Australian Laboratories Going Green

Australian Laboratories Going Green

In one of our recent social media posts in October, we shared the news about the first Australian laboratory being certified as “green”. The Hill Laboratory at La Trobe University´s Institute of Molecular Science, became the first Aussie lab to receive certification from My Green Lab, a US-based not for profit aimed at improving the sustainability of scientific research.

The article mentions that laboratories use 10 times more energy and four times more water than conventional offices, and many products used for research are single-use only and come densely packed, which obviously result in a large amount of plastic waste.

In order to achieve the certification, La Trobe had applied several measures, including: 

  • Recycling all soft plastic wrapping, styrofoam, hard plastics and e-waste used in genomic testing;
  • Introducing more energy-efficient, heated metal bead baths instead of water baths for keeping samples warm in experiments;
  • Changing habits to reduce electricity use, including turning off machines not in use and installing outlet timers;
  • Introducing protocols to reduce or eliminate harmful chemicals used in experiments;
  • Installing low flow aerators on taps as well as energy-efficient lighting;
  • Using a more energy-efficient freezer and cutting back on the number of freezers cooling to -80 degrees Celsius.

When looking at these actions what are your first thoughts that come to mind? Are they realistic goals for every lab?

We definitely celebrate this amazing initiative from The Hill Laboratory to go in this direction, and we can agree that none of these actions seems unachievable for most Australian laboratories.

However, the consideration for further improvement, particularly in terms of Capital Equipment and Asset Management could add significantly greater value and is usually under-represented or considered with regards to ‘’waste’’ or sustainability. Since our area of expertise is in Circular Asset Management for laboratories, we understand that labs have massive scope for improvement in this area.

The manufacture of new assets for the industry every year implies tonnes and tonnes of new raw materials, including plastics from fossil fuels, metals, and millions of liters of water and toxins. This system that uses and replaces assets quickly also generates an incredible amount of waste, with us seeing first hand tonnes of laboratory equipment sent to disposal each year even when they are in perfectly usable condition.

This is just not viable anymore, and it is important to consider this aspect of sustainability when doing these certifications or corporate sustainability reports.

At (L)ove (U)r (P)lanet we take a long-term and holistic approach that is an Australian first and doesn’t exist anywhere else in the global market. We ourselves are not a marketplace in that we understand the need to change the approach to life cycle management from the outset in not just being reactive and looking at your assets at the end of the asset life.

Whilst much grant funding and research in more mainstream Circular Economy modelling focuses on rewarding the re-use, recycling or re-manufacturing of products or assets, at LUP we try to partner with all the stakeholders involved at the initial outset of considering a new Capital Equipment purchase. We partner strategically with all our network members to try to assist them throughout their assets life.

By collaborating with the key stakeholders involved in the life cycles of that asset, including the Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM), the initial equipment Buyer, to incorporating a network of Service Partners (where the OEM is unable to focus on supporting the equipment in it’s subsequent lives), to finally transitioning the traditional ‘disposal mindset’ of Capital Equipment Buyers to become ‘’Sellers’’ of their equipment at the end of their time with that asset. This way, when the initial Buyer is looking to procure an asset, through LUP they are able to consider the entire life cycle of that asset at the outset, thereby understanding the importance of retaining the maximum value throughout it’s life.

In this way, we enable a sustainable CAPEX process, not only increasing the value of assets on Balance sheets, but reducing risks across company supply chains by ensuring assets are better maintained throughout their life within organisations as well as capturing the optimal residual value once the equipment is no longer required by them.

For second tiered buyers who are able to procure under-utilised equipment, savings in excess of over 60% for good quality laboratory or manufacturing equipment has enabled greater access to resources for start-up laboratories or testing new markets, not to mention keeping valuable equipment out of landfill. We have seen countless instances of laboratories just requiring equipment for one-off purchases, or incorrectly purchased equipment, or not having the test volumes to do the inhouse testing after purchasing and thus continuing to outsource the testing. Thus, not only is partly or fully utilised equipment ending up often in landfill, but equipment that has barely been utilised at all.

