Shortage of Environmental Health Officers Points to Rise of Climate Health Impacts

MARKET PULSE: There’s a big shortage of environmental health officers in Australia with Central Queensland University graduates quick to find 100 per cent placement. The reason why there is a shortage does not make for happy holiday reading, but it does make for critically important and urgent thinking.

Australia needs to train more environmental health officers to cope with the increased prevalence of disasters and disease outbreaks due to climate change, say leaders in the field.

Environmental Health Australia national vice president Philip Swain said research undertaken back in the 1980s into climate change and its impact is now coming to fruition.

“It’s amazing how accurate some of those predictions have been,” he said. “We’re already seeing that happen with mosquito-borne disease. The spread of Barmah Forest [virus], Ross River virus and to a lesser extent Murray Valley encephalitis in Australia is a classic case of something that has been influenced by climate change.

“It’s come across the top of Australia and now Barmah Forest and Ross River virus are endemic through Western Australia, right throughout the south west – that just didn’t exist 30 years ago. There was no such thing as Ross River Virus in WA. And that sort of thing is undoubtedly going to get worse.”

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Central Queensland University environmental health academic Dr Lisa Bricknell said with rising temperatures, there’ll be more health problems linked to environmental conditions, including more food-borne illnesses like salmonella and larger mosquito-breeding zones, leading to dengue, Ross River and Zika virus.

“In addition, we’re having more frequent natural events leading to disasters, and environmental health officers (EHOs) have an important role in both prevention and recovery.”

Concern is mounting as local and state government departments struggle to find enough qualified environmental health officers (EHOs). In fact, global jobs site Indeed recently revealed that positions for environmental health officers are actually the hardest roles to fill in Australia.

While trained EHOs had been coming from Ireland, changes to the skilled migrant visa has halted the flow of graduates arriving from Dublin University. In addition, many EHOs are retiring.

Dr Bricknell said most of the shortages are at the local government level.

“They’ll advertise and quite often people will move from one local government to another and then that will still obviously leave a gap somewhere,” she said. “Quite often they are in regional and remote areas.

“They might not be the one going out and spreading insecticide but they are certainly going to be the one keeping an eye on breeding areas,” she said. “If you don’t have an EHO to keep an eye on the breeding areas you end up with more cases of – potentially in the northern climes – dengue fever.”

And the Zika virus is causing bigger concerns

The Zika virus is also a major concern.

“If it got into our mosquito population, we could have an issue with that,” she said.

Mr Swain agreed that regional and remote locations were struggling to fill positions.

“Some of that is tyranny of distance because you’re asking people to do work over vast areas,” he said.

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Mr Swain, who is based in Perth, works on a contractual basis for the Shire of Ngaanyatjarraku, covering millions of hectares of Aboriginal land in Western Australia. He goes out in the field for eight to 10 days and does his office-based work from Perth.

This is not a typical model and he says regional areas are finding it difficult to fill roles because of contractions in local government and an inability to offer competitive packages with housing and motor vehicles.

Mr Swain noted that half the top 10 hardest roles to fill in Australia were health or allied health professions. He believes the federal government needs to contribute more funding to training.

“To me, that’s quite telling that those positions are hard to fill because there’s not enough people to fill them – the reason there’s not enough people available to fill them is because they’re difficult and expensive professions to train people to do.

“If I have a personal criticism about the way the way niche professions are being supplied in Australia, it’s about the university sector and how it’s being forced into essentially providing courses that make money.

“Applied science-based courses where you have to put a small group of students into laboratories to learn are not profitable for universities. Putting 200 people into a lecture theatre is profitable.”

Rockhampton pioneers a cadetship program to help with shortages

According to Dr Bricknell, collaboration between local government and universities is going some way to addressing the shortage. For example, Rockhampton Regional Council pioneered a cadetship program.

“They have found it very difficult over the years to recruit environmental health staff,” she said. “They came to us and said, ‘If you guys are willing to do a degree, we’d like to talk about hiring cadets and actually putting them through part-time while they work with us.’

“Now Rockhampton have been doing that for quite a number of years and it’s extremely successful.

“That ‘grow your own’ thing is something we’re really trying to work with councils on. Consider finding someone who looks like a good candidate locally, put them on as a trainee or a cadet, and then put them through university with us. You’re likely to find someone who’ll stay.”

Increasing the profile of the profession among school leavers is also important.

“It’s a profession that people don’t know very much about, but the potential for employment is really high,” Dr Bricknell said.

