EMS Assocation Newsletter July 2012

On the heels of the introduction of the 'Carbon Tax', this edition of the newsletter has several articles on energy efficiency funding opportunities and other energy topics. We received some good tips when applying for certification of Management Systems and were advised of common pitfalls with ISO 14001.

The influence of the specific elements of ISO 14001 on the adoption of innovations is discussed in the Journal of Environmental Management (or email me for a copy at president@ems.asn.au).

The 2012 Australian GRI Conference on Sustainability and Integrated Reporting speaker audio tracks are available, including an interesting report from Tim Younberry on sustainability reporting amongst Australian government agencies.

We congratulate EMSA corporate member, Virotec Global Solutions, who have won the monthly Gold Coast Business Excellence Award for a second time.

EMSA will hold its next conference in March or April 2013 on the theme 'Using management systems to achieve culture change’. Members interested in running a session, or suggesting a topic area, are asked to get in touch with the committee at contact@ems.asn.au.

...and here’s an interesting idea. Recycled cardboard made into furniture. It’s made in Germany and I have no idea if they have an outlet in Australia, but it looks funky! 

Please remember to ensure that your membership is current - log in to the website and check your status.
Please send in articles for the next newsletter by the end of August.
Genevieve Carruthers
President EMS Association
  1. How ‘going green' is turning into gold
  2. Low Carbon Australia funding for energy efficiency
  3. $8m in clean technology grants
  4. Fruit and veg carbon calculation
  5. Wave power
  6. Virotec takes Gold Coast Business Excellence Award
  7. Tips when applying for certification of Management Systems
  8. Common pitfalls with ISO 14001
  9. The role of environmental champions for ISO 14001 Certification
  10. Treadmill power – help yourself and the planet!
  11. World Bank warns of looming trash crisis
  12. Cities dealing with climate change
  13. Five key change areas for ISO 14001
  14. New view on ‘sustainable packaging’
  15. Apple removes green certification… and then back-flips
  16. $75,000 fine for Surfers Paradise pub

How ‘going green is turning into gold

Many businesses are aleady taking full advantage of the recently amended NSW Energy Savings Scheme. Business can remove or replace old inefficient equipment, modify existing equipment, or install new efficient equipment to save money, energy and become an Accredited Certificate Provider. 

The Energy Savings Scheme reduces electricity consumption in NSW by creating financial incentives for organisations to invest in energy savings projects. Organisations involved :

  • Identify energy savings projects that they can implement to reduce electricity consumption by installing, improving or replacing energy savings equipment.
  • After identifying projects, organisations can voluntarily become an Accredited Certificate Provider. For smaller projects, organisations might choose to work with an existing Accredited Certificate Provider rather than becoming an Accredited Certificate Provider themselves. 
  • After accridation, Accredited Certificate Providers implement energy savings projects and create energy savings certificates. Energy savings certificates represent the energy savings that have been made and are equivalent to one tonne of CO2 emissions.
  • Accredited Certificate Providers sell energy savings certificates, usually to Liable Entities. Liable Entities are mandatory participants in the scheme. Liable Entities include electricity retailers and other parties.
  • Liable Entities surrender energy savings certificates to meet their targets as required by legislation.

Financial incentives are achieved by Accredited Certificate Providers through the sale of energy savings certificates.

One company that has been involved is the Summit Hotel Group. By upgrading to more energy efficient common area lighting, including a retrofit of 30 halogen downlights with CFL downlights  and the installation of 200 fluorescent lamps and ballasts, the business saved over 42 megawatts per annum, resulting in a reduction of electricity costs of over $8000 per year, and a reduction of 50 tonnes of carbon per annum. The switch to green lighting resulted in a payback period of just over 3 months and a first year ROI of 263%, as well as adding to their green credentials. 

Low Carbon Australia funding for energy efficiency

Low Carbon Australia (LCA) was established in 2010 with $100 million seed funding by the Federal Government. LCA provides flexible finance options for companies to become more energy-efficient, by using more efficient refrigeration, air conditioners and similar equipment.  LCA typically invests in projects that involve the retrofit of buildings, upgrading industrial and manufacturing processes and machinery, streamlining logistics and transport – in fact, any part of the supply chain can be considered.

The chair of LCA, Mike Rann (former South Australian premier), says companies investing in new technologies are cutting their energy costs by 20-50%. De Bortoli Wines is one of the companies involved. They have  used photovolatics and solar hot water generation to help reduce their energy bills, and they are finding that the energy they generate is virtually off-setting all their energy costs. As a result, the business has become more competitive. Listed to an ABC Radio podcast with an interview with Mike Rann and a manager at De Bortoli.