So if you are ready to take the leap to the next phase of sustainable evolution, have an even bigger impact on our planet, significantly reduce Procurement costs whilst accessing a viable alternative to the disposal of your under-utilised assets, contact us today to become part of one the fastest growing networks of Circular change makers. Not only can you become more ‘green’ in terms of your operations and operational costs such as The Hill Laboratory has demonstrated, but we will be able to assist you in maximizing your sustainability impact for your capital equipment and the life and value of the assets within your organisation.

Welcome to the (L)ove (U)r (P)lanet family…

Written by Felipe Soraires, edited by Noreen Kam

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Circular Economy Business Innovation Centre (CEBIC) Featured Interview

Circular Economy Business Innovation Centre (CEBIC) Featured Interview

GUEST EXPERT: EMILY JONES, PROGRAM OFFICER – VICTORIA GOVERNMENT CEBIC

This year Sustainability Victoria launched CEBIC, the Circular Economy Business Innovation Centre. We were fortunate enough to sit down & interview Emily Jones, (Acting Program Officer Business Innovation | Regions & Partnerships), to discuss the CEBIC & the exciting growing focus on Circular Economies within our local communities.

Emily is a circular economy pioneer with a passion for supporting businesses to innovate and transition towards a resilient, circular economy. She is an alumni of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s global From Linear To Circular program and currently advises on the Victorian Government’s Circular Economy Business Innovation Centre (CEBIC).  The CEBIC seeks to support business and industry to innovate, adopt, and implement circular economy opportunities and business models.

LUP: Thanks for sitting down with us today Emily.

Emily: Thanks so much for having me! It’s great to reconnect with LUP Global after having Noreen speak at our Melbourne Knowledge Week event earlier this year.

LUP: Could you please advise why CEBIC was established and what your main mission is?

Emily: We know that businesses will play a pivotal role over the next decade in transitioning our economy to one that is more circular and regenerative. The Circular Economy Business Innovation Centre (CEBIC) was established by the Victorian Government under the Recycling Victoria policy to support and empower Victorian businesses to take circular action.
This the main mission of the CEBIC and we are achieving it by:
 bringing together businesses, industry bodies, research organisations, governments, and communities to collaborate and respond to innovation challenges

 fostering innovation projects across supply chains to reduce waste, increase re-use and repair
and generate new streams of revenue for business
 encouraging investment and leverage Victoria’s design and engineering expertise
 partnering with other organisations that are also supporting businesses to transition to align
efforts

LUP: What type of businesses can access CEBIC support and how?

Emily: The CEBIC is for businesses large and small, across all industries, who are ready to take action to become circular.We have a variety of options for support including:
 Thought-leadership events that bring together a panel of experts to discuss opportunities across the circular economy (such as our Melbourne Knowledge Week event that we had Noreen speak at).
 Industry workshops and roundtables to bring together stakeholders to identify barriers and solutions to overcome them.
 Publication of research and insights.
 Funding programs that allow businesses to act and scale up innovative circular initiatives.
 One to one chats available for businesses with a rep from CEBIC.

To get involved, businesses can start with a visit to the CEBIC Virtual Hub where they can subscribe to receive news and updates of opportunities within the Victorian Circular Economy.
https://www.cebic.vic.gov.au/

What´s on the agenda for the next 6-12 months and how can we at (L)ove (U)r (P)lanet an our broader network help?

Emily: Over the next 6-12 months we will be continuing to focus our efforts on enabling circular innovation and collaboration across industries and supply chains. The LUP network can play a big role in this. If you have an idea for your industry, intel to share or simply want to introduce yourself reach out to us at https://www.cebic.vic.gov.au/about-us/contact-us.

While we focus on all industries, each financial year we appoint a focus area that allows us to direct resources to focus efforts on waste reduction and materials efficiency in that industry. For 21-22, our focus is enabling a circular textiles economy.

