Surprise Package. The circular economy crashes into supply chains.

As the UN’s COP27 carnival packs up and leaves Egypt’s Sharm el-Sheikh, many questions will be on the minds of government and business leaders. Like wondering when COP’s climate compensation will become a reality, how it will be funded, and when they can start eating meat again. (Well, maybe not the latter.). They’ll also be watching closely to see if Andrew Forrest’s challenge to Coca Cola's CEO James Quincey, that the seller of corn-syrup stops greenwashing its single-use plastic bottles, will gain political traction. And if investors will react to the idea that carbon emissions liabilities could extend outside of a business’ controllable borders and out into the supply chain.

Businesses are becoming accustomed to regulators making them report on their emissions, and some are adopting net zero targets. Many large businesses have the governance, resources, and processes to manage emissions obligations. While smaller businesses, who in Australia have limited regulatory obligations, are starting to implement voluntary schemes. My own business, Energy Action, has established our green credentials by achieving net zero certification through Climate Active. But business emissions management will get much more complicated if (or when) we need to consider business inputs that are made in far-flung places.

The extension of emissions management and obligations into a business’ supply chain brings with it challenges of scope, measurement, cost and need.

Carbon challenge. Scale and scope.

With supply chains creating 11 times more emissions than a company’s own direct operations they are often the biggest source of carbon emissions. The scale of those emissions is made more difficult by their scope, with daisy chains of linked and unrelated suppliers both creating and mitigating emissions across the products they make – many being moved between countries before finally reaching consumers.

Measurement. It's going to get complicated.

With Scope 1 and 2 emissions, businesses understand how greenhouse pollutants can be controlled, and with standards defined, reporting obligations are straightforward. But for Scope 3 emissions, created indirectly upstream and downstream of a business, measurement is complicated. Carbon accounting standards are immature, data sources tricky to access and emissions intensity of the scope 3 activity can be uncertain.

New rules, new costs.

Business are being driven to manage their emissions by current compliance reporting, stakeholder and investor expectations, and future emissions risks for regulatory regimes expected or foreseen but not yet established. Supply chains represent that existential risk to businesses, posing a potential and possible emissions obligation on the unaware and unprepared.

Shipping operators are especially exposed to out-of-synch international emissions obligations, with ships moving between emissions management and reporting frameworks. Their response? To hedge risks in carbon futures markets in anticipation of increasing carbon obligations.

For businesses that don’t travel, carbon exposures are limited to the local schemes. In Australia, it’s likely that our route to including supply chain emissions will follow the trajectory of local emissions obligations. That is, with reporting and voluntary carbon markets leading mandatory emission reductions and carbon offsets. Previous and current governments have softened the carbon cost impact on emitters by allowing dodgy certificate sources – something that green-tinged crossbenchers and their supporters are unlikely to support. New government oversight seems likely to drive better quality carbon certificates but these will inevitably cost more without supply side intervention.

Cool winds of change.

Business are being driven to manage their emissions by current compliance reporting, stakeholder and investor expectations, and future emissions risks for regulatory regimes expected or foreseen but not yet established. Supply chains represent that existential risk to businesses, posing a potential and possible emissions obligation on the unaware and unprepared.

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Written by Bruce Macfarlane, Interim CEO and Director of Energy Action

Real revenue from Virtual Power Plants?: How businesses can create new revenue streams

When the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) announced its Virtual Power Plant (VPP) Demonstrations project in 2019, the aim was that VPPs would become more widely utilised and an integral part of the future energy market1. So, what is a Virtual Power Plant? According to AEMO, a VPP “Broadly refers to an aggregation of resources (such as decentralised generation, storage and controllable loads) coordinated to deliver services for power system operations and electricity markets.”2 

Importantly, a VPP bundles a group of controllable energy assets to trade power/energy into available markets. These assets could be solar farms, wind farms, combined heat/power units and storage systems such as batteries. This is where a VPP’s major benefit lies – as a medium between the market and Distributed Energy Resources (DER)’s. 

Driving decentralisation of the grid

The primary purpose of DERs is as another energy resource that can be integrated into the National Electricity Market (NEM) – to the benefit of consumers and support of system security. But DERs are already changing the way Australia manages its electricity, driving the ‘decentralisation of the energy grid’. The use of DERs is shifting generation away from the large, centralised power stations and towards on-site generation from households and businesses through rooftop solar, wind, etc.  

45% of Australia's electricity generation could be contributed by DER's by 20504

DER demand is only expected to grow. In fact, the Electricity Network Transmission Roadmap estimates that by 2050, DERs may contribute up to 45% of electricity generation3. Given the Australian government's commitment to a Net Zero future, this move towards decentralised energy provides Australian businesses with an opportunity to create new revenue streams by becoming a key part of this transition.  

VPPs are just getting started 

When the Virtual Power Plant project was announced in 2019, AEMO predicted that there would be 700MW of generation by 20221. While the reality hasn’t matched this3 VPPs are an important tool in the market, relieving the grid during peak times and facilitating renewable energy transition.  

Generating extra revenue from energy

The war in Ukraine, price inflation and high global demand has resulted in one of the worst energy crises ever seen. In Australia, business electricity prices have reached record highs, with the 2022 federal budget predicting even further rises5.  

