Buyer beware: EHS due diligence is more important than ever

With every merger and acquisition (M&A) deal comes a range of potentially significant risks. You don’t want to unnecessarily pay more for an asset than it’s worth, and you certainly don’t want expensive surprises or obstacles once you’ve already signed on the bottom line. That’s why it’s essential to understand, as fully as possible, just what you’re getting into.

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Brewdog becomes carbon negative

Scottish craft brewer BrewDog has announced that it has taken the unprecedented step to become carbon negative, and that it will remove twice as much carbon from the air than it emits every single year. Making it the first carbon negative international beer brand in the world, as it sets out to fight climate change and have a positive impact on the planet.

The move is founded in its belief that carbon neutral is no longer enough, and that businesses should be having a positive impact on the planet. To this end, BrewDog is unveiling a climate action program with AUD $55m (£30m) of green investments across its business.

As part of these efforts, it has also purchased 2,050 acres of Scottish Highlands just north of Loch Lomond, to create the BrewDog Forest, and plans to plant one million trees over the next few years. Meanwhile, BrewDog Australia is introducing a host of green infrastructure projects and sustainability initiatives, including the introduction of solar-panels, a partnership Carbon Neutral’s Yarra Yarra Biodiversity Project to offset all excess C02 emissions, and the creation of a sustainable drive thru.

The news comes as BrewDog Australia launches its first Brisbane-brewed headliner beers.

Over the past few months BrewDog has been working closely with lead scientific advisor Professor Mike Berners-Lee and his team at Small World Consulting. Berners-Lee is one of the world’s leading experts in carbon foot-printing and sustainability and has led the process of calculating BrewDog’s carbon footprint and been pivotal in the design of its carbon removal plan. The partnership has helped to direct over AUD $55m (£30m) of investment into green infrastructure to support the business in reducing carbon emissions.

In order to double remove all of its carbon, until it is able to begin planting the BrewDog Forest, the brewer will be working with offset partners on a series of projects. Each organisation has the highest standard of accreditation and has been additionally vetted by Berners-Lee and his team with each project deemed beneficial to biodiversity and local communities.

“Our Carbon. Our Problem. So, we are going to fix it ourselves. Huge change is needed right now, and we want to be a catalyst for that change in our industry and beyond. We fully acknowledge that we are a long way from perfect. However, we are determined to rapidly and fundamentally change everything as we work hard to ensure we have a positive impact on the planet.” James Watt, co-founder of BrewDog commented,

Mike Berners Lee, Founder of Small World Consulting continued,

“After decades of inaction we have a full-on climate crisis on our hands. The scale and speed of the change we now need is enormous, and cuts right across politics, business and every corner of society. The good news is that if we are smart about our transition, we can make our lives better at the same time as making them more sustainable. With the actions laid out in this report, BrewDog is giving some of the leadership the world so badly needs. They are raising the bar for the business world, both in their strong carbon cutting action and their straight talking. BrewDog beer can represent another small nudge for a better world.”

BrewDog Australia will soon be adding solar-panels to supply a significant amount of the energy demand from the brewery, taproom and restaurant and is providing all spent grain to feed local cattle in Queensland. Excess CO2 emissions are offset through Carbon Neutral’s Yarra Yarra Biodiversity Corridor, a multi-species native reforestation project located in Southwest Australia which is a global biodiversity hotspot. This Australian Native Reforestation Gold Standard certified project aims to remove existing carbon and improve the environment by planting native species of trees and shrubs to recreate a healthy, functioning landscape, restored after decades of habitat loss and degradation.

BrewDog Australia is also looking to work with green partners, all of which have the highest standard of accreditation, and has plans to launch a sustainable drive thru that will act as beer collection points, hubs for electronic vehicle deliveries and hubs for closed loop, zero waste packaging such as growlers, mini-kegs and returnable bottles. Further details on this will be announced in due course.

A spokesperson for Carbon Neutral said:

“Carbon Neutral is delighted to be working with BrewDog as part of its carbon offset strategy. BrewDog has done more than address our very real climate crisis; it has also acknowledged the need to halt biodiversity loss by funding native reforestation in the Outback of Australia. BrewDog’s approach shows a true awareness of our impact on the planet – by reducing its GHG emissions and supporting the Yarra Yarra Biodiversity Corridor, BrewDog is helping to bring life back to barren landscape.”

One of BrewDog’s primary reasons for investing in local brewing and opening a site in Brisbane is to significantly reduce the miles the beer travelled to reach the consumer. Having unveiled its state-of-the-art Australian Brewery and Taproom in Queensland’s capital city late last year, BrewDog can now offer fans across the country the opportunity to enjoy freshly-brewed BrewDog beer – dispatched the next working day.

The headliner range includes the beer that started BrewDog’s craft beer revolution, Punk IPA, alongside Hazy Jane New England IPA, Elvis Juice Grapefruit Infused IPA, and a West Coast classic Pale Ale.

Since opening in Brisbane last November, BrewDog has been working hard to establish strong Aussie roots – pouring the best craft beer from across the Sunshine State including Range Brewing, Black Hops, Brouhaha, Aether and Sea Legs at the taproom and restaurant. Having debuted its first Australian exclusive 3.5 per cent Easy Pale Ale back in January, the team is keen to create more small batch brews and show their commitment to supporting other Queensland businesses and collaborating with local distilleries like Beenleigh Rum to create exclusive Queensland-made products.