Degree programs struggling

This lack of awareness means the degree programs are struggling.

“Tasmania is in the process of losing their degree; there’s no undergraduate degree in South Australia anymore,” she said.

NSW and Victoria both have one accredited degree, while WA has one undergraduate degree and one postgraduate degree. Queensland is spoiled for choice with both Griffith University and the University of Sunshine Coast offering on-campus degrees and Central Queensland University offering on-campus degrees in Cairns, Townsville, Rockhampton and Bundaberg, as well as off-campus degrees.

The demand for EHOs is proving lucrative for CQUniversity graduates, who have a 100 per cent employment record within their first 12 months after graduation.


Source: The Fifth Estate

Australia Post Installs Record-Breaking Solar Panel Power System

Australia Post has installed the nation’s largest single-roof solar panel system at its Chullora sorting centre in Sydney.

The $3 million project will subsequently power Australia’s busiest parcel sorting facility. This will save more than $800,000 in annual energy costs.

The record-breaking project also spans more than 11,000 square metres, the same area as nine Olympic swimming pools.

The 2.1 MW installation will save 2,200 tonnes of carbon emissions each year. This is like taking 468 cars off the road.

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Solar panel system: the jewel in Australia Post’s crown

The solar-powered facility is the 49th solar-powered site in the Australia Post network.

Taken together, the commercial solar systems will generate 5,000 MWh of renewable energy each year. This is enough to power more than 820,000 homes.

According to Australia Post Group Chief Financial Officer Janelle Hopkins, the Chullora project will also reduce operational costs.

This will subsequently mean more investment in “the products and services our customers want from Australia Post”, Ms Hopkins adds.

Australia Post is committed to energy efficiency with “environmentally sustainable business outcomes”. Previous energy-saving investments have saved the company $40 million.

The Chullora installation reached completion in November 2017. The full solar system is due to go live by the end of the year.

Energy Matters helps drive Australia Post solar innovation

In 2010, Energy Matters designed and installed a solar power system for Australia Post’s new headquarters in Bourke Street, Melbourne. Energy Matters Project Manager Hugh Murtagh designed the system.

The rooftop system was designed to power the building’s signage. The goal was obtaining maximum output for minimum available roof space.

The sign used around 24 kW hours of energy and the new system offset 12 tonnes of CO2 annually. This is the amount produced by 12 postie bikes over the same time frame.

Mr Murtagh selected 30 Sanyo 210 Watt solar panels for high efficiency, as well as a Sunny Mini Central 6000TL inverter.


Source: Energy Matters

Yes SA’s Battery is Massive, But It Can Do Much More Than Store Energy

The “world’s largest” lithium-ion battery has been officially opened in South Australia. Tesla’s much-anticipated “mega battery” made the “100 days or it’s free” deadline, after a week of testing and commissioning.

Unsurprisingly, the project has attracted a lot of attention, both in Australia and abroad. This is largely courtesy of high-profile Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk, not to mention the series of Twitter exchanges that sparked off the project in the first place.

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Many are now watching on in anticipation to see what impact the battery has on the SA electricity market, and whether it could be a gamechanger nationally.

The Hornsdale Power Reserve

The “mega-battery” complex is officially called the Hornsdale Power Reserve. It sits alongside the Hornsdale Wind Farm and has been constructed in partnership with the SA Government and Neoen, the French renewable energy company that owns the wind farm.

The battery has a total generation capacity of 100 megawatts, and 129 megawatt-hours of energy storage. This has been described as “capable of powering 50,000 homes”, providing 1 hour and 18 minutes of storage or, more controversially, 2.5 minutes of storage.

At first blush, some of these numbers might sound reasonable. But they don’t actually reflect a major role the battery will play, nor the physical capability of the battery itself.

What can the battery do?

The battery complex can be thought of as two systems. First there is a component with 70MW of output capacity that has been contracted to the SA Government.

This is reported to provide grid stability and system security, and designed only to have about 10 minutes of storage.

The second part could be thought of as having 30MW of output capacity, but three to four hours of storage.

Even though this component has a smaller capacity (MW), it has much more storage (MWh) and can provide energy for much longer. This component will participate in the competitive part of the market, and should firm up the wind power produced by the wind farm.

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Frequency Control and Ancillary Service Market

The Frequency Control and Ancillary Service (FCAS) market is less known and understood than the energy market. In fact it is wrong to talk of a single FCAS market — there are actually eight distinct markets.

The role of these markets is essentially twofold. First, they provide contingency reserves in case of a major disturbance, such as a large coal generation unit tripping off. The services provide a rapid response to a sudden fall (or rise) in grid frequency.