Smart businesses, however, have found ways to create new revenue streams by contributing to the energy grid. By installing meters and monitoring usage businesses have been able to inject excess energy generation into the grid and generate welcome additional revenue. In fact, some retailers have even begun to offer this as a service, fast-tracking the implementation of monitoring and usage control to help businesses become part of a VPP.  

Join the experts at Energy Action for our upcoming webinar on how your business can take advantage of Virtual Power Plants to drive extra revenue.

Register now

Webinar - How your Business can Generate New Revenue through Virtual Power Plants

24 November, 10:00AM (AEDT)

Sources:

  1. https://aemo.com.au/en/initiatives/major-programs/nem-distributed-energy-resources-der-program/der-demonstrations/virtual-power-plant-vpp-demonstrations
  2. https://aemo.com.au/en/learn/industry-terminology
  3. https://ieefa.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/03/What-Is-the-State-of-Virtual-Power-Plants-in-Australia_March-2022_2.pdf
  4. https://arena.gov.au/renewable-energy/distributed-energy-resources/
  5. https://www.afr.com/politics/federal/electricity-bills-to-rise-despite-falling-coal-and-lng-prices-20221026-p5bt06

A plan for plastics: Why flexible solutions are needed to achieve Net Zero

Of all the industries needing to achieve Net Zero, the plastics industry is the most visible to consumers. Whether it’s a well-known soda, a bottle of shampoo or a container full of takeaway, plastics are a fundamental part of everyday life. Despite having only been in widespread use for just over 60 years, plastics are globally ubiquitous thanks to being relatively cheap to produce, light yet strong, versatile and sanitary. Production continues to ramp up, with one whitepaper1 noting: “The production and use of plastics has nearly doubled in the last 20 years, and is expected to double again over the next 20 years, and quadruple by the early 2050s.”

Over 50% of all plastics ever produced have been made since 2000 1

A linear lifecycle...

There’s no doubt that creating a sustainable, environmentally-friendly plastics industry is the most complex problem to solve. The issue for plastics has always been its linear lifecycle – a process that is problematic from start to finish. Firstly, because plastics are petrochemicals created from processing non-renewable fossil fuels, the raw materials have to be extracted. Secondly, the processing itself “…emits massive amounts of greenhouse gases. Petrochemicals… are responsible for up to 2% of global emissions, the equivalent of all aviation2”.  Thirdly, because plastics are invariably single use, consumers usually end up tossing the item away when its finished with. Which leads to the final environmental problem: plastics usually end up in landfill. A World Economic Forum blog suggests that “Between 1950 and 2015, a whopping 80% of plastic waste ended up in landfills or in the environment. 3

...when circular is needed

“The way out of the dead end is a system change – ditching the linear economy for the circular economy”, says the World Economic Forum3. It foresees a solution that involves plastics being made from renewable sources. The WEF suggests that extracting carbon – the building block of plastics – from renewable raw materials such as waste, biomass and even C02 is not only desirable but possible. It quotes a team of international scientists whose research shows that “a combination of biomass, C02 and recycled waste (with an effective recycling rate of 70%) can be used to produce plastic with net-zero emissions.”

Making advances in plastics recycling

Here in Australia, a recently released report4 by the CSIRO and Chemistry Australia considers the advanced recycling technologies available to address plastic waste. CSIRO’s Sarah King says the report looks at how “advanced recycling technologies can be implemented to recycle a range of plastic wastes which currently can’t be recycled… and evaluates pathways to convert plastic waste into new resources to build Australia’s circular economy and to divert waste from landfill.” The report highlights three major areas of interest:

Only 15% of plastic produced is recycled annually 3

The case for de-carbonisation

There are any number of reasons for the plastics industry and associated manufacturers to become more sustainable. Here are just five.

1. Regulations will get tougher: Carbon emissions regulations are only going one way: more stringent. The European Green Deal, for example, not only looks to achieve 50-55% emissions reduction and 100% recycling for plastic packaging by 2030, but also proposes a ‘Plastic Tax’.

3. Reduce operational costs: Taking action in the form of an Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) policy, for example, is not only about showcasing your company’s green credentials: it can provide real dollar value, too. As this McKinsey6 article highlights: “3M has saved $2.2 billion since introducing its “pollution prevention pays” (3Ps) program, in 1975… by reformulating products, improving manufacturing processes, redesigning equipment, and recycling and reusing waste from production.”

3. Help drive a circular economy: this will go a long way to reducing carbon emissions. As this whitepaper1 noted: “It should already be a crucial part in the initial product design and development process. By focusing on optimising value chain and production processes, as well as adopting a 3R “reuse, reduce, recycle” approach, you can become more sustainable.”

4. Respond to growing consumer and investor demands: Consumers have long been green-savvy. An article in the Harvard Business Review notes that “50% of US consumer packaged goods’ growth from 2013-2018 came from sustainability-marketed products” while “products marketed as sustainable grew 5.6 times faster than those that were not.” Meanwhile, investors are more and more attracted by sustainable investment opportunities, a market that has now reached “$30 trillion6”.  

$30 trillion - global sustainable investment market

5. Switch to renewables: Analyse your whole operation to reduce your business’ energy, water and waste. Consider your whole value and supply chain and put in place a viable emissions reduction plan. A plan that should consider swapping traditional carbon-intensive energy sources to renewables – solar, wind, battery, hydro – to drive all areas of your business.  