More about CEBIC and how to get involved can be found here: https://www.cebic.vic.gov.au/about-us

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Circular Economy in Africa – An update (1st part)

Circular Economy in Africa – An update (1st part)

Image Credit: Hidden Flows Photo Showcase

About the Author – Peter Desmond MA(Oxon) MA FCA MBA

Peter Desmond is a Chartered Accountant and MBA graduate bringing a broad commercial perspective to his work on the circular economy. Using his experience from 40 years as a strategic advisor, coach, trainer and senior finance executive, he now supports SMEs and corporates in the UK and Africa in getting started and developing their circular economy journeys. 

Peter is a Circular Economy Club Mentor and Strategic Circular Economy Adviser with Rethink Global.  He has an MA (Distinction) in Globalisation, Business and Development from the Institute of Development Studies at the University of Sussex in the UK. His dissertation: “Towards a circular economy in South Africa – what are the constraints to recycling mobile phones?” enabled him to uncover the ways in which circular approaches benefit developing economies.

Following his graduation in 2016, he returned to South Africa to co-found, with a group of his dissertation interviewees, the African Circular Economy Network

Peter can be contacted at: peter.desmond@acen.africa 

LUP: It’s a pleasure to have you as a guest again with us after some time. Our last conversation was in October 2019, some months before the pandemic started. Our previous discussion around the ”Circular Economy Challenges and Opportunities in Africa” was our highest ever viewed guest interview & still is to this day. So we thought our network would appreciate an update on what’s happening in the Circular Economy in Africa now that the world is completely different. What are your first thoughts about this, specifically how do you think COVID has impacted Africa & the Circular Economy in general?

Peter: It’s a pleasure to be interviewed again, almost two years on. Yes, the world is in a very different place now compared to the first time, and not just from COVID. In the last two years the climate crisis has received much more attention in the world’s press, particularly as the UK is hosting the upcoming COP26 in Glasgow in November 2021. We are seeing many more extreme weather events which are disproportionately affecting low-income countries, particularly in Africa. 

At ACEN we are seeing an increasing interest in the circular economy (CE) as a potential solution to reducing carbon emissions both on the biological and technical side as well as providing opportunities for creating and retaining value in African countries where resource extraction has previously been the primary focus. 

COVID-19 has forced us to look at an approach to recovery which requires concentrating on resilience. The pandemic has revealed the vulnerability of global systems to protect the environment, health and economy, with long-term impacts. The African continent needs policies that are aligned with circular principles by stimulating value creation and economic sustainability. This will create new green jobs and opportunities for corporates and entrepreneurs on the continent in regenerative agriculture and energy efficiencies.  

The United Nations tells us that a global green COVID-19 recovery could significantly reduce carbon dioxide emissions in 2030 by up to 25 per cent and boost the chances of keeping temperature rise to below 2°C by up to 66%. Yet Global North countries have fallen short in their commitments to build back better after the COVID-19 pandemic in their own countries and the amount of climate finance that has been promised to countries in the Global South. 

Image Credit: Paul Currie

 

LUP: How do you see the responses from Governments and businesses in Africa vs Europe (global south/global north) towards the transition to a CE now? Do you see similarities/differences in the approach they are having?

Peter: The European Green Deal is a set of policy initiatives by the European Commission to review more than 50 European laws and policies in order to make Europe climate neutral in 2050. It will look at ways to achieve greater sustainability in eight policy areas: biodiversity, food systems, agriculture, clean energy, buildings and mobility. One of the key building blocks is the new Circular Economy Action Plan which aims to reduce pressure on natural resources and create sustainable growth and jobs. It will focus on how products are designed, circular economy processes, sustainable consumption, and aims to ensure that waste is prevented and the resources used are kept in the EU economy for as long as possible.

This will have implications for governments and businesses in African countries, particularly those which have strong co-operation relationships with Europe. This was highlighted in three country reports (Rwanda, Kenya and Morocco) that ACEN authored as part of a research project for the European Commission on CE in Africa. Modelling in the continental report published as part of the same project suggests that circular measures in priority sectors could lead to positive GDP and employment outcomes for the African economy. By 2030, Africa’s combined GDP is projected to be around 2.2% higher in the CE scenario than in a business-as-usual situation. Total employment in 2030 could be 2.7% higher than in a business-as-usual projection, or approximately 11 million additional jobs, which could reduce Africa’s unemployment from 94 million by 12% to around 83 million.

