Dr Forbes McGain and his sustainability colleague Catherine O’Shea explain some of the challenges surrounding the recyclability of medical waste in Australia.
This year’s Premiers Sustainability Awards has seen winners across a diverse range of categories, from medical recycling to the recovery of shellfish reefs and water recycling.
Hosted by comedian Charlie Pickering and presented by Victorian Government Environment Minister Lily D’Ambrosio, the awards recognise individuals, organisations and businesses working to create a better world.
In the area of waste management, The Nature Conservancy’s Shuck Don’t Chuck took out the Community category, while Western Health’s Single Use Metal Instruments Recycling Program was recognised in the Health category. Kingfield Galvanizing won the Small and Medium Enterprises category for the development of a large, automated galvanising plant with some of the lowest emissions of any similar plant in the souther hemisphere.
Melbourne company, eWater Systems, won the night’s top honour – the Premier’s Recognition Award – for developing water splitting technology which was used to clean and sanitise facilities such as hospitals, schools, manufacturing businesses and restaurants chemical free.
Sustainability Victoria’s interim Chief Executive, Stephanie Ziersch, said the Premier’s Sustainability Awards recognised Victorians who had made a difference to the environment by implementing measures to better manage their waste, water and energy.
“Victoria has an excellent track record of delivering innovative projects that benefit our environment and the community, particularly in relation to efficient waste management, resource recovery and new technologies for clean energy.”
The 2017 Victorian Premier’s Sustainability Awards winners are:
Nightingale Housing – Nightingale 1 (Brunswick)
The Nightingale model is a new housing development system that enables like-minded architects to develop design-led, multi-residential housing that is environmentally, financially and socially sustainable.
The Nature Conservancy Australia – Shuck Don’t Chuck Recycling Project (Greater Geelong)
A reef restoration project that is regenerating the natural environment by rebuilding shellfish reefs with leftover oyster shells collected from local seafood restaurants.
CERES – Sustainability and Alternative Pathways (East Brunswick)
This sustainability leader celebrates 35 years of community-based learning and action. CERES’ work aims to benefit the environment, remain socially just, economically and culturally satisfying and helps to deliver better ways of living together.
Friends of the Earth – Coal and Gas Free Victoria (Collingwood)
An awareness campaign run across regional Victoria through more than 100 forums alerts communities to the potential threat of fracking and addresses the question of unconventional gas drilling.
Moonlit Sanctuary Wildlife Conservation Park – Orange-bellied Parrot Breeding for Recovery Program (Mornington Peninsula)
Development of a 20-aviary complex for up to 40 breeding birds resulted in 25 offspring from 12 pairs in the first season. This project is helping to save this endangered species from extinction.
Moreland City Council – Moreland Urban Heat Island Effect Action Plan (Moreland)
The council’s 2016–2026 maps out vital projects needed for Moreland to transition to a cooler, greener and more resilient and liveable city.
Western Health – Single Use Metal Instruments Recycling Program (St Albans)
This program recycles single-use metal instruments (SUMIs) which a waste of high-quality metals. The program has recovered around 500kgs of recycled steel, representing approximately 80 per cent of all SUMIs purchased. This project can be used in any hospital.
Innovative Products or Services
eWater Systems – eWater Systems (South Yarra)
eWater Systems is a world-recognised company that has developed a water-splitting technology that is used to clean and sanitise facilities like hospitals, schools, manufacturing businesses and restaurants.
Exemplar Health (NBH) Partnership – New Bendigo Hospital (Bendigo)
Victoria’s largest regional hospital integrates sustainable thinking into all elements of its design, construction and systems to create a healing and therapeutic environment.
Small and Medium Enterprises
Kingfield Galvanizing – Sustainable Hot Dip Galvanizer (Somerton)
A large, sustainable and highly automated galvanizing plant produces significantly low emissions through a fully enclosed facility that re-uses waste, reclaims furnace heat and recycles.
Pictured: Catherine O’Shea, Sustainability Officer, Western Health, Victorian Government Environment Minister Lily D’Ambrosio, Andrew McGavin, Operations Manager Engineering Services, Western Health,
The Premier’s Sustainability Awards finalists have been detailed with a range of diversion from landfill projects, from waste to energy to medical and water recycling.
The winners from 10 categories will be announced at the awards ceremony on October 26, along with two overall winners selected by the Premier of Victoria in two categories. These include the Premier’s Regional Recognition Award for a finalist who has demonstrated notable benefits for regional Victoria and the Premier’s Recognition Award for a winner who showcases exemplary innovation and determination in overcoming obstacles in sustainability.
The 29 finalists come from a diverse range of backgrounds, and include:
- Enable Social Enterprises – Greener Futures Employability Program
A social enterprise program which provides employability skills programs that enables disadvantaged jobseekers to connect with community, improving their employment prospects and community cohesion. One of enable’s businesses is in eWaste.
- Soap Aid – Hotel to Hands Soap Recycling Program
A partnership with Rotary that collects, sorts, cleans and reprocesses discarded hotel soap and produces fresh, hygienic bars of soap for re-distribution to poor, disadvantaged communities around the world and remote Indigenous communities.
- Yarra Valley Water – Waste to energy facility
A waste to energy facility that saves food waste and processes it into biogas via anaerobic digestion, with plans to divert 33,000 tonnes of waste per year from landfill and power two treatment plants.
- Epworth Hospital Richmond – Perioperative services going green
A range of initiatives aims to address the excessive production of waste materials by ensuring reduced use of materials, reusing materials and recycling.
- Western Health – Single use metal instruments recycling program
Replicable program that recycles the hospital’s single-use metal instruments (SUMIs) – equating to approximately 500kgs of recycled steel, and representing 80 per cent of all SUMIs purchased.
- eWater Systems – Water recycling
eWater Systems has developed a ‘water-splitting’ technology used to clean and sanitise environments and facilities such as hospitals, schools, manufacturing businesses and restaurants.
- Sustainable Salons Australia – Beauty waste
A comprehensive resource recovery program that collects up to 95 per cent of waste from hundreds of hairdressing and beauty salons, then redirects all material for reuse, recycling and repurposing.
- TIC Mattress Recycling – Mattress recycling
Automated mattress recycling technology which addresses the growing problem of more than one million mattresses that go to landfill each year in Australia.
Featured image: Rebecca Pascoe, Nurse at Epworth Richmond Operating Theatres, shows off the hospital’s PVC and aluminium canister recycling program.
The Victorian Government has announced the finalists for the Premier’s Sustainability Awards.
This year’s finalists included a campaign to save the orange-bellied parrot, a project that regenerates shellfish reefs using leftover oyster shells from a local restaurant, and a highly automated steel galvanising plant that produces significantly low emissions.
The winners from 10 categories will be announced at the awards ceremony on October 26, along with two overall winners selected by the Premier of Victoria in the following categories:
- Premier’s Regional Recognition Award for a finalist who has demonstrated notable benefits for regional Victoria and
- Premier’s Recognition Award for a winner who showcases exemplary innovation and determination in overcoming obstacles in sustainability.
The state government is working to reduce Victoria’s greenhouse gas emissions by 15 to 20 per cent by 2020, and achieve net zero emissions by 2050.
This year it unveiled a $146 million Renewable Energy Action Plan, aimed at delivering more renewable, affordable and reliable energy for Victorians.