Meg McDonald, the CEO of Low Carbon Australia claims that LCA is a global first, building bridges between industry and energy efficiency. “We are set up as an investment fund to co-invest with businesses across the building sector, manufacturing, and retail,” says McDonald. “With capital from the Australian Government, we can structure more specialised finance for energy efficiency”. 

Low Carbon Australia is partnering with other financial  providers to allow businesses to take advantage of financial products not previously available. “We have joined with National Australia Bank, Macquarie Bank, and financial providers like FlexiGroup. So far, the $35 million we have committed to the market place is making $133 million of new finance available”. 

$8m in clean technology grants

An insulation maker, several wineries and an aluminium can manufacturing business have been among early recipients of funding under the new Clean Technology Investment Program. Thirteen grants worth a total $8.1 million were announced in June. They attracted co-investments of $23 million. The program will provide $800 million of competitive, merit-based grants to help manufacturers cope with the carbon pricing. The money must be invested in new equipment and processes that cut carbon emissions.

Manufacturers can be awarded grants of up to $500,000 under the program and have to match the government on a dollar-for-dollar basis. For other sectors covered as part of the Clean Technology Program, businesses applying for all other grants under $10 million are required to contribute $2 for every $1 from the government. For grants of $10 million or more at least $3 must be contributed for each $1 received.

The grants were a practical way for manufacturers to implement changes in their operations in the manufacturing sector, and could also achieve improvements in their energy efficiency, reduce emissions and cut costs.

The 13 successful applicants announced in June included De Bortoli Wines which received $4.8 million to help it use grid power more efficiently, replace old equipment and adopt solar technology across sites in NSW, Victoria and Queensland. CSR Building Products was granted $1 million to install a gas-fired cogeneration system at its insulation manufacturing site in Ingleburn NSW. On a smaller scale, Matilda's Estate winery in Western Australia received $41,000 to install a solar power system. Amcor's aluminium can plant in WA pocketed $44,000.

Click here for more information on the program.

Fruit and veg carbon calculation

Horticulture Australia and Growcom have estimated that farms costs would increase by 0.8% this year and possibly by 0.94% every year until 2020, as a result of carbon pricing. In a new joint report, financial data from one processor and six case study farms were examined in Queensland. The projected cost increases translated to approximately $500 - $41, 000, depending  on the specific industry and size of the farm, while for the processor, costs increases in the first year could be as high as $74,000. Increases in electricity costs of around 10% formed part of the increases, with fertiliser, chemicals, gas, freight and packaging costs also expected to rise.

Growcom has developed a farm carbon price calculator to assist growers in determining potential cost increases.

Wave power

The CSIRO recently released a report which concluded that ocean power generated by waves, currents and tides could supply a city the size of Melbourne by 2050 (the equivalent to 10% of predicted future Australian power needs). 

However, there are environmental, as well as technical and commercial barriers before wave power becomes a reality. The durability of equipment when faced with an ocean environment is one issue of concern. Ensuring that such power generation is cost effective is another. 

A Perth-based company, Carnegie, is currently working on technology to harness the wave power. Carnigie recently signed a deal with defence to supply power to Australia's largest naval base at Garden Island near Perth. The company has invested more than $60 million with another $16 million coming from state and federal governments, with the overall cost of the project expected to be more than the revenue generated from power sales. However, the company believes that investment is important to keep up with the emerging technology, noting that a number of governments around the world are also investing in wave power.

Virotec takes Gold Coast Business Excellence Award

Congratulations to one of EMSA’s corporate members, Virotec Global Solutions, who have won the monthly Gold Coast Business Excellence Award for a second time. Virotec won the award in June this year. The company is currently involved in cleaning up contaminated TAS Paper sites. Virotec Global Solutions Pty Ltd is provides unique, high quality environmental remediation and waste management services to a range of medium to large corporations across a variety of industries in Australia and Asia. Virotec has operated on the Gold Coast at Coomera Waters for the past 12 years and employs 10 locals. 

Virotec's key technologies include ViroMine, ViroSoil, ViroFlow, and ViroSewage. These technologies treat many industrial and municipal liquid and solid waste streams, producing non-contaminated, re-usable water and solids. Virotec used a large-scale application of its ViroFlow Technology for the demolition and site remediation of both the Wesley Vale Pulp and Paper Mill in Tasmania, with the sites receiving final sign-off from the Tasmania Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Over a three-month period,  Virotec removed all asbestos from the site, then safely demolished the building superstructure, which included heavily contaminated steel, timber, concrete and bricks. Following this, all concrete slabs and footings were removed and trammed to a secure lay-down area and then the treatment of contaminated soil under the Cell Plant took place. Virotec treated approximately 2,000 tonnes of contaminated soil and approximately 30,000 litres of contaminated water to the Australia and New Zealand Environment and Conservation Council 2000 water quality guidelines.

