerated pace of development in the combined energy and waste sector. Redefining the legislation to reconsider the definition of biodiesel to include waste as a resource and other alternative manufacturing processes for biodiesel production will assist in ensuring waste-to-energy technologies are given the necessary relief to ensure a sustainable future for renewable fuels.

This article was authored by Madelaine Waters, Environmental Consultant at Equilibrium.

Commonwealth Games’ Legacy for Queensland

It’s coming up to 12 months since the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games were delivered and many of the positive outcomes are still felt throughout the city.

Three core sustainability themes identified for GC2018 were to source responsibly, manage impacts and inspire inclusion.

Significant tangible benefits were delivered in regard to infrastructure improvements, world class venues, and an efficient public transport system. Moreover, many long lasting intangible benefits to the Gold Coast’s culture have come directly from the wide-reaching sustainability initiatives of the Games and are a crucial legacy associated with the event.

Building peaceful, prosperous and sustainable communities  

Many key environmental outcomes aiming to ‘manage impacts’ inspired positive sustainable behaviours. The Commonwealth Games Corporation’s (GOLDOC) initiative to reduce single use, short term plastic items, resulted in no helium balloons, no lightweight plastic bags and no plastic straws provided at any of the Games venues. The ChooseTap campaign saw 14 permanent hydration stations installed across the city, saving approximately 1,780,497 plastic bottles from being consumed. These outcomes are noteworthy.

Highlight trade and investment opportunities in Australia

A key aspect of this initiative and the ‘source responsibly’ theme was sustainable procurement. After an initial hot-spot analysis, GOLDOC developed a Sustainable Sourcing Code to ensure all suppliers met minimum requirements in terms of social and environmental impacts. For stand-alone high-risk procurements, a Sustainability Category Management Plan was completed, further highlighting the commitment to sustainable procurement and also providing a knowledge transfer legacy.

Local and indigenous procurement options were chosen where possible, with 75% of supply agreements from the Gold Coast and over 95% from Australia and New Zealand. Figures for Indigenous supplier contracts by value exceeded 166% of the initial target rate, with 168 contracts. This commitment to local and indigenous suppliers greatly supported positive legacies for the region.

Increased sense of inclusion, diversity and community pride in Queensland communities

The third sustainable theme to ‘inspire inclusion’ truly helped to transform the culture of the Gold Coast. GC2018 was the first of its kind to have a Reconciliation Plan and the commitment to celebrating indigenous heritage was clear from the launch of the Queen’s Baton at Buckingham Palace, where the Queen was accompanied by Yugambeh Elders Ted Williams and Patricia O’Connor. The same elders accompanied Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cambridge to the stage in the Opening Ceremony.  In fact, the opening ceremony was full of traditional theatre, dance, music and visual arts. The celebrations throughout the Games included numerous indigenous flavours showcased on the menu in the Village Main Dining Hall, indigenous art patterns on the Borobi Mascot design and the Parade of Nations track.

The Festival 2018 Gold Coast program included a diversity of cultures, with fifty countries and all Commonwealth regions represented through music, performance and film. Gender equality was also a priority within the Festival and Games. GC2018 was the first Games in history with an equal number of medal events for women and men. GOLDOC participated in the Pride in Sport Index (PSI) in 2016 and 2017 to assess and inform their inclusivity of the LGBTIQ Community.

Celebrations during GC2018 included the Festival’s Sparkle in the Sand which highlighted the Commonwealth countries where homosexuality is still a crime and Pride House, a welcoming space for LGBTI athletes, fans, visitors and allies. It housed LGBTI entertainment and exhibitions, and received over 5,000 visitors.

Inclusion and accessibility of events included the installation of ramps and hoists within existing and temporary venues. The Sports Ears system was provided at the opening and closing ceremonies and at all venues with sports presentation commentary. Moreover, every venue had a space for Service Dogs and Spectator Services volunteers were appropriately trained.

Demonstrate a leading model for sustainable event delivery on the Gold Coast

These initiatives are but a sample of the extensive work done by GOLDOC and the Sustainability Team to integrate social and environmental efforts into all aspects of the GC2018 games. The work of the team cultivated a strong focus on “inspiring positive, meaningful change in perceptions, attitudes and actions.” These intangible benefits have left a lasting legacy for tourism events in Queensland and truly demonstrate a leading model for sustainable event delivery on the Gold Coast and beyond.

Sustainability Report (Post Games), GOLDOC 2018: https://gc2018.com/sites/default/files/2018-08/Sustainability%20Report%20-%20Post%20Games%20(Final).pdf

Equilibrium, in partnership with Tasman Environmental Services, completed a Carbon Assessment and Management Plan for the Games. More details on this can be found in our previous blog post https://equil.com.au/2018/05/01/gc2018-low-carbon-competition/

This article was authored by Madelaine Waters, Environmental Consultant at Equilibrium.

February 2019

3D or not 3D

No panacea for plastics recycling

3D printing is in ascendancy, disruption is in vogue and innovators are in constant search of new applications.

These are exciting times for additive manufacturing with endless opportunities, some of them environmentally driven, some of them deeply practical.

As with many new and emerging technologies however, claims by some advocates that it has all-conquering potential is illusory. This seems especially so with current claims that 3D printing is potentially a panacea for problematic waste plastic.

The technology is of course impressive and is already achieving noteworthy outcomes in some product classes. The capabilities and increasingly attractive cost and access trajectory are exponentially expanding its use, but its practical outputs are yet to match the enthusiastic media commentary.