BrewDog’s expansion into Australia has been supported by the Queensland Government through the Advance Queensland Industry Attraction Fund and Brisbane City Council through Brisbane Economic Development Agency. The brewery is creating a breadth of new jobs for Queensland’s craft brewing industry, with a team of 50 and around a dozen more jobs expected before the end of the year, helping to boost economic growth in Brisbane. The team are also committed to making the business as environmentally sustainable as possible to help support Queensland’s unique environment.

Brisbane Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner encouraged residents to get behind local producers, such as BrewDog.

“Brisbane is a clean, green city and council supports innovative businesses that take a proactive approach to environmental sustainability,” Cr Schrinner said.

“It is also great to see BrewDog beer being produced right here in our backyard for local and national distribution. This type of job-creating investment in key sectors such as food and beverage will help drive our city’s recovery and future growth as we climb out of the economic hole created by the global pandemic. It’s our civic duty; if we’re going to crack a brew on the weekend, make it local first.”

Compostable packaging and data management solutions feature at waste expo

Food industry professionals had a chance to share ideas on data management solutions and sustainable packaging at the Australasian Waste and Recycling Expo (AWRE).

The expo, held on the 29th and 30th of August, aimed to challenge thinking about current waste standards and the future of waste disposal and recovery.

Exhibitors included companies that work with the food and beverage industry, such as ifm Efector, Source Separation Systems and DB Packaging.

Joshua Riley, from Source Separation Systems, showcased the company’s composting products.

READ: App takes bite out of food waste

The Kitchen Caddy is a container that houses compostable household waste, which can then be disposed of in a compost system or suitable council bins. The company also made a range of liners derived from corn that wasn’t fit for human consumption, Riley said.

“All the liners are Australian Certified compostable,” he said.

The liners left no plastic bits in the soil, like some biodegradable products did, he said. The ink used on the liners is soy based and also not toxic to the environment.

Riley said it was difficult getting people to change the way they thought about waste.

“It’s not rocket science. It’s not hard, but the challenge we face is that people don’t like change. Once you get their mind changed, it’s easy,” said Riley.

Rachel Beaver, educator and trainer at DB Packaging, also said people needed to change their mindsets.

DB Packaging makes compostable plates and bowls, and compostable transparent bags.

Many people used cling wrap to showcase the contents of a product, but there were other materials available, said Beaver.

“We don’t need cling wrap. We need to get people to change their minds,” she said.

“We are starting to work with different bodies to change consumers’ perceptions. Everyone has to be involved,” said Beaver.

Companies behind making products such as compostable containers and machinery used to deal with waste were also at the expo.

Ifm senior sales engineer Jason Woo said ifm provided mobile controls for hydraulic systems used by companies to lift bins and used for crushers, for example.

“The target market would be the machine builders for rubbish trucks,” he said.

Ifm also has a range of sensors that help with data management.

With effective data management people can see in real-time when machines need maintenance or when they are working overtime.

“It also monitors consumption so consumers can see what they are using too much of,” said Woo.

Being able to monitor machines easily, could help businesses save energy and save on costs, he said.

Everything waste-related was covered at the expo to materials, machinery and data solutions. The expo was held at the International Convention Centre at Sydney’s Darling Harbour.

Sodexo Australia saves tonnes of food from going to waste

Sodexo Australia will divert tonnes of quality surplus food each year that might otherwise have gone to waste.

Sodexo will save more than 9920kg of surplus food, in a new partnership with online surplus food wholesale marketplace Yume.

Sodexo Australia chief financial officer and country president, Mark Chalmers, said the partnership would see products purchased through Yume used at Sodexo sites across Australia.

It forms part of Sodexo’s Better Tomorrow 2025 corporate responsibility roadmap.

READ: Perth hotel diverts food waste from landfill with BioBags

“Globally, Sodexo serves 100 million consumers every day, so we have tremendous capacity to reduce waste by improving how we deliver our services. We’re dedicated to finding new ways to minimise our collective waste and environmental impact and partnering with Yume is a great way to do this,” said Chalmers.

Recently, Sodexo Australia purchased more than 500kg of premium Australian feta cheese, more than five tonnes of crushed tomatoes and a range of poultry products.

To date, Sodexo has purchased 9920kg of food from Yume, equating to 684,480 litres of water saved and 20 tonnes of CO2 prevented.

The concept of Yume works off selling surplus stock of perfectly good food from quality HACCP accredited suppliers, including Unilever Foods Solutions and Mondelez, to prevent it from going to waste.

Yume founder Katy Barfield said the company was thrilled to partner with Sodexo.

“Australia sends a staggering 9.5 million tonnes of food to landfill each year and the Australian Government estimates that food waste is costing the economy $20 billion per year.”

To-date Yume has returned more than $1.5 million to Australian farmers and manufacturers and has diverted 300,000kg of product from going to waste.

Environmentally, this equates to 600 tonnes of CO2 prevented and over 20.7 million litres of water saved.