Act now to make an impact tomorrow

Energy Action has helped thousands of businesses across multiple industries make the transition to sustainability and achieve Net Zero. (We achieved Net Zero ourselves this year.) Energy Action’s services include:

Solar auctions: Through our solar auction platform you can quickly and easily get the right solar solution, at the best possible price, and select the right purchasing method for you. Installing solar will save your business considerable sums while lowering your emissions and reducing dependency on the grid.

Net Zero transition: Energy Action has a proven five step process to help your business make the transition to Net Zero:

STEP 1: Measure your usage and emissions: you can’t improve what you don’t measure.

STEP 2: Lower your costs: use the measured data to establish areas for improvement.

STEP 3: Consider your emission reduction options: match your appetite for renewables to your budget and timeline.

STEP 4: Procure at least-cost: let energy retailers, renewable energy producers and/or installers compete to win your business.

STEP 5: Manage: from contract fulfilment to certification management.

For more information on how we can help your metal foundry business achieve its Net Zero goals, contact us today.

Sources:

1. Sustainability in Manufacturing: Why the Plastics Industry Should go Net-Zero. Whitepaper: .planetly  by OneTrust

2. Bloomberg Asia: Net-Zero Plastic Is Possible by 2050 With Massive Investment. Leslie Kaufman, May 24, 2022.

3. World Economic Forum, Davos Agenda 2022: It’s time to shift to net-zero emissions plastics. January 14, 2022.

4. CSIRO: Advanced recycling technologies to address Australia’s plastic waste. 25 August, 2021.

5. Plastic Energy Sustainability Report.  August, 2021.

6. McKinsey: Five ways that ESG creates value. 14 November, 2019

7. Harvard Business Review. Sustainable Business Practices: Research: Actually, Consumers Do Buy Sustainable Products. Tensie Whelan and Randi Kronthal-Sacco. June 19, 2019.

Coming in from the cold: Sustainable solutions for the cold storage industry

Like all industries tasked with reducing carbon footprints in line with the Paris Accords, the cold storage and cold chain sectors face considerable hurdles in coming up with sustainable solutions and becoming Net Zero businesses. Not least because of the high levels of energy use involved in the storage and transportation of food.

Around the world, cold storage and cold chains are vital cogs in national economies, helping ensure that fresh, healthy food is kept that way – from initial harvesting and preparation, to storage and distribution. Whether it’s fruit and veg, dairy, meat or seafood, the safe and efficient delivery of carefully harvested and farmed fresh food is essential for business and for citizens’ health and wellbeing.

A double-edged sword

While cold chains minimise food wastage and loss, and mitigate methane emissions, helping to “eradicate the burden of food wastage estimated at almost $1 trillion per year,1 they are also responsible for “a third of hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) emissions, or 1% of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions1.”  What’s more, in developing countries, cold chain CHG emissions are expected to grow significantly over the next decade and beyond – exacerbating an already difficult problem.

2-4% of total UK GHG emissions comes from food refrigeration

Home truths

Australia, of course, being the hot dry land mass it is, relies on its cold storage and cold chains. Here, refrigeration-related processes such as cooling, freezing, air-conditioning and cold storage are large contributors to carbon-emissions in food-related industries. One estimate suggests that “The total energy spent in the Australian food industry to keep an unbroken cold chain from farm to consumer is about 19,292 GWh/year (or 18 megatonnes of CO2 –e). This indicates that the cold chain of foods (including refrigerated transport) emits the equivalent of approximately 4.3 million cars on the roads each year. 2

Challenges and opportunities

There’s no doubt that in order to deliver sustainable economic, environmental, and social outcomes, “A net zero cold chain requires an ecosystem of policy, regulation, wider logistics, and energy system development, as well as efficient producer and consumer behaviours. 1 Some of the challenges that need to be overcome in order to achieve this, include:

Challenge: lack of regulation. In terms of standards in design and maintenance of cold storage buildings, leading to energy inefficiency.   

Opportunity: cold storage benchmarking. In July 2022, NABERS (the National Australian Built Environmental Rating System) introduced its Accelerate program, to provide for data benchmarking energy use. Over the last 20 years, NABERS has shown that “what gets measured gets managed”, with customers saving an average of 30-40% on their energy over 10 years.  

In addition, AIRAH (The Australian Institute of Refrigeration, Air conditioning and Heating) has released best practice/solutions for design and commission of buildings, suggesting that future cold storage buildings can be much more energy efficient and sustainable.

“NABERS ratings have helped save 7 million tonnes of CO2 emissions and over AU$1 billion in energy cost savings for building owners3.”

Carlos Flores, Director NABERS, Department of Planning, Industry and Environment

Challenge: electrically intensive. Energy Action estimates that 85% of facility energy consumption is from refrigeration.4   

Opportunity: electrification work is already done. The challenge is to make the use of energy more efficient and cost effective – particularly given today’s high energy prices – with fewer emissions. 