At the moment, these contingency services operate on three different timescales: six seconds, 60 seconds, and five minutes. Generators that offer these services must be able to raise (or reduce) their output to respond to an incident within these time frames.

The Hornsdale Power Reserve is more than capable of participating in these six markets.

The final two markets are known as regulation services (again, as both a raise and lower). For this service, the Australian energy market operator (AEMO) issues dispatch instructions on a fine timescale (four seconds) to “regulate” the frequency and keep supply and demand in balance.

The future: fast frequency response?

Large synchronous generators (such as coal plants) have traditionally provided frequency control, (through the FCAS markets), and another service, inertia — essentially for free. As these power plants leave the system, there may be a need for another service to maintain power system security.

One such service is so-called “fast frequency response” (FFR). While not a direct replacement, it can reduce the need for physical inertia. This is conceptually similar to the contingency services described above, but might occur at the timescale of tens to hundreds of milliseconds, rather than six seconds.

The Australian Energy Market Commission is currently going through the process of potentially introducing a fast frequency response market. In the meantime, obligations on transmission companies are expected to ensure a minimum amount of inertia or similar services (such as fast frequency response).

I suspect that the 70MW portion of the new Tesla battery is designed to provide exactly this fast frequency response.

Size matters but role matters more

The South Australian battery is truly a historic moment for both South Australia, and for Australia’s future energy security.

While the size of the battery might be decried as being small in the context of the National Energy Market, it is important to remember its capabilities and role. It may well be a gamechanger, by delivering services not previously provided by wind and solar PV.

Source: The Conversation


The War on Waste: A Big Win

Peppermint Magazine released an exclusive interview with ABC’s War on Waste following the shows widespread success, and their achievement of winning a prestigious Banksia Award.

The ABC’s War on Waste hit a resounding high note with the Australian population – reigniting the waste debate and getting people well and truly fired up about the issues it covered. As recent winners of a Banksia Sustainability Award (and having just released an update to the original three-show series), we caught up with programme maker Jodi Boylan and host Craig Reucassel to find out what they thought of the show’s success, and how we can all keep fighting the good fight against waste.

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Jodi, what inspired you guys to make the show? And why do you think it was so successful? 

Our parent company made a similar show with chef and campaigner Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall that really resonated with a British audience, and we knew it would have a similar impact in Australia. We knew Craig would present the facts in an entertaining and light way, and it was accessible and achievable – people were able to make genuine changes to their lives after watching the show, and it didn’t have to cost them any money

What have been some tangible outcomes from the show? And the less measurable ones? 

The major supermarkets announcing they would phase out the single use grey plastic bags is one – the states of Queensland, Western Australia and Victoria have all committed to a statewide ban. Less measurable would be changes the audience have made personally within their homes and individual businesses. It would be interesting to do a national survey to measure the changes people have implemented and if it’s affected the recycling rates.

What does winning the Banksia award mean to you? 

It’s the highest sustainability honour in Australia, and not something we ever expected as a TV show and production company! We’re overwhelmed by the acknowledgement by the people and companies in the sustainability community.

And Craig, why do you think the show was such a hit? 

“I think a lot of Australians are keen to do better when it comes to their waste, but didn’t know how to do it, or were working with the wrong information – and I was one of them.”

So where can we take the show’s legacy from here?

I’ve been thrilled to see people not only changing their own behaviour, but also putting pressure on businesses and governments to change theirs too. There are lots of amazing people in Australia working on new technologies or trying new ways to solve waste problems, and I hope the renewed interest in waste helps these ideas get out.

Future Office Trends: Wellness, Urban Farms and No Cars

Only 16 per cent of workers expect they’ll be driving themselves to work in 2030, according to new research by real estate services firm JLL, opening the door to widespread adaptive reuse of basement car parking, which could see urban farms sprout up all over cities.

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Based on 260 survey respondents collected at TEDxSydney, the company has created The Human Revolution report, looking at how we envisage the future of offices in 2030.

Currently 66 per cent of Australian’s get to work by car, though respondents predicted that big increases in ridesharing, public transport and autonomous vehicles (AVs) would cut back that statistic dramatically, with flow-on effects for car parking.

“That presents new challenges in how best to adapt these spaces, with possible solutions including urban farming, sleep pods, exercise studios or even into warehouse-style residential conversions,” the report said.

Twenty-nine per cent of those surveyed expected to be using AVs to get to work, 33 per cent said they’d use public transport, and 40 per cent anticipated to be walking or cycling.

