Australia Post’s Andrew Sellick outlines the approach required by the company to help the nation transition to a circular economy.
As one of the many companies moving towards circular outcomes for its waste, Australia Post is increasing seeing the issue of sustainability cropping up in the agendas of policy makers and corporate strategists.
Its focus on delivering better social and commercial results for its customers led to the development of a 2017 report, Transitioning to a Circular Economy Insights from the Frontline.
With more than 11.9 million delivery points and 4000 post offices – emissions reduction, reuse and recycling and sustainable procurement are all crucial priorities for the company. Its robust logistics network covers 11.7 million addresses and almost 20,000 collection points, making Australia Post the country’s largest delivery network.
A sustainability plan is therefore integral to reducing its carbon footprint. Earlier this year, the company released its first Environmental Action Plan 2018-20, which sets lofty goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 25 per cent by 2020 and enable the reuse and recycling of 100,000 tonnes of material.
According to the plan, Australia Post has reduced its waste to landfill by more than 1000 tonnes to 9285 in 2017. In 2017, 4156 of its customer’s waste was recycled. To achieve its targets, the plan sets out 34 actions to ensure stakeholders are doing
For example, enabling its customers to reduce, reuse and recycle products and materials will involve reporting on the number of customers/marketplaces and tonnes of products and materials the company ships.
Australia Post also plans to monitor, measure and audit its sustainability programs to drive continued improvement in waste management and support cost efficiencies.
Another notable plan within the broader picture is the need to collaborate with government agencies, business and the community to progress climate, circular and sustainability outcomes.
Andrew Sellick, Head of Environmental Sustainability at Australia Post, says the push to a circular economy requires active participation from consumers and businesses.
“Both parties have to take the lead. However, the onus should be on the business to do so. Companies should be focusing on making it easy for consumers to participate in ways that don’t compromise on their experience,” Andrew says.
Andrew says that for example, Australia Post is part of Revamp, a collaborative forum established in 2016 to allow stakeholders to share ideas and participate in opportunities that help drive better circular outcomes. He says that to achieve the 2020 target, Australia Post will focus on the management of its own operational impacts.
Andrew says that most importantly, the focus will be on supporting its customers through partnerships which enable the reuse and recycling of products and materials, including eBay, Nespresso and Mobile Muster. Since 2016, the company has supported the diversion of more than 26,000 tonnes of material reuse.
When it comes with dealing with problem wastes, Andrew says the biggest challenge is navigating local regulations for how materials are dealt with at their end of life.
“For example, some states have pallet recycling solutions in place and other states don’t,” he says.
Because of the company’s scale, Andrew there is no one single solution for it to manage its waste.
He notes that packaging is a good example of one area where the company can make a difference.
“We’re also working to create packaging that is not only 100 per cent recyclable but packaging that is eventually 100 per cent reusable.”