15%+ energy saving

SWIRE COLD STORAGE, AUSTRALIA’S LEADING REFRIGERATED WAREHOUSE PROVIDER, WITH A FLEET OF 220-PLUS VEHICLES AND 17 FACILITIES OCCUPYING 73 MILLION CUBIC FEET, INTRODUCED NEW VARIABLE SPEED DRIVE TECHNOLOGY TO ITS ROTARY SCREW COMPRESSORS, REDUCING ENERGY CONSUMPTION BETWEEN APRIL AND SEPTEMBER BY MORE THAN 15%.5

- Annual reduction in carbon pollution of about 840 tonnes
- Savings of around 786 megawatt hours p.a.

Challenge: renewable energy purchasing is not well understood.

Opportunity: using renewables for energy supply will significantly reduce energy costs and emissions. From battery to solar, wind power to hydro, renewable energy is the driving force towards sustainability. Not only is renewable power cheaper than conventional fossil fuel power,4 it’s gradually replacing coal and gas in total energy supply. For example, as part of the overall Net Energy Metering (NEM) capacity, it’s forecast that solar and battery will increase by over 75% from 2025-20494.

100% of energy generated on-site

In California, Lineage Logistics, the world’s largest temperature-controlled industrial REIT and logistics solutions provider, has installed a 3.3MW solar array and 460kW of linear generators at its Colton Agua Mansa facility, allowing it to generate 100% of its energy consumption on-site6.

- 8,426 individual solar panels
- Generating an estimated 5.4 million kilowatt-hours (kWh) of clean energy annually

Act now to make an impact tomorrow

Energy Action has helped thousands of businesses across multiple industries make the transition to sustainability and Net Zero. (We achieved Net Zero ourselves this year.) Energy Action’s services include:

Solar auctions: Through our solar auction platform you can quickly and easily get the right solar solution, at the best possible price, and select the right purchasing method for you. Installing solar will save your business considerable sums while lowering your emissions and reducing dependency on the grid.

Net Zero transition: Energy Action has a proven five-step process to help your business make the transition to Net Zero:

STEP 1: Measure your usage and emissions: you can’t improve what you don’t measure.

STEP 2: Lower your costs: use the measured data to establish areas for improvement.

STEP 3: Consider your emission reduction options: match your appetite for renewables to your budget and timeline.

STEP 4: Procure at least-cost: let energy retailers, renewable energy producers and/or installers compete to win your business.

STEP 5: Manage: from contract fulfilment to certification management.

For more information on how we can help your metal foundry business reach its Net Zero goals, contact us today.

Sources:

1. Net Zero cold chains for food: A discussion document on the case for philanthropic action. September, 2020.

2. Chain of Thought: The newsletter of Food Chain Intelligence. food-chain.com.au

3. NABERS Cold Stores fact sheet  

4. Energy Action Cold Chain Webinar

5. Cast study – Swire Cold Storage. Office of Environment & Heritage

6. Eco Voice: Lineage Logistics Announces its First Cold Storage Facility to Produce 100% of its Energy Consumption On-Site.     November 11, 2021.

Accommodating Net Zero: Sustainable Solutions for the Hotel Industry

As international and domestic travel ramps up, the pressure on the accommodation industry to introduce practical sustainability initiatives leading to Net Zero has intensified. Long known as an industry with high levels of wastage and excess, hotels also have “the highest energy intensity of all commercial real estate classes1.” The challenges are substantial, with a paper from global design and consulting firm, Arup, noting that ”The Sustainability Hospitality Alliance found that the hotel industry needs to reduce its carbon emissions by 66% per room by 2030, and by 90% per room by 2050.2” 

66% reduction in carbon emissions per hotel room needed by 2030

Big brands respond

The tourism industry has always been fiercely competitive, and hotel groups – regularly renovating and reinventing themselves – understand the importance of change in attracting clientele. So, it’s no surprise that major hotel groups have embraced the challenge, with 300 of them, post COP26 – including Accor, IHG, Hyatt, Hilton and Marriott – “committing to deliver ‘a concrete climate action plan’ outlining how they will measure, decarbonise, regenerate and unlock finance for environmental measures. 3

Home comforts

Here in Australia, hotel operators and owners are also at the forefront of the sustainability initiative. Just as well, because in Sydney, all hotels – whether established or new – have only until 2026 to meet the city’s Net Zero target for carbon emissions. One of the groups leading the charge is Pro-invest, which owns three Sydney hotels. Sabine Schaffer, managing partner and co-founder of Pro-invest Group, said energy efficiency is now a development priority for its 17 Australian assets4. Indeed, its Holiday Inn Express in Newcastle, opened in 2019, was the first hotel in Australia to get NABERS carbon-neutral certification, with “Energy saving measures including special flooring, light sensors and minibars six times more efficient than the norm4.”

Pathways to progress

There are a number of ways hotels can drive decarbonisation goals. Here are five.

1. Measure consistently: The Net Zero Methodology for Hotels provides guidance on how to approach Net Zero from a practical perspective. Patrick O’Meara, CEO of Sustainability Hospitality Alliance, says: “The Methodology helps hotels to set boundaries, to measure and report emissions in a consistent way, and to make appropriate use of carbon offsetting in the short to medium term. 5

2. Control and monitor: The Arup report1 shows how optimising operations (how rooms are booked, the schedule of heating and cooling, and so on) is the most cost-effective and easiest way to reduce consumption and cut carbon, resulting in a potential 19% savings.