The company shows no signs of slowing down in the second half of 2012, with the company expecting to begin large-scale projects in Queensland to treat  and clean up dieldrin (a chlorinated hydrocarbon, used as an alternative to DDT) at one site, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons at another site, and lead at a third site. 

For more information call Sarah Schoeller (Marketing) on 07 5573 3353, or contact her at sschoeller@virotec.com. You can also find out more about Virotec at  http://www.virotec.com

Tips when applying for certification of Management Systems

Contributed by Renzo Huruiti from DNV Business Assurance 

When you apply for certification, the information that you provide will become the basis for the quote you receive. This information is interpreted by a person that will assess the risk and complexity of your operations and will also match your activities against a classification code (e.g. ANZSIC, NACE). How you word your answers is very important because their interpretation will determine things like audit duration and the background of the auditor that will be assigned to you.

In general, these are a few things to pay attention to when you apply for certification:

  • Make sure you write the scope of operations as you want them to appear in your certificate. The scope will also determine the industry classification code you are assigned and this will affect the auditor allocated to you and the audit duration. 
  • Provide accurate staff numbers, this is also very important to determine audit duration. If you have multiple sites, provide a breakdown of staff numbers per site.
  • Write your company name as you would like it to appear in the certificate (e.g. include PTY LTD).
  • If you apply for standards like AS/NZS 4801, OHSAS 18001 or ISO 14001, you will probably have to answer additional questions. Make sure you answer all of them to the best of your ability and give the Certification Body a quick call if you have any questions. These questions are important when evaluating your operations. 

If you shop around for quotes and find discrepancies in the durations, contact the Certification Body as they may have misinterpreted the information you have provided. 

If you have any questions about getting certified, you can contact Renzo Huruiti from DNV Business Assurance (renzo.huruiti@dnv.com).

Common pitfalls with ISO 14001

Contributed by Matthew Day from NCSI

Certifying your business to ISO 14001 is an important commitment to protecting the environment and minimising the risk of pollution. Environmental Management Systems standards give you a framework to create a valid efficient system, win new business, and even reduce operating costs as you cut back on energy and resource consumption. However, there is a difference between simply complying with the standard’s requirements, and developing an ongoing process of change as you work towards consistency and continual improvement.

Lisa Aspinall, NCS International’s Trainer and Client Manager for environmental standards said the first step in any management system is to take the plunge and get started. Don’t expect everything to be perfect and use any pre-certification audits or gap assessment as a learning exercise. Other recommendations were to take time to fully investigate and address and non-conformances, fully analysing what legislative requirements really mean to the business, use of realistic, but ‘stretching’ objectives to achieve meaningful outcomes and need to continually review and assess progress. You can read more at http://www.ncsi.com.au/ISO-14001.html

The role of environmental champions for ISO 14001 Certification

Alex Chamberlain (ERA) recently blogged about the role of the ‘environmental champion’ in gaining ISO 14001 certification. He identified four critical elements that appear to be common to ‘champions’ across all industries and businesses. These key elements are:

  • Being passionate about the environment, and being able to maintain that passion even through the frustrating parts of planning and implementing an EMS. 
  • Being trained and aware. The environmental champion needs to be confident, to really ‘know their stuff’,to be able to identify and leverage opportunities for further improvements, and to raise employee awareness. 
  • Being a skilled communicator and facilitator. Being fluent in the ‘languages’ throughout the organisation and all its levels of staff is crucial. 
  • Being able to bring together the many diverse and disparate threads of a management  system.

Click here for the whole article

Treadmill power – help yourself and the planet!

If you’re like me, going to the gym can seem to be a bit of a battle most days. However, here’s a gym in California that is helping not only with the battle of the bulge, but environmentally as well! 

Gyms traditionally use quite  lot of power – not only on lighting but with most pieces of gym equipment now having one or more gadget to time you, count your pulse rate, tell you to move faster/slower, stronger and so on, there are lots of power uses.  Then, there are the televisions, CD players, water coolers and on it goes. But AC4 Fitness in Goleta, California is now generating power and feeding it back into the grid. Along with wiring up the treadmills and elliptical machines, patrons use refillable water bottles to carry water from a  reverse osmosis ‘hydration station’ (this IS America!), and put their belongings into lockers made from recycled plastic. The gym aims to use as little paper, plastic and energy as possible. The owners believe that they are making a logical extension between people caring for their bodies, tothem also caring for the planet.

