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Reducing your organisation's carbon footprint in 2021

over 3 years ago by
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​How industry leaders are creating eco-friendly manufacturing businesses

If you are a business owner or manager looking to further reduce your business carbon footprint in 2021, no doubt you’re looking for ideas on the latest sustainability trends and innovations. 

The good news is, Australia’s projected emissions profile continues to fall. This is partly due to new measures to accelerate the development and deployment of low emissions technologies in the Australian Government’s 2020‑21 Budget, a further reduction in projected emissions from the electricity sector due to continued strong renewables uptake, and the temporary effect of COVID-related restrictions on the Australian economy.

However, while the situation is improving, we still have a long way to go.

And the pressure often falls upon the Australian manufacturers to make a positive contribution when it comes to their business carbon footprint. Because you’re the ones dealing with direct emissions from generating energy, heat, steam, and electricity via day-to-day processes.

So how do you reduce the total amount of greenhouse gases (including carbon dioxide and methane) generated to manage your organisation's carbon footprint? 

Let’s have a look at what others are doing.

Reduce carbon footprint #1 – Conduct an energy audit

Energy audits involve taking a systemised approach to measure, record, and evaluate the flow of energy, determine efficient energy use, and pinpoint any wastage. Once issues and energy leaks are detected, you can start looking into potential solutions.

In addition to improving your carbon footprint, energy audits affect three key areas:

  • profitability by optimising energy expenditure

  • productivity by improving equipment and processes

  • performance by conserving energy use.

Trackie Industries is an organisation committed to providing quality commercial air conditioning, LED lighting, solar energy, and HVAC services in Sydney. They conduct commercial energy audits with a power monitoring system to provide insights for optimising energy management.

The results have been outstanding with businesses reducing operational costs, improving sustainability, and increasing energy efficiency.

For example, one of their energy audits showed multiple power outages being experienced by a manufacturing client were caused by the facility being at its power supply limit. With the installation of a power factor correction unit, the facility enjoyed an extra 20% power and the ability to expand their operation.

Reduce carbon footprint #2 – Review lighting options

Do you have fluorescent lighting running 24 hours a day? 

Then you might want to consider moving to LED lighting. They’re more environmentally-friendly and energy efficient – and also the perfect cost-saving alternative to conventional incandescent lighting.

There’s also the option to move to intelligent LED fittings with built-in programmable sensors and dimming functions. That means when in standby mode, the lights dim to 20% of full luminance.

Asurion Australia is a workshop facility based in Sydney’s south west that specialises in mobile phone repairs for both Optus and Telstra. 

They recently improved their lighting situation by upgrading to the EnLightens Skyline Panel, 4000k 30W. As a low-glare, edge-lit LED panel, the system provided an energy efficient retrofit solution to their conventional fluorescent fit out. In addition, the Skyline produced approximately 42% more light than the existing lights and allowed them to be able to remove all their desk lamps.

The company went from paying $6 to 50 cents per hour for electricity. Asurion also became eligible for a government rebate for energy savings and eliminated their need for lighting maintenance.

Reduce carbon footprint #3 – Tackling plastic pollution

According to the Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Water, and the Environment, the consumption of plastic has increased exponentially. 

While plastic and packaging recycling in Australia is well established, only 14 percent of plastic is recovered for recycling or energy recovery.

Are there any ways you could improve your usage of plastic?

Precious Plastic Melbourneis a leading-edge plastic recycling workspace and community project on a mission to tackle plastic pollution.

PPM's innovative recycling machines turn waste and unwanted plastic into quality, usable goods. As part of a global community working towards a solution to plastic pollution, they strive for a circular economy, better outcomes for traditionally ‘non-recyclable’ products, and encourage communities and businesses alike to find creative ways to salvage and create a second life for plastic waste.

The company collects plastic lids (over 300,000 to date) and turns them into products like hair combs, soap dishes, and coffee accessories. 

Precious Plastic Melbourne has grown its offering to become the go-to for micro-recyclers around Australia. It also offers services such as manufacturing and tool making.

Classic Architectural Group in Melbourne is also seeking to tackle plastic pollution by actively endorsing the substitution and phasing out of PVC usage in building construction.

It also has a L.I.F.E. (Low Impact For the Environment®) Program, which involves implementing measures to ensure products and procedures are environmentally compatible, contaminant and lead-free with minimised VOC emissions. Along with being fully recyclable, recycled products are used in production as well. 

Reduce carbon footprint #4 – Using solar and renewable energy

According to the Australian Government’s Renewable Energy Agency, industry is the largest user of energy in Australia – with around two thirds of that energy used to produce heat for industrial and other processes.

However, there’s a wide range of renewable energy technologies out there.

These include:

  • Renewable electricity

  • Bioenergy, including biomass and biogas (used as fuel in boilers and other equipment)

  • Solar thermal to absorb heat from the sun to heat water or other fluids

  • Geothermal to extract heat from the ground to heat water or other fluids

  • Electrification technologies powered by renewable electricity (like heat pumps, electric resistance heaters, electromagnetic technologies, and electric arc heating)

  • Hydrogen produced from renewable electricity

Last year, the iconic beer, Victoria Bitter (VB), started brewing with 100% offset solar electricity. 

It’s now powered by solar generated from the Karadoc Solar Farm under a 12-year Power Purchase Agreement (PPA). The renewable electricity powers the brewing of more than 100,000,000 litres of Victoria Bitter. The Karadoc Solar Farm is Victoria’s biggest solar farm.

Solar panels have also been installed atop the Abbotsford Brewery in Melbourne and Queensland’s Yatala Brewery. 

Reduce carbon footprint #5 – Getting your staff on board

Apart from the factory floor, there are plenty of sustainable actions to undertake in the office.

Like recycling paper and cardboard. 

As recommended by Ecocycle, shredded paper is great padding to preserve delicate items during shipping. It’s an eco-friendly alternative to using plastic bubble wrap.

Used cardboard cartons can be flattened out, slit, and expanded into a replacement for bubble wrap packaging as well.

You can also get staff on board when it comes to dealing with e-waste. Australia’s National Television and Computer Recycling Scheme aims to increase the e-waste recycling rate from 50% in 2015-16 to 80% by 2026-27.

Encourage everyone to bring in their old phones, laptops, and tablets and organise a pick up by Ecocycle.

It’s a great way to do your part and reduce that carbon footprint.

Reduce carbon footprint #6 – Supply chain efficiencies

Perth-based Axis Industrialoffers an innovative Pally & Lid system to leading healthcare organisations. This integrated materials handling solution replaces conventional trolleys and pallets, manufactured from recycled plastic. The pallet converts to a dolly, enabling the unit to be loaded at a distribution centre, loaded onto a vehicle, unloaded at a hospital and wheeled directly into a ward. 

Through patented designs and an exclusive relationship with Loadhog in the UK, AXIS are delivering a new concept for supply chain transportation in Australia. This system eliminates double handling by removing the need to decant pallets and load trolleys, increasing transport utilisation. 

To summarise our selection of 2021 trends when it comes to business carbon footprint: 

  1. Conduct an energy audit 

  2. Review lighting options 

  3. Tackle plastic production

  4. Consider solar and renewable energy

  5. Encourage staff engagement 

  6. Review supply chain efficiencies 

For more tips on reducing your business carbon footprint, a good place to start is the Business Council of Sustainable Development Australia