3. Use smart technology: Around 80% of buildings we’ll be using in 2050 already exist1. So modernising older buildings with smart technology is a no brainer. Whether that’s through a simple key card that turns off heating, lighting and air conditioning when guests leave the room, or more sophisticated technology, such as lifts with regenerative drives which recover energy and feed it back into the system – modern technology can have a significant impact on reducing energy and operating costs.  

4. Reduce consumption: “Energy, water and waste account for the bulk of [hotel] emissions, and reducing these can lower operating costs. For instance, energy consumption produces 60% of a hotel’s carbon emissions and represents around 6% of operating costs. 6

60% of hotel's carbon emissions comes from energy consumption.

“If energy is going to be one of the most serious input costs for hotels in the future, the savings resulting from these initiatives can be a game changer.”

Ross Beardsell, Executive Vice President, JLL Advisory & Asset Management, Australasia

5. Switch to renewables: “A good place to start is by swapping out carbon-intensive energy sources such as oil, coal, and gas for newer, cleaner, electric options” says Hospitality Technology7. This could involve buying renewables from the grid, whether from battery or solar, wind power or hydro. Equally, where possible, it may involve producing renewable energy on site. Meliá Serengeti Lodge in Tanzania, for example, generates 45% of its energy via solar panels, while in the US, the Hyatt Regency, Greenwich, generates 75% of its energy from an on-site fuel cell3.

Fueled by necessity, powered by legislation, and increasingly driven by consumer values, the move to Net Zero is inexorable. There’s no clearer evidence than the Hotel Marcel in New Haven, Connecticut – the US’ first Net Zero hotel, run entirely on energy generated from solar technology.

As Ross Beardsell says, “Who knows, sustainability initiatives could be the difference between winning a major account and market share in what is an increasingly competitive hotel market.”

Act now to make an impact tomorrow

Energy Action has helped thousands of businesses across multiple industries make the transition to sustainability and Net Zero. (We achieved Net Zero ourselves this year.) Energy Action’s services include:

Solar auctions: Through our solar auction platform you can quickly and easily get the right solar solution, at the best possible price, and select the right purchasing method for you. Installing solar will save your business considerable sums while lowering your emissions and reducing dependency on the grid.

Net Zero transition: Energy Action has a proven five step process to help your business make the transition to Net Zero:

STEP 1: Measure your usage and emissions: you can’t improve what you don’t measure.

STEP 2: Lower your costs: use the measured data to establish areas for improvement.

STEP 3: Consider your emission reduction options: match your appetite for renewables to your budget and timeline.

STEP 4: Procure at least-cost: let energy retailers, renewable energy producers and/or installers compete to win your business.

STEP 5: Manage: from contract fulfilment to certification management.

For more information on how we can help your metal foundry business reach its Net Zero goals, contact us today.

Sources:

1. Schneider Electric blog. Net zero carbon hotels: Making hotels of the future a reality today. May 3, 2021.

2. Arup Research: Transforming Existing Hotels to Net Zero Carbon.

3. Accom News: Op-Ed: Clear, honest sustainability charter imperative for every hotel in 2022. Ross Beardsell,

    December 7, 2021.

4. CoStar: Sydney Hotels Gear Up for Ambitious Net-Zero Targets. Tamara Thiessen, April 12, 2022.25 October, 2021.

5. Hospitalitynet: Hospitality industry launches new net zero methodology for hotels. December 17, 2021.

6. Hospitalitynet article 3 ways to reach net zero by 2050 in the accommodation sector. Ben Schroeter, Director of Strategic.

Printer friendly: Net Zero and the print industry

If you work in an office you will probably have been doing your bit for the environment by reducing paper use (printing less), using recycled paper and switching to digital alternatives whenever possible. That’s most people’s closest connection to the printing and graphic arts industry, a major economic contributor in Australia, with around 6,500 businesses and 27,000 people employed in related industries1.

As the drive towards Net Zero emissions in line with the Paris Accords continues, Australian businesses – from agriculture to education, resources to meat processing – are at various stages of their sustainable journey. Commercial print, which has always understood the benefits of innovation, is a long way along the road. And it needs to be, given that it is an energy intensive industry, and that: “Companies are being pressured by customers, investors, regulators, and employees to take responsibility for the environmental impact of their activities across the value chain2.”

84% of IT decision makers prioritise suppliers
offering sustainable products and solutions2

Big names lead the way

The printing industry has much to be proud with its environmental record. As Walter Kuhn, president of employers’ association PVCA, says: “Its paper supply is now virtually all accredited. In addition, recycling of used consumables is a part of most print businesses, processless plates are becoming the norm, bio-degradable chemistry, vegetable inks, LED lights are all available, and the equipment itself is becoming recyclable3.”

According to the Printer Industry Trends Australia 2021-20222 report, some of the world’s most renowned printing brands are at the forefront of the sustainability drive.

Epson, for example, was number one in Forbes Japan’s list of sustainable companies and has announced that all its worldwide group sites will source their electricity from 100% renewables by 2023.

HP aims to be carbon neutral by 2025 and to reduce its Scope 1, 2, and 3 greenhouse gas emissions by 50% (compared to 2019) on an absolute basis by 2030. It has also bankrolled a $5 billion, five year revolving credit facility as a sustainability-linked loan (SLL).