‘Green’ gyms are a growing trend. A number of US universities, including UC Irvine and Cal State Northridge, and private gyms have started to introduce equipment that generate electricity. One example, the Greenasium, opened in August 2010, and is gaining financial as well as environmental advantages. There, the floors are covered with mats made from recycled tires, and the dumbbells are refurbished and recycled. Sports drinks and energy bars are not sold in an effort to reduce waste and plastic. To drink, clients use the club’s reusable ceramic mugs or a bottle they’ve brought from home.

But, realising that carbon neutrality was not 100% attainable in the workout studio just with these changes, community service is also added into the mix. Gym staff participate in beach cleanups with the nonprofit environmental group, the Surfrider Foundation, and every other month, they volunteer for a local e-waste recycler.

Another example of a green gym is Kinetic Cycling in Brentwood. The spinning club has been using five electricity-generating cycles since the club opened three years ago. Together, the bikes generate 600 watts of electricity per hour when in use. Silent Woodway Curve treadmills that are self-sustaining and use no electricity are being added to the gym, with the entire space to be lit with energy-saving LEDs.

World Bank warns of looming trash crisis

Ever increasing amounts of rubbish produced by urban dwellers are posing financial and environmental burdens as daunting as global warming, warns the World Bank. They say the costs will be particularly high in poor countries.

The World Banks estimates that 2.2 billion tonnes of waste per year will be generated by city dwellers by 2025, up 70% from today's level of 1.3 billion tonnes. The cost of dealing with this waste is projected to soar to $375 billion a year, from the current $205 billion.

The report, "What a Waste: A Global Review of Solid Waste Management" by Daniel Hoornweg and Perinaz Bhada-Tata (2012) is claimed to be the first worldwide comprehensive look at trash. The report identifies China as the world’s largest waste producer, taking this dubious honour from America in 2004, with China creating around 70% of the trash in the East Asia-Pacific area. Other East Asian areas, Eastern Europe and the Middle East are also rapidly becoming high waste producers. 

The World Bank economists called for better waste management and recycling to combat greenhouse gas emissions, and highlight that there is no ‘away’ to dispose of waste to. "When throwing 'away' waste, system complexities and the integrated nature of materials and pollution are quickly apparent." Including all stakeholders, including citizen groups and the poor and disadvantaged, in the formulation of waste management plans is recommended by the report’s authors. 

Cities dealing with climate change

The Carbon Disclosure Project has released their ‘Measurement for  Management: CDP Cities 2012 Global Report’. The CDP hosts disclosure for 73 cities and local governments from around the world. Participants range from Tokyo City, population 13 million, to the village of Kadiovacik in Turkey, population 216, and include over 75% of the membership of the C40, a group of mega-cities dedicated to climate change leadership. All undertake annul climate change reporting. 

Key findings this year show that while per catpita GHG emissions vary widely, larger, denser cities tend to be more emissions-efficient. The total emissions from the reporting cities totalled 977,659,014 tonnes of CO2e – roughly equivalent to emissions from Canada and Brazil combined.  Most cities saw economic opportunities in the form of green jobs and new business development as anticipated economic outcomes arising from climate change. 

The value of setting targets for change was shown in the report. City governments with emissions reduction targets report three times as many emissions reduction activities as cities without targets. This finding suggests that setting reduction targets provides a strong catalyst for taking action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Much of the funding for changes were coming from the cities themselves, with 64% reporting self-funding change. Private sector funding accounted for 14% of the funding provided. 

Read the full report or look at what the various cities are doing and what they are reporting on.

Five key change areas for ISO 14001

As you will have seen in recent EMSA newsletters, ISO 14001 is currently being reviewed. The revised standard is expected to be adopted in 2015, and operate into the mid 2020s. Recent figures show that over 250,000 accredited certifications to ISO 14001 in 155 countries are current, with predicted growth of more than 25,000 organisations  becoming certified each year. The revisions of the Standard aims to ensure that the issues addressed in the standard reflect the needs of users and allow sufficient flexibility to meet new challenges in management.