Nestlé pledges to use only certified sustainable palm oil within five years

Well known chocolate manufacturer Nestlé is committed to using certified sustainable palm oil in all its products by 2023.

On Monday, the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO ) reinstated Nestlé’s membership following its time-bound action plan to achieve 100 per cent RSPO certified sustainable palm oil.

RSPO and Nestlé’s vision is to transform the palm oil industry for a sustainable future.

In a bid to achieve this they believe the entire industry needs to be more transparent and inclusive.

Achieving this also requires direct supply chain engagement and capacity building throughout the supply chain.

Nestlé’s global head of responsible sourcing Benjamin Ware said transparency in Nestlé’s supply chain had always been a priority.

“Nestlé has always been committed to implementing responsible sourcing and has made significant progress towards our commitment to using fully responsibly sourced palm oil.

“Nestlé supports RSPO’s role in driving industry wide change and appreciates its decision following the submission of our action plan, which focuses on increasing traceability primarily through segregated RSPO palm oil.

“This builds on Nestlé’s ongoing activities to achieve a traceable and responsibly sourced palm oil supply chain.”

Nestlé would play a leading role within RSPO by participating in working groups and sharing its experiences in addressing some of the critical environmental and socio-economic challenges affecting the sector, said Ware.

“In line with the RSPO’s objectives, this work will focus on preventing deforestation, particularly the protection of peatland and high-carbon stock land, as well as respecting human rights across the value chain,” said Ware.

RSPO CEO Darrel Webber said when joining RSPO all members made a commitment to transform the palm oil industry.

“Nestlé has pledged to step up their efforts in working actively on solutions within the RSPO system, via active participation.

“It’s with this in mind that we are welcoming Nestlé back to the Roundtable, confident they will live up to our membership obligations and succeed in delivering on their time-bound plan. We trust that by working collectively we are able to realise a sustainable, respectful and responsible palm oil industry.”

Report into impact of China recycling ban released

The Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation (APCO) has released the Market Impact Assessment Report, a new study defining the impact of China’s National Sword policy.

Findings from the report reveal that the volume of Australian export of scrap paper and plastics has remained largely stable over the past 12 months, however their value has dropped significantly due to global oversupply.

Mixed paper scrap once valued at $124 per tonne (EXW) has dropped approximately 100% and is now close to worthless. Scrap mixed plastic has fallen 76%, from $325 per tonne to $75 per tonne and cardboard is now valued at $125 per tonne, falling 40% from $210 per tonne.

Brooke Donnelly, Chief Executive Officer of APCO commented: “What essentially lies at the heart of this issue is China’s decision to revise the contamination threshold for scrap paper and plastics. We need to develop the right domestic infrastructure to lower the contamination levels in our waste and start building viable end market solutions here in Australia to ensure a smaller, cleaner packaging waste stream”.

APCO is already developing a range of solutions to improve sustainable packaging design, reduce contamination and improve recycling rates.

 

Most recently, APCO launched the first nation-wide labelling program to help Australians better understand how to recycle packaging correctly and assist organisations in designing for recycling and working towards lowering contamination levels. Launched in conjunction with Planet Ark and PREP Design, the program has already been adopted by Australia Post, Blackmores, Nestlé, Officeworks, Unilever and Woolworths among others.

APCO has accelerated the delivery of the PREP design tool, an online evaluation portal that determines if a packaging format is recyclable or not in the current kerbside collection service. For the first time in Australia, organisations can develop their packaging to be recyclable where possible, driving waste avoidance outcomes at the design stage.

APCO is also currently reviewing its Sustainable Packaging Guidelines (SPGs) to help businesses reduce the environmental impact of their packaging and develop a standardised approach to key issues such as the use of recycled content in packaging.

“Transitioning to a circular economy is essential if we are to reduce the environmental impacts of packaging and this requires collaboration from brands, governments, the recycling and packaging industry and consumers alike. APCO is in a unique position to facilitate this collaboration and we look forward to working with all stakeholders to help Australia realise a circular economy,” said Donnely.

The Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation is a co-regulatory, not-for-profit organisation that partners with government and industry to reduce the harmful impact of packaging on the environment.

 

 

Woolworths to phase out plastic bags by June 20

Woolworths has announced its Supermarkets, BWS, Metro and Woolworths Petrol stores will no longer provide single-use plastic shopping bags nationally from 20 June 2018.

The confirmation of the date for the phasing out of bags from stores where a statewide ban hasn’t already been implemented follows the commitment by the Woolworths Group last year that it would end the use of single-use plastic shopping bags in all stores by the end of June 2018.

Group wide more than 3.2 billion single-use plastic bags are handed out by Woolworths in Australia each year.

Woolworths Group CEO Brad Banducci said; “We feel very strongly this is the right thing to do, and that together with our customers we can help create a greener future for Australia.

“Our teams have been working hard behind the scenes to accelerate the rollout of this plan so we can start making a positive impact on the environment as quickly as possible.

“We know this is a big change for our customers and store teams, and we need to do all we can to make the transition as seamless as possible for both.

“To this end, we have a dozen supermarkets across Australia going single-use plastic bag free from today. We’ll closely monitor feedback from customers in these stores and apply any lessons we learn to our national rollout on 20 June.”