Canon too, has developed a Net Zero pathway. In Oceania, it has achieved a 13% average reduction in Scope 1 and 2 emissions per annum since 2009 while Canon New Zealand has reduced its overall emissions by 52% since 2018. 

100% of Epson global sites’ electricity
sourced from renewables by 2023

Why Net Zero makes commercial sense

1. Net Zero targets influence print supplier choice: In fact, according to the QuoCirca Sustainability Trends 2022 report2, 9 out of 10 respondents said a company’s Net Zero target impacts their choice of vendors to a “Great or moderate extent”.

2. Eco credentials will become part of the tender matrix: According to the Printer Industry TrendsAustralia 2021- 20224  blog, it already is for many jobs, particularly from government and corporate print buyers.

3. Green certification provides a competitive advantage: Developing sustainable practices is one thing; being able to promote green credentials to an ever more eco-savvy public through certification can make all the difference to winning business.

4. The next generation demands sustainability: The QuoCirca Sustainability Trends 2022 report2 found that respondents under the age of 35 were more likely to say Net Zero influences their choice of supplier. It’s a generation that is destined to gain more decision-making in the workplace in future.

5. Significant savings: Whether it’s reducing energy costs or installing solar to become less dependent on the grid, there’s no doubt that commercial printers can make significant savings lowering their carbon footprint.

“Many printers have all or some of their power coming from solar, and power is what COP26 was mainly about. I would imagine there are no other industries that use as much solar power as print.”

Walter Kuhn, president of employers’ association PVCA

$700k energy cost saving

Multi-Colour Corporation (MCC) is an energy intensive enterprise printing an infinite variety of labels for world-famous brands across five sites in Australia and New Zealand. Through pro-active energy procurement and management services provided by Energy Action, it has saved in the region of $700,000 on its energy bills since 2017.

“The global effort to limit climate change must be seen as an opportunity for the print industry”, says the QuoCirca Sustainability Trends 2022 report2. “It is an industry with considerable resources in terms of innovation, R&D, and highly developed expertise, which it can place at the disposal of its customers to assist them on their journey to net neutrality.”

Act now to make an impact tomorrow

Energy Action has helped thousands of businesses across multiple industries make the transition to sustainability and Net Zero. (We achieved Net Zero ourselves this year.) Energy Action’s services include:

Solar auctions: Through our solar auction platform you can quickly and easily get the right solar solution, at the best possible price, and select the right purchasing method for you. Installing solar will save your business considerable sums while lowering your emissions and reducing dependency on the grid.

Net Zero transition: Energy Action has a proven five step process to help your business make the transition to Net Zero:

STEP 1: Measure your usage and emissions: you can’t improve what you don’t measure.

STEP 2: Lower your costs: use the measured data to establish areas for improvement.

STEP 3: Consider your emission reduction options: match your appetite for renewables to your budget and timeline.

STEP 4: Procure at least-cost: let energy retailers, renewable energy producers and/or installers compete to win your business.

STEP 5: Manage: from contract fulfilment to certification management.

For more information on how we can help your metal foundry business reach its Net Zero goals, contact us today.

Sources:

1. Australian Industry and Skills Committee: Printing and Graphic Arts

2. The Print Sustainability Imperative: QuoCirca Sustainability Trends 2022 report, Louella Fernandes, 31 March, 2022.

3. Print 21 blog: Print industry pioneering green transition, but more to be done, Wayne Robinson, 19 November, 2021.

4. InkStation blog: Printer Industry Trends Australia 2021-2022.

Making metals work: moving to zero emissions.

If people were asked to guess what is the biggest planet polluter in terms of man-made greenhouse gas emissions, high on the list would be cars. Yet, astonishingly, global metal production accounts for more than all cars combined – responsible for 9% of greenhouse gas emissions1. According to a report: “Steel is the second-most polluting industrial material after cement, causing 7% of global greenhouse gas emissions.1When we consider that developing countries still need to increase their stocks of metal to provide essential services such as transport, housing and communications for their citizens, it’s clear that the production of primary metals will continue to increase, making the drive towards zero emissions in accordance with the Paris Agreement ever more difficult.

9% of the world’s emissions comes from metal production

Two approaches: Change the process

At the heart of one potential change in steelmaking is ‘green steel’ – a process that involves manufacturing steel without using coking coal; a process that is forecast to eventually be more efficient than blast furnace steelmaking. “Hydrogen made using renewables, known as green hydrogen, has been hailed as the energy and reactant source to replace coking coal in steel manufacturing,” says an ABC report3.

In Australia, Andrew Forrest, founder of Fortescue Metals Group, is an enthusiastic supporter, saying “The solution is hydrogen. To make it, all you need to do is run electricity through water4”.  BlueScope Steel is also embracing the challenge, while acknowledging that there’s a long way to go in terms of the technology being able to produce the renewable energy quantities required to manufacture steel at today’s levels.

Two approaches: Be more energy efficient

Metal producing businesses are necessarily energy-intensive businesses. Why do they need to lower their carbon footprint and move towards Net Zero emissions?