The report said the figures affirmed that developers need to be building with a view to adaptive reuse.

“Given the pace of change companies need to plan for disruption by designing spaces with repurpose in mind.

“As people shift to autonomous vehicles and active transport modes, the demand for car parks will be lower but their low ceiling heights and lack of natural light make them impractical for conversion to office space. Owners and developers need to consider the adaptive reuse potential of car parks.”

JLL head of property and asset management – Australia Richard Fennell said urban farming could be a winner from the transport shift.

“Urban farming is a growing phenomenon where food is cultivated, processed and distributed in or around a village, town or city,” he said.

“An urban farm could be created in a building’s redundant car park and the produce used to service local kitchens and cafes within that proximity. Urban farming is yet to be embraced by mainstream property companies, no doubt due to the traditional concepts of value and property best use, but we believe this could change.”

It’s not only JLL thinking this way. The winning concept of The Fifth Estate’s Visit Tomorrowland event competition was the adaptive reuse of a car park, featuring community gardens, a bar and an event space.

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Wellness on the up

As highlighted in our recent ebook, Healthy Offices: Why Wellness is the New Green, wellness is also expected to be a huge trend, with respondents rating an increased focus on physical and mental wellbeing as one of the biggest impacts on the way people will work in 2030.

The report said that tech companies were leading the charge when it came to workplace design, and that companies could incorporate simple design elements to improve worker wellbeing and productivity.

“These design elements may include green walls and plants, windows and skylights to let in natural light, bike storage, internal stairs, sit-stand desks, integrated technology, communal and collaborative spaces such as lounges and cafés, quiet spaces and chill out areas, as well as furniture that can be easily reconfigured.”

By 2030, most people surveyed expected to be spending their working lives in co-working spaces.

“Design of buildings is changing because of the uses desired by the people using them,” Mr Fennell said.

“They want precincts and communities that provide human connections and wellness taken into account in the design.”

The report said developers and investors needed to put community at the centre of office developments if they wanted to remain successful.

“Developers and investors have embraced placemaking as a potential differentiator with commercial and retail assets now expected to do more than just meet workplace and retail needs of customers,” the report said.

“It’s imperative that owners and managers of property work hard with retailers, tenants, customers and the community to establish their assets as genuine public space.”


Source: The Fifth Estate

Blog Series: The Most Popular ‘Green’ Jobs: Head of Environmental Sustainability

Change is sweeping the mainstream global economy. There is a noticeable increase in social interest regarding environmental and sustainability issues, resulting in a positive shift within business practices. Companies are now making corporate social responsibility (CSR) charters part of their framework, as people demonstrate their desire to work for, or purchase from, businesses who offer a high level of transparency. This has led to an evolution of environmental and sustainability orientated roles, creating diverse and in-demand positions.

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We’ve put together this blog series to help break down the most popular ‘green’ jobs of the moment; along with some real-world advice from industry professionals on how to land ‘that ideal’ role. Right at the top of our list for the past year is: Head of Environmental Sustainability.

What’s involved?

As the lead for environmental sustainability within an organisation, this position is responsible for the development, management and implementation of a company’s sustainability strategy and agenda. Central to this role is a deep understanding of environmental or social impacts of current business practices to ensure organisations are working towards finding new, innovative and economically reductive ways to stay green, as well as manage environmental risks. A key focus of this role is to demonstrate that your company is making a measurable difference to the triple bottom line.

Typical job duties include:

  • Effectively implementing and communicating changes; not only creating strategies for a greener workplace, but communicating this to internal and external stakeholders.
  • Measuring a company’s sustainability performance.
  • Procurement decisions. Working with suppliers to drive joint standards and values across supply chain practices.
  • Community and employee engagement.
  • Analysis and efficiency improvement, particularly with waste and energy.


How do I get there?

Each role brings with it unique requirements depending on the specific industry, level of seniority or the nature of the work. Some general requirements that translate over a number of sectors are:

  • A relevant tertiary degree; Eg. Environmental Sciences, Environmental Engineering, Environmental Sustainability or Business. Post Graduate studies are also desirable.
  • Commercial acumen and the ability to develop a business case for projects
  • Strong written and verbal communication skills
  • Exceptional stakeholder engagement skills


Going beyond the theory, Talent Nation wanted to know what it was like firsthand to be employed in such a role. We spoke to Andrew Sellick, Head of Environmental Sustainability at Australia Post. We asked him some of the most common questions we often get from candidates in regard to sustainability roles of this nature.

