Does Sustainability Communications Have To Be So Boring?

In the earnest, fact-based world of sustainability communications there is no room for spin, but companies need to be brave enough to talk about failure, says PR agency boss Lou Hoffman. Companies hate talking about their failures, especially when it comes to sustainability. But being open about their weaknesses as well their achievements might help firms avoid one of the biggest corporate communications sins: being boring. This was the advice offered by public relations veteran Lou Hoffman, president and chief executive officer of San Jose-based global tech PR firm The Hoffman Agency, who for 30 years has managed the reputations of the likes of global business giants …

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Sense in Sustainability: the Changing Focus for Boards

Sustainability has become more than a trendy buzzword in business in the past few years as an increasing number of companies are putting it at the centre of their strategies. Boards are waking up to the fact that there is more to a sustainably run business than eco-friendly behaviour. They are seeing the broader picture and shifting to a business model that takes more responsibility for all stakeholders—including employees and supply chains—and focuses on efficient, cost-effective operational strategies that can help boost the bottom line. In the UN Global Compact–Accenture Strategy CEO Study carried out last year, 87% of global chief executives …

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Medical Waste to Produce Durable, Sustainable Concrete

The thousands of tonnes of plastic waste created each year in Australia through dialysis treatment could breathe new life into the construction industry, according to researchers at Deakin University. A team at Deakin’s School of Engineering is behind the new project, which aims to transform the single-use plastic used in the dialysis project into long-lasting sustainable concrete that could perform better than standard concrete. The project is a collaboration between Dr Riyadh Al-Ameri, a senior lecturer in structural engineering, Katherine Barraclough from the Royal Melbourne Hospital and John Agar from Barwon Health’s University Hospital Geelong. It came about when Dr Barraclough and Professor John …

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New Tech Could Turn Windows Into Solar Panels

See-through solar cells have been created which could turn windows into small-scale power plants. Researchers at Michigan State University have developed thin, transparent, plastic-like material that can act as an energy-generating coating on windows, and provide additional power when coupled with a rooftop solar installation. While the technology has existed in its early stages since 2015, it is only now developed enough for projects of scale. The technology works by utilising organic molecules within the transparent film that absorb ultraviolet and infrared lightwaves – which are invisible to the human eye – and converts them into electricity by directing these lightwaves to small photovoltaic cells at the edge …

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We Have a Collective Responsibility to Halve Food Loss and Waste

Despite the central role food plays in all of our lives, we let a great deal of it go to waste. About one-third of all food produced in the world goes uneaten each year—a fact that harms our climate, costs the global economy billions of dollars and strains natural resources like water and land. Given the enormous impacts, it’s clear why the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals issued Target 12.3’s call to halve food waste and reduce food losses by 2030. But with 13 short years to go, is the world doing enough? According to a new report from Champions 12.3, the …

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Bunch of Old Bananas or Building Materials of the Future?

Potatoes reborn as insulation, peanuts processed into partition boards and mushroom bricks that grow in five days – just some of the ways the building trade could change its wasteful ways and construct virtuous new cities. In a report released on Wednesday, international engineering firm Arup set out novel ways for an industry that devours raw materials to cut waste. “We need to move away from our ‘take, use, dispose’ mentality,” Guglielmo Carra, European lead for materials consulting at Arup, said in a statement. “What we need now is for the industry to come together to scale up this activity so that …

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Virgin Starts Brisbane Biofuel Trial

Brisbane airport will become one of the first airports in the world to use biofuel, with Virgin Australia trialling the sustainable fuel source. Virgin has partnered with US-based renewable fuel supplier Gevo Inc to supply “biojet” fuel to Virgin planes out of Brisbane for the next two years. Virgin Australia CEO John Borghetti said the airline wanted to test whether the renewable fuel was a viable alternative to straight jet fuel. “The project announced today is critical to testing the fuel supply chain infrastructure in Australia to ensure that Virgin and Brisbane Airport are ready for the commercial supply of …

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Plastic Bag Ban in Queensland Gets Green Light as Cash-for-Cans Scheme Introduced

Queensland shoppers will no longer be able to get plastic bags at the supermarket but will be able to cash in their cans and bottles under laws passed overnight. The ban on single-use plastic shopping bags, including degradable and biodegradable bags, will take effect from mid-next year. The bill was passed with bipartisan support, with the Opposition saying it had initially proposed the changes. Environment Minister Steven Miles said some retailers were proactively banning the supply of lightweight plastic shopping bags in advance of the ban. Retailers who flout the laws face up to a $3,000 fine. Designated container refund …

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Greening the Concrete Jungle: How to Make Environmentally Friendly Cement

Cement is the world’s most widely used material apart from water, largely because it is the key ingredient in concrete, the world’s favourite building material. But with cement’s success comes a huge amount of greenhouse emissions. For every tonne of cement produced in Australia, 0.82 tonnes of CO₂ is released. That might not sound like much, especially when compared with the 1.8 tonnes emitted in making a tonne of steel. But with a global production of more than 4 billion tonnes a year, cement accounts for about 8% of the world’s CO₂ emissions. The electricity and heat demands of cement production are responsible for …

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Germ-Zapping Plant Tackles Antarctic Waste

The Australian Antarctic Division has unveiled a wastewater cleaning plant that will help lessen the environmental impact of remote researchers. A million dollar germ-zapping machine will purify the wastewater of Australian researchers in Antarctica. Built in two shipping containers, the technology was unveiled in Hobart on Tuesday following a two-year trial. It will set sail this summer on icebreaker Aurora Australis en route to Davis research station. “Once installed, this will be the best treatment system in Antarctica,” Australian Antarctic Division engineer Michael Packer said. The plant puts kitchen and human wastewater through a process of ozone and ultraviolet disinfection, …

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