Energy price rises – these can have a considerable impact on business profitability

Reliance on a single source of energy – comes with business continuity risks; better to use diversified energy sources

Regulatory pressures – pushing organisations to account for and reduce their emissions 

Community pressure – increasing consumer desire to only engage with ‘sustainable’ businesses

Five ways to reduce energy costs

Sustainability Victoria5 worked with over 300 metal fabrication manufacturers, looking at energy use and how to minimise energy costs. Some of its key findings include:

1. Insulate piping: Insulating steam or chilled water piping to reduce temperature loss and improve the amount of energy used to function.

2. Implement heat recovery: Redirect heat that would otherwise be vented outside to preheat water for boilers or heat the workplace.

3. Install power factor correction equipment: Power factor is a measure of how effectively your equipment uses electricity. Reduce the amount you pay on your ‘network demand charges’ by improving your power factor and correcting supply inefficacies.

$600k saving over 3 months thanks to demand response strategies

With power bills of between $700,000 and $1.2 million each month, Adelaide metal foundry, which consumes around 4% of South Australia’s energy supply each year, has a huge incentive to reduce energy costs. Thanks to using ‘demand response’ strategies to switch off in times of peak demand, it was able to save $600,000 on its power bills in three months6.

4. Install a gas or electricity meter on high-energy equipment: Monitor use on equipment that uses the most energy. Analyse the data to see if the equipment is working efficiently.

5. Invest in solar: Power your site with a photovoltaic solar system to reduce your energy costs and greenhouse gas emissions.

Act now to make an impact tomorrow

Energy Action has helped thousands of businesses across multiple industries make the transition to sustainability and Net Zero. (We achieved Net Zero ourselves this year.) Energy Action’s services include:

Solar auctions: Through our solar auction platform you can quickly and easily get the right solar solution, at the best possible price, and select the right purchasing method for you. Installing solar will save your business considerable sums while lowering your emissions and reducing dependency on the grid.

Net Zero transition: Energy Action has a proven five step process to help your business make the transition to Net Zero:

STEP 1: Measure your usage and emissions: you can’t improve what you don’t measure.

STEP 2: Lower your costs: use the measured data to establish areas for improvement.

STEP 3: Consider your emission reduction options: match your appetite for renewables to your budget and timeline.

STEP 4: Procure at least-cost: let energy retailers, renewable energy producers and/or installers compete to win your business.

STEP 5: Manage: from contract fulfilment to certification management.

For more information on how we can help your metal foundry business reach its Net Zero goals, contact us today.

Sources:

1. From mining to making: Australia’s future in zero emissions metal

2. CSIRO website: Steeling ourselves: How Australia can support the transition to net-zero steel

3. ABC News website: Startup promises green steel by 2025 as decarbonisation race heats up. 8 February, 2022.

4. ABC News website: Hydrogen touted as solution in BlueScope's long road to green steel 25 October, 2021.

5. Sustainability Victoria website: Energy efficiency in manufacturing metal

6. Australian Financial Review:Powershop, United Energy, metal foundry sign up for demand response trial 11 October, 2017.

Net Zero: How to Move Intentions into Action

As more businesses chart a course towards net zero emissions, we look at some of the steps to actually get there.


Almost a third of Australia’s 300 largest listed companies have now committed to net zero carbon emissions. The rate of business-led net zero commitments has also accelerated in the light of the alarming report delivered by the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).


Pledging to net zero emissions is an encouraging step, following up with an action plan is the hard part. We look at five key elements of implementing net zero plans to help businesses take the next steps.


Measure


Achieving net zero emissions by the intended target date starts by understanding your business’ current carbon footprint. This means measuring your energy and emissions data across all sites and energy suppliers.
There is a difference though between energy intensity and emissions intensity. For example, a building may have low energy intensity as measured by the NABERS energy intensity framework and benchmarking tool. However, if the same building is heavily reliant on coal-fired energy sources, it will not have low emissions intensity.


Reduce


As Dr Alan Finkel noted in the July edition of Quarterly Essay that 82% of Australia’s emissions in 2020 are related to fossil fuel combustion. This included electricity (34%), stationary energy (20%), transport (18%) and fugitive emissions in fossil fuel extraction and transport (10%). Businesses must thus examine energy usage, including when and where it is being used. Simple changes like motion-sensing lighting and opting for cost-effective, energy-saving equipment can reduce both emissions and running costs.


Renewable energy


Replacing energy generated by fossil fuels with renewable energy should be a cornerstone of businesses’ net zero plans. Our clients have recently discussed how current low pricing large-scale generation certificates can help them to reach their net zero energy targets ahead of schedule.


Renewable energy options include onsite solar. Because these don’t have standard network supply charges, again, they can reduce both emissions and running costs. Through our Solar Auctions, businesses can have reputable suppliers bid competitively for their required system spec delivering further cost efficiencies.


Procurement


Innovative low emissions procurements options are emerging. For example, we have launched Green Auctions, a cost-effective way for businesses to secure a renewable-backed energy supply agreement (RESA) and speed up their transition to net zero. Businesses can now leverage a standard energy supply agreement to access 50% to 100% firm priced renewable supply.


Some of our clients say that the type of energy they purchase and their upgrades to property and equipment are also opportunities to drive change through their investments and to signal to the energy market that emissions reduction is the intent.


Offsets


Many businesses may have some residual emissions that are either very difficult to eliminate or outside of their control. This is where carbon offsets may help. These involve buying offsets from companies planting trees to absorb carbon or installing renewable energy, for example.