Why do you do what you do?

“I lead a small but high performing team that helps drive improved business value for the Australia Post Group by helping the organisation understand and then manage the environmental sustainability risks and opportunities. Everything we do creates a better and more sustainable business, whether that is by reducing operational costs, better managing risk, engaging our people and customers or driving new revenue. That opportunity to find new and innovative ways to have a positive impact is why I do what I do.”

What does a typical day look like for you?

“Primarily it’s working with different parts of the organisation to implement our strategically aligned projects – that could be working with our Group Property team to complete the business case for our next solar installation, testing new and more sustainable packaging materials, working with a customer to use our parcels network to achieve their circular economy objectives or integrating environmental considerations into our business processes such as business case review, risk management or procurement decisions.

However, we need to be reactive to the constant stream of request we get from our customers and business. We are increasingly being asked by our customers to demonstrate our commitment and performance, so we are working more and more on improving our customers understanding of how we work and importantly the results we have achieved.”

Describe your pathway into this role. What did you study?

“I studied Aerospace Engineering at University, something that led to my first roles being safety related in the Airline Industry.  This included being an Air Safety Investigator.

My first environmental role was in the Environment Department at Qantas looking at the impacts of aircraft, at the time primarily aircraft noise and engine emissions such as NOx etc. Needless to say, over the next 10 years I was able to witness firsthand the broadening and evolution of environmental sustainability within organisations from being purely compliance focused to an area that contributed added value to the business. Over the period I also completed postgraduate management studies which have been invaluable.”

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What advice do you have for graduates that are aspiring to be a Head of Environmental Sustainability? 

“Two key capabilities that are essential for Corporate Sustainability professionals are having a commercial mindset and the ability to influence. The more you can hone these skills the more impactful you will be.”

As experts in environmental and sustainability recruitment, when we place a great candidate in such a role, we can see firsthand how this role is hugely rewarding.  Even though this type of job can progress your career, the ability to contribute to a sustainable future is something that translates over many positions and sectors.

Check out the other roles we’re currently recruiting for here, contact one of our team, or connect with us on LinkedIn.

Healthier Diet Leads To a Healthier Environment, Study Shows

So, you want to reduce your carbon footprint? You might consider improving your diet.

It turns out that healthy eating isn’t just good for your body, it can also lessen your impact on the environment.

Scientists say that food production including growing crops, raising livestock, fishing and transporting all that food to our plates is responsible for 20 percent to 30 percent of total global greenhouse gas emissions.

In addition, 33 percent of the ice-free land on our planet is being used to grow our food, researchers say.

But altering our diets could change that.

A new study published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science USA (PNAS) found that if citizens in 28 high-income nations such as the United States, Germany and Japan actually followed the dietary recommendations of their respective governments, greenhouse gases related to the production of the food they eat would fall by 13 percent to 25 percent.

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At the same time, the amount of land it takes to produce that food could drop by as much as 17 percent.

“At least in high-income countries, a healthier diet leads to a healthier environment,” said Paul Behrens, an environmental scientist at Leiden University in the Netherlands who led the work. “It’s win-win.”

To come to this conclusion, Behrens turned to Exiobase, a massive input-output database that represents the entire world economy. It allowed him to track not only the environmental cost of growing and raising the various types of food we consume, but also the cost of the machinery involved in the production of that food, and the cost of getting it into our supermarkets and eventually onto our plates.

The database also takes into account that some countries are more efficient at producing food than others. For example, growing tomatoes in England takes more energy than growing them in Spain, where it is warmer. Similarly, a steak from a grain-fed cow in England has a smaller environmental footprint than one from a grass-fed cow in Australia.

“It’s superb that we have this information,” Behrens said. “You can trace the impact of any consumption across the world.”

For this study, Behrens gathered data on the average diets of people living in 39 countries as well as the dietary recommendations put out by governments in those countries. To make sure the results represented the recommended ways of eating and not just eating less, he kept the calorie counts of both diets the same, and only altered the percentage of the different food groups that people actually eat, and how much their governments suggest they eat.

Next, he fed those data points into Exiobase and compared the outcome.

Specifically, he looked at three ways the environment is affected by our diets – greenhouse gas emissions, land use and eutrofication, which is the addition of nutrients to water sources that can lead to toxic algae blooms and lack of oxygen in the water. Eutrofication is usually caused by the discharge of animal waste (dung) and plant fertiliser.