The 12 Woolworths stores phasing out single-use plastic bags from today include stores in NSW, Victoria, Queensland and WA.

In NSW, Woolworths Beecroft opened single-use plastic bag free last year, joining stores in South Australia, Tasmania, Northern Territory and the ACT who no longer offer the bags for customers due to State legislation. Several Metro branded Woolworths stores in NSW and Victoria have also already implemented the ban.

Customers who don’t bring their own bags to Woolworths will have access to a range of alternative shopping bag options in store, including thicker reusable plastic bags at 15 cents and canvas bags at 99 cents.

AIP to discuss consumer & environmental trends in plastic

The Australian Institute of Packaging (AIP) in conjunction with the Society of Plastics Engineers (SPE) will hold a technical dinner, called Consumer & Environmental Trends in Plastic: Reuse. Recycle. in Melbourne on the 11th of April.

The AIP/SPE Joint Technical Dinner will involve a panel, with key topics and trends being discussed openly by the guest speakers, allowing interaction and questions to be drawn from the attendees.

The panel will discuss the current global discussion around plastics and the circular economy, oxo degradable plastic, the shift towards sustainable packaging, better understanding of current recycling issues and trends, moving away from single use plastics and how consumers can actually make an impact personally by buying recycled products.

Other areas for discussion will be how compostable bioplastics can assist in the diversion of organic waste from landfill and utilising compostable bioplastics for foodservice disposables.

Panelists will include Richard Fine MAIP, Founder, Product Development & Sustainability Director, BioPak, Kurt Palmer, Director-AIEN, Business Development Manager – Steinert Australia, Dr Sean O’Malley, Research & Technical Manager, Planet Ark and Mark Jacobsen, Director of Marketing, Repeat Plastics Australia.

All of industry is invited to attend.

Australia’s first Sustainable Seafood Week launched

International non-profit organisation, the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), this week launched Australia’s first ever Sustainable Seafood Week (March 12 – 18), supported by several big name brands such as IKEA, Coles and John West, to encourage Australians to opt for sustainably caught seafood for their meals.  

The week has been created by MSC to encourage Australian consumers and businesses to support keeping oceans ‘Forever Wild’ and teeming with life, while also ensuring future seafood supplies for generations to come.  

MSC has set the standard for fisheries across the globe with the world’s most recognised certification program for sustainable, wild caught seafood – the blue fish tick of approval. By sourcing seafood products that bear the MSC blue fish tick of approval, companies small and large can help keep our oceans teeming with life for future generations.

IKEA Australia Food Manager Ivana Frost said we are committed to offering delicious, healthy food at affordable prices for everyone, as well as providing food that is sustainably produced, with good animal welfare practices. 

“We are one of very few major retailers who sell seafood that is certified by Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) and the Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC). 

That means the seafood we sell in IKEA restaurants and through our Swedish Food Markets is 100% sustainably sourced, and sold to 600 million food customers globally,” said Ms Frost.

MSC’s Oceania Program Director, Anne Gabriel, said the ability to choose certified sustainable seafood in Australia has never been easier.  

“Around 75% of the population believe we should only be consuming sustainably sourced seafood, however, many Australians are unaware of how to identify these products,” said Mrs Gabriel.

“With the MSC blue fish tick, consumers, caterers, cafes and retailers can easily identify sustainably sourced products for purchase, empowering them to make the right decision to keep our marine life, forever wild.

Celebrity chef and MSC Ambassador, Scott Gooding, says Sustainable Seafood Week is a great way to encourage both consumers and those within the hospitality and food industry to incorporate sustainable seafood products into their everyday meals. 

“As a chef, I’m passionate about not only what’s served on a plate, but also how it got there. Food traceability is very important and to me, living healthily and eating well starts with knowing where our food comes from,” said Scott.  

“Sustainable Seafood Week is the perfect way to showcase to those within the food industry how to prepare delicious seafood dishes using sustainably sourced seafood, all of which can be easily replicated in the kitchen.” 

Around one billion people depend on seafood as a primary source of protein, mostly in the developing world. Australians are lucky to have a variety of certified sustainable seafood to choose from to do its part to keep oceans healthy and ensure seafood supplies remain strong for generations to come.

Ecolean takes on leadership role with Environmental Product Declarations for packaging

With an emphasis on the entire life cycle impact of the processes from raw material to product end-of-life, Ecolean sets an example for others to follow. As the first packaging system supplier to review the entire system with detailed analysis and description of Environmental Product Declarations (EPD) – encompassing the lightweight packages as well as filling machines – Ecolean continues to develop its focus on sustainability.

Ecolean’s EPDs makes it easy to understand and compare the environmental life cycle impact of Ecolean’s packages and machines – setting an example for others in the industry to follow. In developing the EPDs, Ecolean has conducted a very comprehensive analysis of the environmental impact of its operations.

“I think that far too many in our industry focus solely on a small part of their offering – be it raw materials, recycling or machine performance – never the full environmental life cycle impact. But that’s what we are doing now by publishing these EPDs. We are raising the bar in order for food producers and consumers to get the full picture, without green washing,” said Peter L Nilsson, CEO, Ecolean Group.

In order to be as transparent as possible, Ecolean has traced the environmental impact of the components in the filling machines as well as the packages – as the first packaging system supplier to do so.