Virtually all African countries have implemented at least one policy which relates to the circular economy. Examples are roadmaps, climate change policies, Extended Producer Responsibility, waste management and recycling. However, regulation enforcement and implementation varies hugely between countries as well as the degree to which the private sector is a significant actor in driving CE developments. Areas of priority for the transition to a circular economy in Africa are agriculture & food, construction, electronics, plastics & packaging and waste management as well as textiles in some countries.

A just transition to a circular economy in Africa needs to be built on inclusiveness, equity and equality to attract greater participation towards a common objective as well as taking account of local contexts. For businesses in Africa, particularly those in global supply chains, CE will increasingly be seen as an opportunity to consider new business models as part of longer-term sustainability and growth plans. The establishment of an enabling platform for entrepreneurs and new business models is essential for the acceleration of the transition to CE in Africa.

For the original interview with Peter back in 2019, click HERE .

For part two of the interview click HERE.

 

 

 

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Circular Economy in Africa – An Update (2nd part)

Circular Economy in Africa – An Update (2nd part)

Image Credit: Katumba Badru Hidden Flows Photo Showcase

LUP: What’s been happening with ACEN? Has COVID affected the work that ACEN is doing? When we last spoke, you mentioned ACEN was now planning the 1st Pan African Circular Economy Conference to take place in 2021. Is this still happening?

Peter: As you can imagine, since my first interview, the circular economy has gained a lot more attention globally. We are also seeing a great deal of interest in how circular principles can benefit the development of African countries through greater international co-operation and support. This has been seen in the positive responses we have received from ACEN’s participation in writing of 8 country reports and a continental report on EU-Africa co-operation for the European Commission.

The level of ACEN’s activity in this space has increased in the last 12 months as international funds are more available for CE projects. COVID has had an impact how we work as face-to-face meetings have often been difficult to achieve. Online meeting platforms have helped considerably and reduced travel costs, but in Africa personal contact is an important element of how research and implementation are undertaken.

We are now involved in several projects as part of consortia bidding for competitive tenders such as Horizon 2020 funding as well as invitations to lead or contribute to research projects. These include policy development for circular food systems, circular entrepreneur incubation and scoping studies for circular business platforms in two African countries.

ACEN has recently signed a co-operation agreement with partners in Portugal (CECOLAB) and Brazil (Exchange 4 Change) as part of a South / South / North collaboration initiative to facilitate interaction on circular economy between Europe, Latin America and Africa. The aim is to share knowledge between the Global South and Global North to create opportunities for spurring innovation and making the transition more equitable by creating green jobs and lowering environmental impacts. The increasingly worldwide development of CE is the establishment of The Global Alliance on Circular Economy and Resource Efficiency

There are some exciting developments in the work that ACEN is doing with universities and learning institutions across the continent. We now have an Academic Programme in place which comprises the African CE Research Group and a working group developing CE curriculum for students and training material for business. 

ACEN Foundation:  https://acenfoundation.org/

A significant initiative in ACEN’s development has been the establishment of the ACEN Foundation in partnership with Trinomics, a Dutch sustainability consultancy, with whom we worked on the European Commission reports. The Foundation works across Africa to implement circular strategies and projects, enhance capacity amongst practitioners in the private and public sector, fundraise for the delivery of projects, and support entrepreneurs to develop unique circular business models. This collaboration will produce a greater impact than would be possible by each organisation working separately.

You asked about the Africa Circular conference. We still have ambitions! With the arrival of COVID we have had to postpone our plans for a single Pan-African in-person event. We are considering the idea of a series of workshops to be organised by our Country Chapters with the support of governments and businesses. As regards a continent-wide conference, it is possible that the World Circular Economy Forum will be held in Africa at some point in the future; we are in discussion with the organising team at SITRA as to how ACEN can collaborate in the organisation of the conference. 

LUP: In this new global landscape, how can businesses or individuals best get involved in Circular Economies in general, and more specifically with an organisation such as ACEN?

