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Net zero targets important for food and beverage industry

Net zero

As the food and beverage industry moves towards a more sustainable future, new regulations around net zero emissions are coming into effect and companies like Energy Action are helping the industry achieve this goal.

The world of energy and emission reduction is vast and complex, but Energy Action, an energy procurement and energy management business that aims to make its clients’ energy simpler, cleaner, and cost less – has spent years compiling energy data and using it to reduce its client’s costs and emissions.

Energy Action interim-CEO Bruce Macfarlane believes the real drive towards a net zero target must start in the boardrooms first.

“It’s businesses that will lead us to net zero. Federal Government regulation would be ideal because it would make for a level playing field, but it’s unlikely. Instead, it’s up to smart businesses to use net zero as an opportunity to lower their energy costs and their emissions,” he said.

“The response from investors and customers are the strongest driver as society puts more emphasis on sustainable manufacturing and ways of doing business”.

A recent survey conducted by Energy Action and filled out by Australian businesses showed that 88 per cent of respondents agreed that action on net zero was needed, with 77 per cent saying it was urgent.

However, in terms of setting net zero goals, 82 per cent of respondents said none had been set in their organisation and 36 per cent said it was yet to be an organisational priority.

Macfarlane believes the reason for the lack of net zero goals is because company management see it as a low priority, as opposed to there being a cost barrier, which means the opportunity to save money on manufacturing and production should be a key driver.

According to Macfarlane, “Companies not setting net zero targets are missing out on immediate paybacks – such as lowering their usage and spend through energy efficiency steps and accessing rebates on solar”.

“We also know that not all organisations are ready to switch to 100 renewable energies in one go and want to take a stepped approach that can be easily budgeted towards”.

Energy Action’s Net Zero related products include Green Power, Renewable Energy Certificates, Short-term renewable energy Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) and Behind the Meter Solar.

Green power goes through a reverse auction, a platform Energy Action is well known for, drives down the prices and delivers energy costs savings.

Essentially, a first bid is made by an energy price retailer indicating the price it is willing to accept. From there, a series of bids are made in the reverse to a regular auction, with the cost getting lesser with each bid until the winning bid is the lowest.

Short-term renewable energy PPAs allow businesses to quickly purchase renewable energy (along with energy sourced from non-renewable sources if desired) over a short-fixed term period, which locks in an agreed price and reduces exposure to price increases.

While Behind the Meter Solar effectively puts your company’s roof up for tender and creates competition amongst trusted suppliers looking to win your contract to install solar.

Energy Action formulated a detailed five-step plan which was finalised by the Board in 2020 after requesting, and then overseeing, the execution of the multi-step Net Zero plan.

The five key steps are designed to help companies more accurately and realistically offset emissions and move towards more sustainable methods of production.

The first step, measuring, is centred on simplifying data collection and energy consumption monitoring to identify key areas where reduction is needed first.

Some of the steps in the plan are reinforced by services and programs created and provided by Energy Action, including Energy Management services for measuring, an Energy Buying Service for procurement, and an Energy Buying Service for renewables.

Energy Action also provides a service to help with the final step of the plan, offsetting, with the Offsetting Service allowing companies to buy carbon credits to use against things like travel and waste emissions.

These steps can be applied across the food and beverage industry which is already moving towards sustainability targets set out by the Modern Manufacturing Strategy and the Modern Manufacturing Initiative, both of which have set timelines for sustainability targets to be met.

Creating a detailed plan moving forward is a critical step for companies looking to set realistic goals and meet not just industry, but consumer demands.

One of the key benefits to starting the Net Zero journey isn’t just about lowering emissions, although very important, but it is also about decreasing overhead costs and helping to boost public relations as consumer demands begin to shift. The commercial benefits also include an ability to attract new investors and clients, ultimately strengthening the business and creating greater value.

Energy Actions first-hand experience handling the challenges, but also reaping the benefits, of a Net Zero journey, is well placed to help the food and beverage industry meet the same targets, ultimately helping to future proof the industry.

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