“I welcome the publication of Environmental Product Declarations by Ecolean, providing a transparent declaration of the life cycle environmental impact of their products. This is to my knowledge the first case where a company publish EPDs of both their packaging and filling machines, which demonstrates how communication of life cycle based environmental information may be relevant for different applications and target audiences”, said Kristian Jelse, Programme Manager, The International EPD System.

Focusing on sustainability, Ecolean’s ambition is to continuously push the industry agenda and provide transparent and comprehensive sustainability facts from a life cycle perspective in order to achieve real change across borders.

 

 

South Melbourne Market wins environmental award

The South Melbourne Market’s work to recycle tonnes of food, vegetable and other waste, and other sustainable practices is cutting business costs and greenhouses gas emissions.

The market, won the Institute of Public Affairs Australia’s Victorian Environmental Sustainability Award, sponsored by Sustainability Victoria in Melbourne on Tuesday night.

“As community expectations about environmental sustainability grows and waste disposal costs rise, it’s clear that the South Melbourne’s market is hitting the mark on both counts,” Sustainability Victoria CEO Stan Krpan said.

“The South Melbourne Market’s comprehensive program could be applied to other markets and shopping centres, not just in Melbourne, but around Australia,” Krpan said.

“The City of Port Phillip, market management and the businesses that operate there are doing a great job to reduce the amount of waste going to landfills, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and helping vulnerable people in the community.”

The market processed around 400 cubic metres of green waste in 2016/17 (equivalent to more than 22 garbage trucks) through a worm farm creating Market Magic, a mix of worm poo and mushroom compost which is sold at the market.

The market also has a fast-working Gaia recycling unit which turns 8.4 tonnes of food and other waste into compost, also sold at the market, every week. Over a year, the weight recycled is equivalent to 20 Melbourne trams.

Approximately 10,800 litres of oil was collected from the Market in 2016-17. Most is turned into biodiesel which is used in the vehicles which collect it.

Sustainable palm oil: A complex issue

With new labelling choices launched recently in Australia to certify products that are palm oil free, opinions differ on the best way to deal with the complex issue.

The story of palm oil and its supply is a complex one, sometimes pitting environmentalists against economists, and at times against each other. Many of the facts are simple and undeniable. Palm oil appears in many products on supermarket shelves, ranging from foods such as margarine, chocolate and ice cream to soaps and cosmetics. It is also used in fuels for vehicles and power plants.

The problem is, as The State of the World’s Forests 2016 (a report by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United nations) points out, some palm oil plantations contribute to deforestation. This, in turn, leads to a loss of habitat for animals, including the orangutan which has become a poster child for organisations seeking to increase consumer awareness around the issue.

Many in the food manufacturing industry have started to address the problem. For example, US agribusiness giant Cargill suspended business with a Guatemalan producer in December over breaches of the firm’s sustainable palm oil policy, and countries such as Malaysia are introducing their own certification processes.

A 2013 report commissioned by WWF-Australia and the Australian Food and Grocery Council (AFGC), Palm Oil in Australia Facts, Issues and Challenges, states that “the plight of the orangutan has led to public engagement on the production and use of palm oil”.

However, it continues: “Palm oil provides opportunities to support economic and social development in some of the poorest areas in the world.”

With all this in mind, we looked at some of the groups addressing the complicated and often controversial issue.

Orangutan Alliance

The Melbourne-based Orangutan Alliance was launched in early 2017 and instituted its International No Palm Oil Certification Program later in the year. Its trademark is pending by IP Australia.

Founder and chairperson Maria Abadilla said the organisation was established to support conservation projects, and does that through its Palm Oil Free Certification and grants.

Existing legislation in Australia or New Zealand does not require transparency in labelling, she said, and even when it does appear on an ingredients list, there are more than 200 alternative names for palm oil.

“People need to know that, to be able to see the saturated fats, whether palm oil is present if that’s what they’re looking for, but also for their choice,” she said.

Palm oil is a complex issue, but an ecological emergency, Abadilla said.

“The solution will need to come from different groups from new technology, policy change to reforestation,” she said. “Orangutan Alliance is here to provide consumer choice particularly in the absence of clear labelling in some countries.”

Palm Oil Free Certification Accreditation Program 

Bev Luff, spokeswoman for the Palm Oil Free Certification Accreditation Program (POFCAP), said the POFCAP Trademark was approved by IP Australia and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission in November 2016, and the program launched last year to coincide with International Orangutan Day on August 19.

The certification was also approved last year by the Intellectual Property Office of the United Kingdom, the Spanish Patent and Trademark Office and the Austrian Patent Office, she said. Applications are pending in a further 11 countries.

Luff said while POFCAP supports the idea of “non-conflict palm oil”,
as POFCAP refers to sustainable production, only 17 per cent of all palm oil is currently certified as such.

Many organisations had worked hard to discourage deforestation and educate the public and industries of the issues surrounding palm oil production, she said, but the rate
of deforestation continues to be alarming.

“There are also people who avoid palm oil for health reasons – they may or may not care about the environmental issues surrounding its production but they care what they put in their bodies and in their homes,” said Luff.

Luff said POFCAP was not an educational, conservation or political program. “POFCAP purely exists to certify if a product is 100 per cent palm oil free,” she said.

Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil

The inaugural meeting of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil was held in Malaysia in 2003.

The not-for-profit unites stakeholders from all sectors of the palm oil industry – oil palm producers, processors or traders, consumer goods manufacturers, retailers, banks/investors, and environmental and social non-governmental organisations (NGOs) – to develop and implement global standards for sustainable palm oil.

The RSPO has developed a set of environmental and social criteria which companies must comply with in order to produce Certified Sustainable Palm Oil (CSPO).

The organisation not only certifies palm oil as sustainable, but oversees the trade in RSPO Credits, which promote the production of certified palm oil. Working in a similar manner to carbon offsets, an RSPO credit is proof that one tonne of certified palm oil was produced by an RSPO- certified company or independent producer, and has entered the palm oil supply chain.

The RSPO has more than 3,000 members worldwide who represent all links along the palm oil supply chain.

They have committed to produce, source and/or use sustainable palm oil certified by the RSPO.

WWF

Josh Bishop, head of Sustainable Food for WWF-Australia, agrees that one of the most significant threats to the world’s biodiversity, mainly because the plantations displace tropical rainforests that are the habitat for many endangered species.

WWF looks for ways to reconcile the need for food, including palm oil, with the conservation of ecosystems and wildlife, he said.

“Our interest in palm oil is partly to document and confront the threat but also to try and find practical solutions that are economically feasible and help us feed humanity without destroying the planet.”

Part of the solution is having agreed land use plans agreed to by all stakeholders, including the industry and rural communities, he said.

Palm oil is used in the production of everything from margarine, chocolate and ice cream to soaps and cosmetics.
Palm oil.

 

“And then, in those areas where food production is agreed to be the best use of the land, try to ensure that the production practices are as responsible as possible, which means minimising impact on wildlife but also minimising impact on the climate, on water resources, and any adverse impacts on rural communities.”

WWF helped establish the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil, and argues it is possible to achieve “good” palm oil. WWF recognises the importance of palm oil to the economies of many developing countries, and that its production is a much more efficient use of land than that of canola oil or soy oil, Bishop said.

About 20 per cent of global palm oil production is certified, but he acknowledged the provenance of the remaining 80 per cent is problematic.

“It is definitely a problem,” he said, “but there is a practical solution that is available, it’s not terrifically expensive, and there’s no reason why companies can’t switch to sustainable palm oil, including physical supplies of palm oil. It is available in Australia for those who want it.”

AFGC

James Mathews director of ommunications for the AFGC, said palm oil is a fundamental ingredient in some products in the supply chain and there is a lot of consumer misunderstanding about the issue.

“The industry takes information to its consumers seriously, and this is a huge ecological issue of which many companies have invested significantly in sustainable palm oil supply and certified palm oil supply,” he said.

“We are aware that while there is an ecological issue, there’s also the fact that many communities rely on palm oil for their economic lifeblood.”

The AFGC does not support specific trademarks or certifications but believes that improving consumer awareness and transparency of sourcing is vital.

Mathews said there is a risk of demonising an entire industry when there are organisations that are trying to ensure its production in a sustainable, responsible manner.

“You have to be careful to make sure the information is available to consumers, that consumers have some awareness that there is responsible palm oil sourcing through some of the company policies, and we would encourage more and more companies to do that,” he said.

“We would want to act as an incentive, not a disincentive.”

New SA technology to tackle agricultural waste

Technology developed in South Australia that will make it more affordable to convert agricultural waste into high value activated carbon could soon be on the market.

Adelaide based company ByGen’s breakthrough product has the potential to convert millions of tonnes of low-value agricultural waste into high value activated carbon, which can be used to remediate contaminated soil and mine sites.

To help the project come to fruition, the company received a $217,000 through the South Australian Early Commercialisation Fund (SAECF) – administered by high-tech accelerator, TechInSA.

Activated carbon is used to purify soils and liquids by adsorbing pollutants. It also has the potential to be used in water purification.

Although activated carbon can be made from agricultural wastes, the costs currently associated with it are high. Most activated carbon is made from expensive and non-renewable hardwood or coal, rather than cheap and abundant sources of agricultural waste.

The ByGen process enables on-site conversion of agricultural waste into high-value activated carbon (or biochar), using a compact and mobile unit which operates at a low cost.

The unit can be easily and cost effectively transported to multiple sites.

“The global market for activated carbon is estimated to be worth around US$5 billion annually and is growing rapidly,” said South Australian Innovation and Science Minister Kyam Maher.

“Without this technology we can expect the cost for high value carbon to escalate, as demand for housing grows, increasing the need to use land previously occupied by industry.

“This technology provides South Australia with the opportunity to tap into around $1 billion of revenue annually.”

Australia’s first Sustainable Seafood Week

International non-profit organisation the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) will be highlighting the vital role Australians can play every day to help keep our oceans healthy and teeming with life, with the announcement of Australia’s first ever Sustainable Seafood Week, happening 12-18 March 2018.

MSC, in partnership with Taronga Zoo’s famous Seal Show, will be using the week to highlight the need for consumers to safeguard Australian seafood supplies. By simply opting for seafood products that bear the MSC blue fish tick, Australians will be helping to keep our oceans teeming with life for years to come.