Peter: There are many ways of engaging in the subject of the circular economy. Catherine Weetman at Rethink Global produces “The Circular Economy Podcast” and has recently published the second edition of her book “A Circular Economy Handbook” The Ellen MacArthur Foundation website provides a huge amount of resources. Finally, here is a suggestion for those just starting in exploring the subject: “Circular Economy for Dummies”.

Anyone interested in being involved or supporting ACEN’s work can take a look on our website at our new Membership Programme. If anyone reading this is based in Africa and have a professional interest in applying circularity in their work, they can apply to become a Country Representative or a Chapter Member. If their organisation or academic institution wishes to contribute to our work, there are separate categories for each. Otherwise, there are two categories for individuals (Friend of ACEN) and students who wish to be kept informed about ACEN’s work through newsletters and events. We also have LinkedIn and Facebook groups that people can join to share ideas and projects.

ACEN is action focussed and so we continue to explore opportunities for collaboration to develop and implement projects on the ground. A good example of this is the initiative established by Footprints Africa to research circular case studies – report and map created for us by a UNEP partner, GRID-Arendal. If anyone would like to add a circular case study from Africa to the database, they can do so via this link. 

Photo at Suame Magazine, Kumasi, Ghana – repair of cocoa trucks in the:  https://asantemanweb.com/suame-magazine-in-the-ermerging-ghana-automotive-industry/

LUP: Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Peter: Yes, I just wanted to note that circularity has been practised across Africa for generations, to a large extent out of necessity. This image is of cocoa trucks being repaired at the Suame Magazine hub in Kumasi, Ghana where replacements were not available and spare parts were manufactured. The area is made up of 12,000 small scale engineering industries, repair works, scrap yards, workshops with a working population of about 200,000 supporting the livelihood of over 600,000 people. We also conscious that 

Higher income countries have much to learn from indigenous practices in Africa which are regenerative and restorative in nature and contribute towards circular thinking. In Europe and North America we focus on measuring success through a very blunt instrument called GDP (Gross Domestic Product) yet it says nothing about people’s well-being. In fact, the word ‘economy’ comes from the Greek word ‘oikonomia’ which means ‘household management’. The word ‘wealth’ comes from the Middle English meaning ‘well-being’. So rather than expecting countries to achieve continuous GDP growth, we should be focusing on ways to ensure the ongoing health and well-being of individuals within the limits of our planet’s resources – along the lines of Kate Raworth’s Doughnut Economics.

 

Thank-you so much for your generosity Peter, we are delighted to have you continuing to help us learn through your experiences about this shared passion!

To contact Peter and ACEN:  

peter.desmond@acen.africa  

www.acen.africa

Read the first part of the interview HERE.

For the original interview with Peter back in 2019 click HERE .

 

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LUP Global at Melbourne Knowledge Week 2021

LUP Global at Melbourne Knowledge Week 2021

We are delighted to share that LUP Global was fortunate to be invited to partake in this year’s Melbourne Knowledge Week event ”Smart & Circular” on 29th April 2021. The event was organized by Sustainability Victoria, Planet Ark & the City of Melbourne.

Our participation took place during an expert panel discussion titled ”SMART AND CIRCULAR: Learn about the potency of data and technology to cut waste and enable circular economy business models”, with other inspiring guest panelists, including:

Lachlan Feggans – Brambles

Marjon Wind – Madaster

Mark Mitchell – SuperCool

Hosted by Jodie Bricout, one of Australia’s leading Circular Economies experts, our Founder & CEO, Noreen Kam, discussed how LUP uses data as a foundation to enable our exclusive Circular Asset Database to maximise the value of under-utilized assets and avoid sending valuable equipment to landfill.

A Circular Economy needs more events like this, creating ecosystems where governments, businesses, organisations, and people adopt circular practices to create a world where nothing goes to waste. Melbourne has plenty of pioneers fostering a culture of collaboration with like-minded businesess, and we are proud of this great achievement!

Take a look at this video from the event HERE.