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The results were far from uniform, but in broad strokes, he found that the wealthiest countries would lower their environmental impact if their citizens followed nationally recommended diets, primarily because most of these recommendations call for a significant reduction in the amount of meat citizens consume.

“In general, meat is worse than other types of food because every time something eats something else, you get a loss of energy,” Behrens said. “Eating any animal is going to have more of an impact compared to other food groups.”

Poorer countries such as India and Indonesia would see their environmental impact go up, mostly because the nationally recommended diets call for more calories than many citizens consume in those countries.

Still, the overall effect, if everyone followed nationally recommended diets, would be a decrease in greenhouse gases, eutrofication and land use, he said.

A few countries, including Britain, Switzerland and China, have acknowledged that their dietary recommendations will also help create a healthier Earth, but that message is rarely conveyed to citizens, Behrens said.

He thinks it’s a lost opportunity.

“Dietary recommendations can be a great way to talk about human health and the health of the environment,” he said. “The main point is you can win both ways.”


Source: Good Food

Originally in Los Angeles Times

Five Steps To Turn Back The Tide of Plastic

The ABC’s War on Waste is looking at ways of combatting the huge and growing problem of plastic pollution in our oceans.

Ocean plastic is a huge problem for several reasons. Fish, marine mammals, and birds are  often injured or trapped by stray plastic. They also consume waste plastic, causing toxins from plastics to make their way up the food chain into our food, or an animal may die from ingesting too much plastic. The University of Queensland recently surveyed a local turtle population and found one in three turtles had eaten plastic.

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Many people are surprised to find that nurdles (the small beads used as the base material for making plastic products) are also a major source of ocean pollution. As they are transported around the world they often spill from ships, trucks and containers into waterways and the wider environment.

Similarly plastic micro-beads, found in many cosmetics products, are a big problem and are being phased out by the USA and New Zealand, with pressure for Australia to follow.

Once in the ocean plastic breaks down into smaller and smaller particles, making it impossible for fish and animals to avoid or distinguish from food, or to be collected and removed from the water.

How You Can Help Turn Back The Tide

Reduce Use

Wherever possible reduce your use of plastic. Begin small:

  • Switch to re-usable shopping bags
  • Carry a re-useable coffee cup
  • Shop at bulk stores to avoid plastic packaging


Recycle Right

When you do end up with plastic items and materials recycle them whenever you can. Good recycling programs keep plastic out of landfill and the environment.


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Pick It Up

Litter is one of the biggest sources of ocean plastic. Littered items are washed down rivers and drains directly into the ocean. So when you’re at the beach, walking the dog or heading to work, if you see it on the ground pick it up. You can also:


Dispose of it Well

Don’t add to the problem. When you’re out and about take your litter home with you, and recycle what you can as suggested above., or place in a bin. Keep in mind:

  • Cigarette butts are one of the biggest litter pollutants, take them home or put in the bin
  • Overflowing bins are a big issue, material blows away or gets scattered by animals and ends up as polluntants. Don’t add to an already overflowing bin, take it home.


Lobby for Change

Your personal actions are part of the solution but to really deal with this issue governments and companies need to make changes. You can help create this change.

  • Support groups like the Boomerang Alliance which is working towards container deposit schemes in all states of Australia. These schemes help reduce litter.
  • Support the Beat the Bead program which is working to get companies to drop the use of microbeads in cosmetics and other products.


Source: Planet Ark

Jobs Growth in Supply Chain, Perth Picking Up and Others Rushing To Hire

Talent Nation’s own Richard Evans chats to The Fifth Estate about the surge in demand for expertise in safeguarding human rights in the supply chain, as well as the roles we’re currently recruiting for in the environmental and sustainability space.

Article by Sandra Edmunds

MARKET PULSE: Expertise in safeguarding human rights in the supply chain is experiencing a surge in demand, according to Deloitte, which recently boosted its capability through the integration of Leeora Black’s Australian Centre for Corporate Social Responsibility into its risk advisory business and reputation risk and sustainability practice.

Dr Black’s team of four takes Deloitte’s national resilience sustainability practice to about 50 team members.

Risk advisory partner and Asia Pacific sustainability leader Paul Dobson said, with the Australian Modern Slavery Act likely to come into force next year, there will be growth in opportunities around social licence across the board.

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“There’s increased appetite for organisations to look into human rights,” he said. “It’s across multiple sectors – with property there’s increased demand – but it’s across the board and that’s part of why [ACCSR’s] Leeora [Black] joined us is to respond to that demand across multiple client sectors and enhance our credibility and get it across to more of our clients.”