With 95 percent of Australian households purchasing seafood each year, MSC ambassador and celebrity chef, Scott Gooding, says it’s important for consumers to be informed on how to make sustainable seafood choices in order to maintain the health of Australia’s native ocean life.

“Australians consume roughly 19kgs of seafood each year, and it’s only expected to increase in the next decade,” says Scott. “The MSC blue fish tick guarantees consumers are choosing sustainable seafood that safeguards seafood supplies for future generations.”

MSC ambassador, marine scientist and model Laura Wells believes Sustainable Seafood Week will help drive conversation about Australia’s marine habitats and the complex interplay between species, including native Australian sea lions.

“There’s already strong support for protecting the ocean’s food-chain, with 75 percent of Australian seafood consumers believing seafood should only come from sustainable sources to help protect marine species such as our beautiful sea lions and seals,” says Laura.

“They are one of many creatures to be affected by unsustainable fishing, and by purchasing MSC’s blue fish tick, consumers are helping to safeguard meals for seals!”

MSC’s Oceania Program Director, Anne Gabriel says with growing global populations, choosing sustainable seafood is important now more than ever. About one billion people depend on seafood as a primary source of protein, mostly in the developing world. Australians are lucky to have a variety of certified sustainable seafood to choose from to do our part to keep our global oceans healthy.

“We’re proud of the support we have from partners such as Taronga Zoo, to highlight the importance of minimising impacts to sea life such as Australian sea lions and seals through choosing seafood which can be traced back to certified sustainable fisheries,” says Ms Gabriel.

“MSC has set the standard for fisheries across the globe with the world’s most recognised certification program for sustainable, wild caught seafood, ensuring the option is there for consumers to make the right decision to keep their diet, and our native species, forever wild.”

Bioenergy project at NSW abattoir commences production

ReNu Energy has announced that the Goulburn Bioenergy Project, located at the Southern Meats abattoir in Goulburn has reached practical completion and commenced commercial operation.

The anaerobic digester and biogas treatment plant have been commissioned and are operational. The digester is receiving the full waste flow from the Facility and biogas production is ramping up with high gas quality. The two 800 kW dual fuel Caterpillar generators have been operated on both natural gas and biogas.

Chris Murray, Managing Director of ReNu Energy said, “The commercial operation of the Goulburn Bioenergy Project is a significant milestone for ReNu Energy and for the bioenergy sector in Australia. The project will supply approximately 4,000 MWh of energy annually, representing over 50% of the Facility’s power consumption and a significant reduction in energy costs and carbon emissions for our customer, Southern Meats.

The Project would not have been possible without the support of Southern Meats, and the

Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA). We acknowledge and thank Southern Meats and ARENA for their support.”

The Goulburn Bioenergy Project is located at the Southern Meats Pty Ltd abattoir in Goulburn, NSW.

The Project includes an anaerobic digester, which is supplied with waste water from the Facility, biogas treatment plant, two 800 kW dual fuel Caterpillar generators and electrical interconnection to the Facility.

The electricity generated is supplied to the Facility at peak times of the daily billing cycle to reduce the Facility’s overall electricity costs. To be able to meet the peak demand periods, the generators can be operated on dual fuel, blending biogas with natural gas.

Dual fuel blending is a novel and innovative application in the field of bioenergy, enabling projects to better meet the demand cycles of customers and enhance project viability through the addition of natural gas.

 

Unilever calls for accelerated industry action on packaging waste

Unilever has called for the consumer goods industry to step-up its efforts to tackle the mounting challenge of ocean plastic waste and create a circular economy for plastics.

One year after Unilever made its industry-leading commitment to ensure 100 per cent of its plastic packaging was fully reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025, CEO Paul Polman welcomed news that 10 companies have made similar pledges.

He urged more to step forward to accelerate the industry’s progress towards the circular economy and address plastic leakage into the world’s natural systems including waterways and oceans.

Research by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation (EMF) has found that the equivalent of one dumper truck’s worth of plastic enters the oceans every minute, and by 2050 it forecasts there could be more plastic (by weight) in the ocean than fish. Today, only 14 per cent of plastic packaging gets collected for recycling.

Polman said: “It is welcome news that many other major companies are making their own commitments to address ocean plastic waste. Yet as a consumer goods industry, we need to go much further, much faster, in addressing the challenge of single use plastics by leading a transition away from the linear take-make-dispose model of consumption, to one which is truly circular by design.”

Unilever believes there are four key actions the consumer goods industry should take to create the systemic change required and accelerate the transition to a circular economy:

For companies to invest in innovation towards new delivery models that promote reuse.

For more companies to commit to 100 per cent reusable, recyclable or compostable packaging by 2025 and set stretching targets for using post-consumer recycled content.

For a Global Plastics Protocol setting common agreed definitions and industry standards on what materials are put into the marketplace, to ensure our packaging is compatible with existing and cost-effective recycling infrastructures.

For companies to engage positively in policy discussions with governments on the need for improvements to waste management infrastructure, including the implementation of Extended Producer Responsibility schemes.

