Communicating Sustainability / Environmental Assessment and Reporting
PACIA, the peak body representing Australia's plastics and chemical industries, is successfully assisting its member companies and industries to strive towards leadership in health, safety and environmental performance through innovative approaches and sustainability programs. The Carbon Solutions project is a key component in the sustainability program for members, supported through the Sustainability Covenant with EPA Victoria, and in collaboration with other stakeholders including the Victorian Department of Sustainability and Environment, Sustainability Victoria and VECCI (through Carbon Down). Its purpose is to assist members with the challenges of adapting to a new energy and low carbon emission future.
Equilibrium's engagement by PACIA is to:
- Provide information on both practical and technically complex options for adopting reduced energy consuming/low carbon emission technologies.
- Undertake carbon auditing to benchmark business performance and establish the carbon intensity of products/services.
- Assist members with identifying and adopting low energy/carbon emission technologies and preparing a brief report outlining the outcomes of any analysis and provide recommendations where appropriate.
- Verify and complete energy management plans, assist in the presentation of the results and establish recommendations through a combination of workshops, survey or scenario planning sessions (which may include addressing behaviour and/or attitudes to energy consumption).
- Hold a series of Carbon Solutions Forums. There have been six successful Forums to date (over 2010-2011), with an average attendance of fourty people per forum.
Equilibrium has been engaged by the Australian Government Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities to work on a range of projects with respct to the National Waste Policy (NWP) and the National Television and Computer Product Stewardship Scheme (the Scheme). This has included convening and facilitating stakeholder workshops to develop and implement elements of the NWP and the Scheme, completing detailed material assessments and providing strategic advice and plans.
In 2010 Equilibrium Director Nick Harford was appointed by the Department as independent chairman of the Stakeholder Reference Group for the Scheme. This role involves coordinating a group of 40 diverse stakeholders including state and local government, recyclers, computer companies, television companies, retailers and industry associations in order to progress development of the Scheme.
Greenhouse Gas Accounting
Equilibrium has assisted a number of companies to unravel the complex and time consuming task of measuring and managing carbon emissions - including financial services institution mecu. mecu chose EASE™, carbon accounting software developed by Equilibrium to track greenhouse gas emissions. mecu has been measuring and communicating emissions associated with energy use, employee travel and waste disposal as part of their corporate sustainability report for the past 5 years. Installation and use of EASE™ has streamlined this process freeing up mecu to focus on reducing impacts. As a financial institution mecu is focussed on data quality, efficiency and accuracy. EASE™ helps to achieve this for mecu's carbon accounting and breaks down emissions according to State, building location and type of carbon emitting activity.
Hear more about mecu and EASE™:
Environmental Assessment and Reporting
National and State legislation requires many companies to assess their activities in light of the amount of energy they use, greenhouse gases they emit, amount of water they consume and waste they generate. These regulations include the National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting Scheme (NGERs) and the Environmental Resource Efficiency Plans (EREP). Equilibrium has helped the national agricultural and agribusiness company CostaGroup to assess and understand what their requirements are in relation to measuring and reporting environmental data, not only State by State, but also on a national basis and by each of its 61 facilities. In addition to reviewing CostaGroup's obligations from a compliance perspective, Equilibrium also assisted CostaGroup by:
- Undertaking an environmental review of its 61 sites based on ISO14001 environmental management system,
- Completing an environmental gap analysis across significant sites to identify potential risks and opportunities,
- Assessing public environmental claims and statements made by CostaGroup and its businesses.
Equilibrium continues to assist CostaGroup to ensure that correct tracking of environmental progress continues to enable the group to communicate clear and consistent messages to staff and customers on their environmental performance.
Equilibrium helped clinical product supplier and clinical waste management company SteriHealth to get feedback on its performance and update communications to potential customers. The work included interviewing key customers to assess satisfaction across a standard range of services - including environmental and social performance - while also identifying best practice in comparable organisations. While in the past companies were considered good performers if the financial bottom line was in good shape, today's high performing organisations are those that are:
- Responsive to stakeholder needs and wants
- Responsible for the environment in which they operate
- Resourceful and seeking improvement at all times
- Able to adapt to changing circumstances
The work with SteriHealth provided valuable insights to the priorities customers and other stakeholders have for the company's sustainability performance, and thereby enable it to respond and adapt quickly.
Sustainability and Corporate Strategy
A commitment to sustainability will benefit all organisations - but maximum benefit is achieved when sustainability risks and opportunities are properly aligned with organisational goals and targets. Equilibrium has worked with Australian Paper to assist it to understand its sustainability performance and future threats and benefits. To do this work we:
- Track current environmental and social performance;
- Assess whether the organisation has the capability and capacity to do more;
- Identify best practice in comparable organisations;
- Assess the legal and commercial drivers for change and;
- Identify any relevant consumer or community attitudes.
For Australian Paper the work included interviewing a wide range of internal and external stakeholders. This helped build a comprehensive picture of the full range of impacts the company has and understand what people expect from it in the future. Using tools that ensure objectivity and correct modelling, Equilibrium is able to provide a sustainability value proposition that organisations can then align with their immediate and future priorities.
Sustainability is now a major force in our society that requires us as individuals to change the way that we think and act. It is creating new job markets and changing the pre-existing structures and processes of communities, industry, business and organisations. Sustainability is a key way of thinking that can not simply be an 'add-on'. It needs to be embedded in all areas of curricula in the same way that OH&S is. Education for Sustainability EfS) is an essential tool to help achieve this. Its purpose is to build the ability of individuals, industries and organisations to be able to motivate, innovate and implement solutions so that people can respond effectively to complex challenges.
The TAFE sector has an important role to play in this process, and Equilibrium has assisted Victoria University to design a workshop and supporting material to provide a foundation from where teachers can to start to integrate sustainability into their practice, curriculum and student program designs.
- Understanding sustainability - key concepts and language.
- How to effectively apply sustainability in teaching and learning practices.
- Ability to identify key drivers, policies and frameworks for EfS.
- Ability to use sustainability thinking in course development.