We’re not expert in 3D printing or additive manufacturing but have been working with several experts for a few years now. We’ve been delving into 3D materials efficiency, life-cycle management and end-of-life material evaluation. Our investigations have also extended into the potential application of Product Stewardship for both the printers and the fabricating materials.

Plastic polymers are but one 3D fabricating material, but it is a common and frequently used medium. So when it comes to increasing use of 3D printing it is also leading to increasing consumption of fabricating polymers.

When it comes to using recovered waste plastic and recycling it for use in 3D printing, there are current and emerging options. The plastic by-product of some printing is itself highly recoverable and recyclable. Relatively low-cost solutions exist to take left over plastic 3D filament, 3D printing waste and other waste plastics and create a useable 3D filament.

Recent media also shows impressive results for taking problem plastic waste and converting it into a form that can be used in 3D printing.

The issue worth checking though is not that recovered and recycled plastic can be used in 3D printing, but more so what is the recovery method and extent of volume.

Before focusing on the end-of-pipe, just a pause to note that 3D printing has an inherently positive sustainability profile.

It is in essence a short-cut to manufacturing, on whatever scale. Its environmental, economic and social profile offers reduced need for multiple prototyping, reduced transport by enabling on-site fabrication, highly specialised parts manufacturing and potential multiplier effects such as facilitating longer and increased up time for heavy plant and equipment.

Having said that, it is generally still high-end equipment needing expert handling. Many of the ‘entry-level’ or consumer retail 3D units demonstrate poor performance and reliability, and are destined for near-term hard-waste collection.

Anecdotal reports from suppliers include the view that many new users find the set-up and calibration challenging, that there is a very high failure rate of printing and that many prints are sub-standard thereby useless. Rather than fast proto-typing, this can be fast waste creation in the name of DIY.

On the upside of this phenomena, 3D polymer printers use relatively little material. Especially when design and software is properly applied as they are highly efficient in optimising material for production.

And that’s the rub. At the end of the current day when it comes to the use of plastic polymer in 3D printing in Australia there is very little material consumed – whether it is virgin raw material or a recycled equivalent. On our estimates from discussions with importers and suppliers as well as our desk-top research, it is at present and at best in the high hundreds to low thousands of tonnes per year.

Now that’s still a lot of plastic in one respect. Improved end-of-life management of waste plastic and replacement of virgin with recycled is to be encouraged. In the current global market all avenues warrant attention, but as an end-market for plastic recycling it is a very small and highly constrained destination.

As present it is reported to us that recycled content 3D filament suffers that all too frequently experienced fate: that recycled alternatives do not provide sufficient price incentive to overcome ease of access to virgin product and concerns with quality. This is a challenge that confronts many secondary materials.

That 3D printing is growing means the sustainability lens should be on its entire life-cycle. That includes material use in making printers, application of the technology, product design, energy consumption, materials choice, materials efficiency and end-of-life materials management. Tools, materials and methods that contribute to achieving a circular economy should be supported and explored but not at the cost of robust environmental evaluation.

It is a great technology that can deliver better economic and environmental outcomes. However, on current evidence it is apparent that recycling plastics for use as 3D fabricating materials is a niche and not a panacea for waste plastics.

Ultimately, high performance, low impacts and measurable benefit will determine whether 3D printing contributes to sustainable production and consumption in a real-world context.

This article was authored by Nicholas Harford, Managing Director of Equilibrium.

17 April 2018

That’s Rubbish – Why Your Business Should Be Considering an EMS

Every organisation will have an impact on the environment. However you might be surprised to learn the extent of the environmental impact that your day-to-day operations are having. The costs to the environment and your bottom line are greater than you think.

Consider a small office-based organisation. Large amounts of paper may be printed from energy-hungry printers that do not have their default set to double-sided print. Lights and temperature control may be left on when not needed and staff air travel contributes not just to frequent flyer points, but also to global greenhouse emissions.

Fortunately there are ways to reduce the environmental footprint of your business that go beyond simply changing to eco-friendly light bulbs. An Environmental Management System (EMS) is a long-term structured solution that can help your business manage its environmental impact while increasing business efficiency.

What is an Environmental Management System Exactly?

Just about every astute business will have an integrated financial management system in place that will help to monitor the financial performance of the company. Similarly, an EMS is a structured framework that monitors the environmental performance of a company and integrates environmental compliance into the daily operations of your business.

An EMS is a powerful tool for your business to simultaneously increase business efficiency while improving its environmental performance.

How can my business benefit by implementing an EMS?

Rather than being a passive bystander, an effective EMS will prompt your business to actively examine its practices. Reviewing your operations and activities to identify the environmental impact of your business may reveal that certain processes and equipment are chewing up more power or contributing more waste than you can afford.

An EMS will then guide you through the process of developing targets, responsibilities, priorities and actions that help to manage environmental impact in a way that is unique to your organisation.

Some of the benefits you can come to expect with a properly integrated EMS include:

> Maximising the efficient use of company resources;
> Reducing waste;
> Saving on utilities such as electricity and water;
> Creating environmentally sustainable company policies in purchasing and transport;
> Demonstrating a good corporate image while growing your customer base;
> Building staff engagement and awareness in environmental issues;
> Gaining a better understanding of the environmental impact of business activities;
> Ensuring compliance with environmental regulations and minimising environmental liabilities.

What Next?

Equilibrium has worked with a large range of organisations of varying types and sizes to assess their need for an EMS and the likely costs and benefits. From logistics to offices, from telecommunications to retailers, Equilibrium has experience and insights that can efficiently and effectively indicate the benefits an EMS can deliver.

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