Dr Leeora Black established the Melbourne-based ACCSR in 2003 and is globally recognised as a corporate social responsibility and sustainability expert.

“We’ve seen demand increasing in the property sector,” she said. ACCSR has worked in the sector for more than 10 years in the areas of social strategy, social sustainability strategy and reporting.

“But over the last couple of years we’ve started to see that broaden significantly and property development companies are now talking to us about social licence to operate and they’re also talking to us about human rights due diligence.

“We are having more and more conversations and getting more and more requests for proposals on these issues.”

Australian Supply Chain Sustainability School is on the hunt

Sustainable recruitment agency Talent Nation managing director Richard Evans echoes these sentiments. He’s working with the Australian Supply Chain Sustainability School on a new role to grow its membership base.

“There’s a huge amount of interest in the work they are doing from the member organisations and certainly the success in the UK,” he said. “It’s a really good indication that there’s a lot of growth coming for them.”

With modern slavery legislation imminent, it’s a hot topic for business.

“It’s certainly on the horizon for a lot of organisations, trying to work out what happens there,” he said.

Dr Black’s team recently completed a review for a major property development company looking at various commodity supply chains and helping them to identify where the major risks were and how to place some controls around them.

“We know that the construction industry is one of the high-risk sectors for human rights problems in the supply chain,” Dr Black said. “Where does the cement come from? Where do the tiles come from? Where does the timber come from? Were people or the environment damaged in some way in the production of the various components that go into a property development?” she asked. “Also the forthcoming Modern Slavery Act will apply to operations as well as supply chains so we need to look at labour supply chains not just product supply chains.

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“We expect to see ongoing work in the area of strategy and reporting but increasing amounts of work in the area of human rights in the supply chain and social licence work.”

The proposed Australian Modern Slavery Act, modelled on the UK’s laws, will compel large companies to report annually on their efforts to safeguard supply chains from slavery. It’s likely that companies with more than $100 million in annual turnover will be obliged to make “slavery statements”.

“That is going to apply to approximately 2000 organisations and then that works its way through the supply chain so every organisation of any large size will have to consider and answer questions internally which means they may need assistance in the area,” Mr Dobson said.

To prepare for the increased workload, Deloitte has boosted its national resilience sustainability practice with Dr Black’s team of four and now has about 50 team members.

“We are looking to grow that,” Mr Dobson said. “We don’t just put numbers in terms of heads but we are looking to grow definitely in the short to middle term – that’s the whole reason why Leeora’s joined us because we have growth aspirations.”

Mr Dobson said demand was coming from across the board in terms of geographic region.

“The larger markets are in Sydney and Melbourne, the east coast primarily but there’s also opportunity in the west and we do a lot of work in the west.”

While industries such as mining and financial services have been grabbling with these issues for a decade, other industries are newer in their approach.

“The type of growth we are looking at is broader than the property development industry and I think the main reason we are seeing increased demand for sustainability and corporate responsibility services is that boards and senior management teams have got the memo,” Dr Black said.

“They understand the relevance and the risk attached to these issues in a way they were not five or 10 years ago. They have increased their sophistication and their understanding very much at the behest of investors who are demanding this type of thinking and long-term approach to risk management. It’s really being driven by corporate Australia.”

Mr Dobson said corporate social responsibility was not a “nice to have”, “bolt on” or “after thought” but crucial for success. “We’re all about helping our clients respond to the challenges and opportunities that they have and bring the right combination of skills to that across sustainability and CSR.”

According to Dr Black, the expanded team brings global, leading-edge expertise in the area of social licence to operate. “To the extent of my awareness – obviously I can’t know everything about what the other companies are doing – we have a great competitive advantage with that.”

Last minute rush to hire before Christmas

Talent Nation is experiencing a busy period as the year draws to a close and is seeing more jobs activity particularly in Perth.

“It certainly feels buoyant out there,” said managing director Richard Evans.

“There’s this period now pre-Christmas where clients realise they need to act, so any roles that have been on the backburner for the last month or so, it’s almost reaching decision point where they have to do something about it,” he said. “If they don’t do something now, they are talking March/April before they get someone into the role.”

The agency has just filled a couple of roles in responsible investment and is working with the Australian Council of Recyclers to find a new chief executive officer. The agency has an environment and sustainability manager role in the energy space in Melbourne, a group sustainability manager for a resource company in Sydney, and a global environment lead for a chemical company based in Melbourne.