However, the price of carbon offsets remains low due to supply outpacing demand in previous years. This, it is argued, can make offsets more appealing than other more impactful pathways to deeper emissions reduction.
While carbon offsets can also help channel money into new technology, it is important to scrutinise their credentials. For example, would these projects have been financed without an offsets market and therefore do not offer additional environmental benefits?


Stakeholder engagement


Energy Action’s net zero plan also captures waste, paper usage, business travel and catering. Eventually, it will extend to events and conferences and our employees’ commute to work. But to ensure that energy initiatives are ongoing, stakeholder engagement and strong governance are imperatives.


Energy management policies that guide procurement teams through minimum performance or emissions reductions standards are emerging as one way to achieve organisational alignment. If you are considering how to formulate and implement these policies, we encourage you to attend our energy management webinar on 7th October.

Australia's Journey Towards Net Zero Emissions

Piloting a New Renewable Gas Certification Scheme

The transition of the Australian and global economies towards net zero emissions is underway. This is driven by Government policy initiatives coupled with private sector and investor responses and changing consumer expectations.

Natural gas is an important fuel for heat production, particularly in applications where high temperatures are required. Approximately 25 per cent of Australia's stationary energy consumption is natural gas. In addition, there are even more significant levels of liquified natural gas exports.

While the emissions intensity of combusting natural gas is about half that of burning coal, emissions associated with natural gas extraction for onshore combustion and export accounted for 30% of Australian emissions in 2020.

 Therefore, it is unsurprising that Australia's transition to a net zero economy will require a significant focus on addressing natural gas emissions.

Several approaches to addressing these emissions are currently attracting a lot of attention for their potential to provide an alternative to natural gas at scale

One such approach is using renewable gas, such as biogas, instead of methane or natural gas.  Biogas is derived from the breakdown of organic material such as wastewater, agricultural waste, food waste and industrial waste. From there, it is converted to biomethane and used as a carbon-neutral substitute for methane.  

Research by the International Energy Agency found the world's biogas and biomethane resources could meet 20 per cent of global gas demand while also reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

The use of biogas also has added benefits by addressing waste-related issues and developing a more circular economy.

The pilot scheme

The New South Wales Government managed GreenPower and Jemena and Energy Network Australia (ENA) piloting a renewable gas certification scheme.

The pilot will commence in 2022 and enable a small number of New South Wales gas household customers to have access to verified and accredited renewable gas. 

A successful pilot should assist in enabling further investment in new sources of renewable or green gas.  It will also allow consumers to achieve emissions reductions where they can not readily switch to renewable electricity.

The scheme is expected to operate similarly to the existing GreenPower accredited electricity scheme where customers can voluntarily purchase part or all of their electricity consumption from renewable sources. 

The certification of renewable gas would similarly be voluntary and administered by GreenPower.

The first renewable gas production source to be used in the pilot scheme is the Sydney Water owned Malabar biomethane injection project. This uses wastewater to produce biomethane to be injected into the local gas distribution network. The facility is expected to supply up to 6,300 households with carbon-neutral gas.

The pilot is expected to run for two years and will inform a process to develop a permanent scheme.

Conclusion

The need to decarbonise Australia's natural gas sector is clear, there are, however, several approaches to achieve this outcome, and a combination of approaches will likely be required.

A successful renewable gas certification scheme will help support a sustainable renewable gas industry and reduce emissions.

If you have any questions or need advice on your journey to net zero or the availability and opportunities of renewable gas for your business, don't hesitate to get in touch with your Energy Action account manager or contact us on 1300 964 589.

Green Auctions: The New Way Towards Net Zero


"Green Auctions: The New Way Towards Net Zero", was a free webinar held on the 26th May 2021. In case you missed it, we've got a replay just for you.

We've identified a gap in the market when it comes to powering your business on 100% renewable energy. That's why we've introduced Green Auctions. Green Auctions are a simpler, cleaner and lower cost way for your business to achieve Net Zero. In "Green Auctions: The New Way Towards Net Zero", you'll find out what a Green Auction is and learn how it compares to other types of renewable energy contracts. These include Green Power and Corporate Power Purchase Agreements to name a few. Let our experts, John Huggart and Julie Do, guide you through the wonders of our newest innovation.

Below are some useful resources mentioned in this webinar:

Register your business for a Green Auction today

Green Auctions are here and they are the new way towards net zero. If you would like fast track your journey towards net zero by registering your business for a Green Auction, simply click above and one of our Energy Experts will be in touch.

Read the draft of the Aus CERT, available now via the Clean Energy Regulator website

Read the Aus CERT Draft

As mentioned during the webinar, you can download a copy of the draft of the Australian Corporate Emissions Reduction Transparency (CERT) report via the Clean Energy Regulator website or by clicking above.

Check out our Energy Action Price Index (EAPI) for exclusive insights on the pricing of the energy market

Check out our Energy Action Price Index

Energy Action’s Price Index (EAPI) provides clarity to the market encompassing pricing from energy retailers via the Australian Energy Exchange (AEX). You can find out more, click the link above.

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Every month, we release a newsletter with exclusive news articles on the industry and our business. You can keep up to date with the latest upcoming technology and tools to help you save on your energy bills by registering for our updates. To register, click the link above.