#finance#environment#community

The Benefits of Environment Initiatives: Australian Companies Going Green

We Photo Booth You
|Sep 30|magazine15 min read

Australia’s government offers a fairly comprehensive plan for reducing the negative impact the country’s people and businesses have on the environment. The Department of the Environment has specific goals to maintain clean air, land and water to preserve the country’s national heritage.

 Included in these plans currently is a push towards renewable energy, with a look towards offshore wind energy and a shift from coal to gas. These plans however are at risk, as several sectors (specifically mining) have challenged the Renewable Energy Target. The scheme is currently under review, and if repealed, renewable energy projects and companies in Australia could go under.

That is no reason to forget your company’s plans or commitment to go green though. Green initiatives are part of what some are considering a global economic revolution towards improving sustainability and the environmentally-friendly nature of business.

Using clean energy and promoting energy efficiency in your own business is a competitive advantage too few companies are taking advantage of. Read on to find out how some Australian brands are implementing green initiatives and benefitting from the move to green.

Leighton Contractors: Energy management improvements

As a household name in construction including projects on roads, rail, ports, water storage and treatment facilities, airports and telecommunication infrastructure, Leighton Contractors is also in the running to become a household name in sustainability.

In 2013 the company shifted their energy management setup from that of a compliance program to one that is constantly pursuing efficiency outcomes within not only the business but also its supply chain. They created the Group Energy and Efficiency Management Program, which addresses aspects of energy management within the business, including a major upgrade to their energy reporting system.

Leighton Contractors has also implemented other tools, like a calculator for determining energy and emission footprints on sites, a comprehensive energy assessment tracking tool, and a MACC – marginal abatement cost curve.

At sites like the Laverton Plant Yard, Leighton has introduced efficiency improvements like solar and LED lighting upgrades. For the M80 Ring Road Upgrade Project, the company installed a 500-metre solar wall, which is expected to generate 54,000 kWh of energy a year. It’s the first time a large solar plant has been installed on a road project specifically to generate power.

Veolia Australia & New Zealand: Alternative food production

Veolia is a leading environment solutions provider across the waste management, water and energy services industries. As a company, Veolia is committed to delivering innovative and sustainable solutions, which includes developing cleaner, more efficient energy systems and encouraging a behavioural and ideological change in Australia’s attitudes towards water, waste and energy.

One of the reasons Veolia was a finalist in The Australian Business Awards Sustainability category this year is their groundbreaking solution to alternative food production. Currently at their Woodlawn facility, the company is undertaking a unique aquacultural trial.

The trial aims to take advantage of every opportunity of turning waste into a resource, utilising heat produced by power generators from the Woodlawn Eco-Precinct. The heat produced by the Bioreactor’s engines easily creates the perfect temperature for Barramundi’s habitat, making the fish the preferred choice to be farmed at the site. Currently, the facility can produce approximately 2.5 tonnes of Barramundi a year.

As far as sustainability goes, Veolia is not only providing an alternative solution to food manufactures, but the company is also influencing end-users to be more aware of how their food is sourced and produced.

Amcor: Innovative packaging for sustainability

Amcor is a multinational packaging leader that originally had its roots in Australia. Their three focuses for responsible environment management include greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions – spotlighting a 10 percent reduction by 2015-2016, and a 60 percent reduction by 2030; waste to landfill – including a 50 percent reduction in waste to landfill with a long term goal of zero waste sent to landfills; and water use – hoping to reach a 25 percent reduction in water use by 2015-2016 (for their Australasia business).

Their sustainability policy is all encompassing, covering the environment, community, workplace, marketplace and economy. The company vows to keep communication open with the community and workforce so that issues and concerns can be quickly addressed.

And because they are a packaging company, Amcor strives to continuously innovate their packaging to be lighter and include more recycled materials so that it has a smaller negative impact on the environment. They are always looking to optimise packaging size, promote resealable packaging to reduce food waste and promote more energy efficient methods of food preparation by engineering microwaveable packs.

Benefits of running a green business

The benefits from setting some environmentally-friendly plans in place are far-reaching. Perhaps the most attractive upside is saving on energy costs. Chemical manufacturer DuPont saved over $US3 billion over two decades just by reducing their carbon emissions. Switch to renewable energy sources or use compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs, and revel in the savings.

Being known as a green firm could potentially attract like-minded employees and consumers. Sustainability and environmentally-friendly concepts contribute in part to a revolution in the way global companies do business, and the trend has many supporters. Make your environmental initiatives part of your marketing campaigns – advertise the changes you are making on your website. You’ll no doubt garner support from the green community.

Employing these environmentally-friendly plans doesn’t have to be a selfless move – on top of the monetary and personnel benefits, there are also several awards and recognitions for companies that choose to do green business. The Australian Business Awards offer a specific award for sustainability, and Queensland’s Department of Environment and Heritage Protection offers several community, eco-efficiency and innovation awards.

Promoting the green concepts with your employees can have unexpected returns as well. Encouraging healthier diets and more exercise could lead to your workers taking less sick days. Don’t fill your vending machines with sugary snacks and drinks – see if there are more natural options.

Of course, leaving the planet better than we found it so future generations can enjoy it has a pretty big appeal as well.