Unilever has made good progress on reducing its waste footprint. Since 2010, the waste associated with the disposal of its products has decreased by 28 per cent and the weight of its packaging has reduced by 15 per cent. The company also stopped sending non-hazardous waste to landfill from its manufacturing sites in 2015.

Alongside its commitment to 100 per cent reusable, recyclable or compostable plastic packaging by 2025, Unilever pledged to source 25 per cent of its resin from post-consumer recycled content by 2025, and to publish its full plastics palette before 2020.

In 2017, the company announced it was making good progress on identifying a technical solution to recycling multi-layered sachets through its Creasolv technology, for which a pilot plant in Indonesia is currently being built to assess its commercial viability. We intend to make this technology open source and would hope to scale it with industry partners, so others – including our competitors – can use it.

In search of environmentally friendly shopping bags

Free plastic carrier bags will disappear from Australia’s two largest supermarkets in 2018. There are many arguments for and against this change, as it is important to look at the all environmental impacts of their alternatives. Dr Carol Kilcullen-Lawrence writes.

Free plastic carrier bags are often referred to as single use; however, this doesn’t take into account their downstream use as bin liners for example. Studies show that, in South Australia when this change occurred, sales of bags for refuse massively increased. In many cases, these bin liners are heavier than carrier bags, so more plastic reaches landfill. Additionally, if light-weight supermarket bags are replaced with thicker bags that customers pay a small fee for, while these are designed to be reusable for a while, if they eventually end up as bin liners the negative environmental impact is even greater.

In Europe they have taken some steps to avoid this use of the sturdier bags for refuse, by describing them as a ‘Bag for Life’ so when they are no longer suitable for carrying groceries, they can be returned to the supermarket for recycling and replaced with a new one free of charge. It’s important to point out however that the colourful branding with supermarket logos etc. provides another negative environmental impact compared to plain light- weight bags.

Many would be surprised at the findings when sustainability of different carrier bags is assessed throughout their full lifecycle. A common reaction is to assume paper bags have the lowest environmental impact. In fact, although studies vary, all agree that paper bags have higher or equal environmental impact (depending upon which specific impact is being measured) as light- weight plastic bags and fabric reusable bags. Paper is only more favourable if measuring eutrophication, as manufacturing and recycling paper carrier bags has a lower impact on our waterways in terms of release of nutrients. In considering other types of environmental impact, resource use, energy and greenhouse gas production, the most favourable carrier bags are light-weight plastic and reusable fabric bags.

Looking more closely at reusable fabric bags, focus clearly needs to shift to how many times they are actually reused. To ensure their impact remains the most favourable they must be reused at least 100 times, with some analysis claiming this can be as high as 175 times. This varies depending on their actual composition, be it PP, PET, cotton or hemp and the like. Many are not sturdy enough to last the distance, in terms of stitching etc. Some customers also raise concerns about hygiene and no studies have taken into account the impacts of regularly washing bags.

While not as numerous as supermarket bags, it would be good to see investigations into other types of free shopping bags at retail outlets. The formats of these are wide and variable – high quality, heavy- weight, paper and plastic – many with elaborate ribbon and cord handles so that when customers recycle them, they are unlikely to deconstruct them into separate components that are compatible with recycling together.

Many DIY stores are giving customers access to cardboard packaging that their goods have been delivered to the store in. This was popular for groceries in many parts of the world years ago. While this could be acceptable to many customers, space is premium in supermarkets and this may not fit with the in-store image large chains want to portray.

Once light-weight carrier bags are gone, will the focus shift to the smaller light-weight grocery bags used for customers to select their own loose produce? Increasingly, there are options emerging to buy fabric reusable versions of these and in reality they could themselves be reused several times as they are not subject to the stresses put on carrier bags.

There are so many factors that come into play when assessing which carrier bags are truly best for the environment. An Australia-wide approach is more likely to achieve the best outcome, rather than individual states and supermarket chains making random decisions. Light-weight plastic carrier bags are not necessarily the worst environmental option, so perhaps the focus needs to move to offering customers effective ways to recycle them. Essentially, their composition is almost identical to many soft plastics used to package all types of products used in the home, and courier bags from online shopping. We shouldn’t accept that these are destined for landfill. Light-weight plastic carrier bags can be diverted into schemes that are emerging for such household waste.

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Dr Carol Kilcullen-Lawrence FAIP PhD is National President of the Australian Institute of Packaging (AIP). 

AIP invites industry to participate in sustainability research

The Australian Institute of Packaging is collaborating with Empauer to undertake research into the attitudes and behaviours of industry across sustainability.

The world-wide survey seeks to compare how the Australian market fares with the rest of the world. Sectors being examined will include; Agribusiness, Apparel & Footwear, Retail, Food & Beverages, Cosmetics, Pharmaceuticals, Health & Well-being, Electronics, and Automotive.

According to Dr Carol Kilcullen-Lawrence Phd, FAIP, National President of the AIP, the survey will provide a state of industry view and will map the activities and barriers that companies navigate in their sustainability efforts.

“A key component of the survey is the comparison of various industries and we are keen to better-understand how different industries treat and deal with sustainability issues and the relationship with packaging,” said Kilcullen-Lawrence.

Industry can complete the short survey by visiting: www.sustainabilitysurvey.co.uk.  The AIP and Empauer will release the survey results in early 2018.