 IEMA has been involved in the revision process in order to ensure the standard establishes a firm basis for organisations to integrate the environment into their strategic goals and allow it to meet future environmental challenges. Using an on-line survey, IEMA gathered over 1650 opinions from environmental professionals regarding the revision of 14001, with five key areas for revision. These were:

  • building stronger linkages between the EMS and overall strategic direction
  • considering the impacts of a changing business areana, and to provide a framework for organisations to manage the risks and opportunities in that changing context, in addition to managing their impacts on the environment
  • placing greater emphasis on managing impacts across the value chain, the whole life cycle of products, supply chains and the development and use of products and services
  • integration of EMS requirements within core organisational procedures
  • strengthening requirements on demonstration of legal compliance  with regulations and environmental performance improvement

See IEMA’s position on revising 14001 and the evidence it is based upon

Have any EMSA members contributed their thoughts on the revision of ISO 14001? What has been your experience in contributing to the process? What would be the top areas that you want to see revised in 14001? Please send your thoughts to president@ems.asn.au, or use your profile in the website to blog your ideas.

New view on ‘sustainable packaging’

A new report released by PwC  has concluded that sustainable packaging as a term is no longer relevant today. Sustainable packaging was used as an umbrella term to cover many aspects of sustainability and as such, is deemed too broad a term to be useful at a practical level. No single definition will meet the requirements of all stakeholders. The reality is that it has been substituted with a more balanced view of efficient packaging, which considers:

  • producing effective packaging solutions with minimum resources
  • protecting the product and minimising product waste
  • transport efficiency
  • display efficiency 
  • effective after use disposal and recycling.

For example, packaging suppliers were found to be seeking to reduce the amount of raw materials used in packaging production , and focusing on the efficiency of production, distribution and disposal. PwC’s global sustainability leader, Malcolm Preston, said: “We need to stop using the phrase sustainable packaging. The industry is working towards efficient products, efficient packaging, efficient transport and efficient end-of-life solutions.”

Environmental reporting and life cycle analysis allows organisations to track one product and its packaging throughout its life. This enables all organisations involved to identify areas the where the most significant impacts occur and work together to tackle those.

 Cost of materials, new technologies, security of supply, the demand for convenience, and finding sources of competitive advantage in falling consumer spending are all factors considered to shape the perception of ‘sustainable packaging’ in the future. 

Apple removes green certification… and then back-flips

Apple recently asked the Electronic Products Environmental Assessment Tool (EPEAT) to remove all 39 Apple products from the EPEAT green registry. EPEAT is a group that sets environmental standards for electronics. According to the Wall Street Journal’s corporate technology blog, CIO Journal, Apple made the request at the end of June this year.

EPEAT’s green standards mean that recyclers should be able to disassemble products using common tools to allow toxic components (such as batteries) to be separated, and the items recycled as appropriate.  Apple apparently decided that its new design direction was no longer consistent with EPEAT requirements. 

However, following a customer outcry, in mid-July, Apple decided to rejoin the program; announcing it was reversing its decision to quit EPEAT registry. Apple senior vice president Bob Mansfield said the company had listened to customers who were disappointed by the action to delist from the registry. "I recognise that this was a mistake. Starting today, all eligible Apple products are back on EPEAT," he said on the company website.

There has been speculation that the use of batteries on some MacBooks which are glued into the frame and cannot be easily recycled, were behind the initial decision to leave the EPAET program. After Apple's June announcement, it was reported that San Francisco city official had declared that they would stop purchasing Apple products, as the city’s procurement requirements mandate that laptops, computers or monitors bought by the city to meet top EPEAT standards. Similar rules apply in other US cities and states, meaning that Apple was faced with a major loss of sales if they remained outside the EPEAT program. It is likely that these and similar responses are behind the 'back-flip', promoting Apple to rejoin the EPEAT program.

Read more at SMH and SBS

$75,000 fine for Surfers Paradise pub

 The Gold Coast Bulletin reported (11/7/12) that the operator of the Fiddlers Green Irish Bar at Surfers Paradise had been fined $75,000 plus costs of $3757, for breaching the Workplace Health and Safety Act. Two workers at the pub had attempted to clear a blocked drain in the kitchen with commercial grade caustic soda. The head chef and a 20 year old apprentice chef both were admitted to hospital with severe burns, resulting from the oil and grease in the drain reacting with the caustic soda and “erupting like a volcano”. Neither worker read the safety directions or the safety data sheet. The blocked drain had been reported to management in the past, but no actions had been taken to address the problem. The magistrate noted that the company had cooperated with the investigation and had put subsequently put in place new procedures, and presumably took this into account when setting the fine at the lower end of the scale possible. This case highlights the need to ensure that all staff are adequately trained and that suitable maintenance is carried out in a timely manner to prevent accidents.