 

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Branding for Impact for Social Enterprises

Branding for Impact for Social Enterprises

We recently had the chance to work with Branding Consultant Lee Whitfield. Lee has worked in the USA, Europe and Asia but now lives in Melbourne, Australia. While he has worked for some of the world’s largest corporations, Lee focuses on social enterprises and how organisations are able to better market & ‘brand’ themselves for greater social impact. We were fortunate to sit down with Lee today for this guest interview, and wanted to share some of his insights for how your organisation can build a more socially responsible & conscious brand.

LUP: Thank-you for sitting down with us today Lee.

LEE: My pleasure. Thank you for having me over to do this interview. Following the Covid rules of course! I’m always happy to share my experience and knowledge with anyone looking to make a positive impact. Also, I would like to say, that I really like what you are doing at LUP Global. I think it is a signpost to the future and something every company should be embracing. 

LUP: Thank-you Lee, you are most kind!

Please tell us more about why it is important for companies today to not only focus on social outcomes but to have ‘brands’ that can clearly embody this?

LEE: I work with lots of businesses that really struggle to find points of difference from their competitors. While I can create some lovely Brand Communication for them, this on its own isn’t really enough to make them preferential or stand out. To ensure their products get chosen over the competition, it’s important to go deeper and an add more substance to what they are doing, such as adding social & environmental outcomes. Aligning a company with a not for profit organisation, an ethical cause or simply switching to more sustainable materials/ingredients provides a really compelling reason to pick one Brand over another.

Everyone likes to buy things from “the good guys” (Not the company!) We want to feel we are spending our money, not just on a good product, but also that we are supporting a good person or company. That’s how companies with positive social & environmental outcomes really win out, especially when there is lots of competition.

So there really are a lot of benefits but what is important is that customers believe a company is genuinely committed to the cause.

LUP: You mentioned whilst reviewing the branding for LUP, that being “genuinely committed” is important and unfortunately greenwashing can be common, in particular for large corporates for example, in order to just get a social ‘tick of approval’. Can you please clarify what you mean by ‘Greenwashing’?

LEE: Yes, this is super important. Customers need to be confident that it’s not just a marketing gimmick. Simply claiming to be “green” or as we call it “greenwashing” is a very common practice now. There are lots of companies claiming to support positive social & environmental outcomes but in truth are doing the complete opposite. So making sure that those outcomes are genuine and authentic really matters. 

The trick is putting these activities front and centre of the Brand. Sharing these activities on social media, at point of sale, on websites and anywhere the Brand meets customers. Also to do it in quantifiable and tangible ways that are demonstrable and measurable. Shifting Brand communication activities away from special offers and competitions, that often are simply Brand awareness activities anyway, to positive social and environmental outcomes is what is needed. That is also better for the perceived value of the Brand too. 

LUP: If you had 3 main take-aways for an organisation looking at how to better market or brand themselves in order to make the greatest social impact, what would they be?

LEE: 1 -Be real, be genuine. Either; pick a social outcome that is close to the business owners’ heart, or align with the companies’ activities, or pick something employees deeply care about. Look for the negatives in what the company does. If it’s a carbon intensive company then plant trees. If it’s a coffee shop then think about where that coffee comes from and what you could do in that region for the local people or environment.

2- Pick something ALL the company can get involved with. Pick something that everyone will want to champion and be proud of. Really good social and environmental outcome projects can lift the spirits of all employees and make them feel good about coming to work each day. Just raising money and giving it away does not have the same impact. Lots of studies show that working in a soup kitchen for the homeless has much more value and leaves a longer lasting impression than simply writing cheques.  

3- Take real tangible action that is demonstrable and measurable. Bank Australia has created a Wildlife Refuge in Victoria. It’s very real. You can go there and see it. They can talk about the wildlife that is retiring to the area in their Brand communication. They can show how biodiversity is returning, how the area is greening. While most companies can’t afford to do this they can apply the same ideas on a smaller scale. Pick projects that will give you ongoing content for social media and Brand communication.

LUP: Thanks so much for your time today Lee, great insights & if anyone wants to find out more or get in touch with Lee, you can contact him at: www.melbournebranding.com 

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