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Perth bounces back and tier two in demand

“We are seeing a lot more activity happening in Perth as well,” Mr Evans said. “It certainly feels like there’s a bit of a resurgence happening over there – some infrastructure projects coming off and a bit more activity.”

Second tier engineers in demand

Mr Evans said second tier engineering and civil contractors are more in demand. “The tier ones, they’re focussed on the major infrastructure projects and that’s really opening up the market for the tier twos – for the slightly smaller projects – the $100million to $200 million projects. If you look at the tier one they are working on projects at $500 million and above and not really addressing anything beneath that.”

Cultural fit has become a key requirement. “Certainly more emphasis is being placed on that by clients,” Mr Evans said. “So they want the technical capability but then the ability to gel with the team and to really have that cultural fit is getting a lot more focus these days.”


Source: The Fifth Estate

What’s The Net Cost of Using Renewables to Hit Australia’s Climate Target? Nothing

Australia can meet its 2030 greenhouse emissions target at zero net cost, according to our analysis of a range of options for the National Electricity Market.

Our modelling shows that renewable energy can help hit Australia’s emissions reduction target of 26-28% below 2005 levels by 2030 effectively for free. This is because the cost of electricity from new-build wind and solar will be cheaper than replacing old fossil fuel generators with new ones.

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Currently, Australia is installing about 3 gigawatts (GW) per year of wind and solar photovoltaics (PV). This is fast enough to exceed 50% renewables in the electricity grid by 2030. It’s also fast enough to meet Australia’s entire carbon reduction target, as agreed at the 2015 Paris climate summit.

Encouragingly, the rapidly declining cost of wind and solar PV electricity means that the net cost of meeting the Paris target is roughly zero. This is because electricity from new-build wind and PV will be cheaper than from new-build coal generators; cheaper than existing gas generators; and indeed cheaper than the average wholesale price in the entire National Electricity Market, which is currently A$70-100 per megawatt-hour.

Cheapest option

Electricity from new-build wind in Australia currently costs around A$60 per MWh, while PV power costs about A$70 per MWh.

During the 2020s these prices are likely to fall still further – to below A$50 per MWh, judging by the lower-priced contracts being signed around the world, such as in Abu Dhabi, Mexico, India and Chile.

In our research, published today, we modelled the all-in cost of electricity under three different scenarios:

  • Renewables: replacement of enough old coal generators by renewables to meet Australia’s Paris climate target
  • Gas: premature retirement of most existing coal plant and replacement by new gas generators to meet the Paris target. Note that gas is uncompetitive at current prices, and this scenario would require a large increase in gas use, pushing up prices still further.
  • Status quo: replacement of retiring coal generators with supercritical coal. Note that this scenario fails to meet the Paris target by a wide margin, despite having a similar cost to the renewables scenario described above, even though our modelling uses a low coal power station price.

Balancing a renewable energy grid

The cost of renewables includes both the cost of energy and the cost of balancing the grid to maintain reliability. This balancing act involves using energy storage, stronger interstate high-voltage power lines, and the cost of renewable energy “spillage” on windy, sunny days when the energy stores are full.

The current cost of hourly balancing of the National Electricity Market (NEM) is low because the renewable energy fraction is small. It remains low (less than A$7 per MWh) until the renewable energy fraction rises above three-quarters.

The renewable energy fraction in 2020 will be about one-quarter, which leaves plenty of room for growth before balancing costs become significant.

The proposed Snowy 2.0 pumped hydro project would have a power generation capacity of 2GW and energy storage of 350GWh. This could provide half of the new storage capacity required to balance the NEM up to a renewable energy fraction of two-thirds.

The new storage needed over and above Snowy 2.0 is 2GW of power with 12GWh of storage (enough to provide six hours of demand). This could come from a mix of pumped hydro, batteries and demand management.

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Stability and reliability

Most of Australia’s fossil fuel generators will reach the end of their technical lifetimes within 20 years. In our “renewables” scenario detailed above, five coal-fired power stations would be retired early, by an average of five years. In contrast, meeting the Paris targets by substituting gas for coal requires 10 coal stations to close early, by an average of 11 years.

Under the renewables scenario, the grid will still be highly reliable. That’s because it will have a diverse mix of generators: PV (26GW), wind (24GW), coal (9GW), gas (5GW), pumped hydro storage (5GW) and existing hydro and bioenergy (8GW). Many of these assets can be used in ways that help to deliver other services that are vital for grid stability, such as spinning reserve and voltage management.

Because a renewable electricity system comprises thousands of small generators spread over a million square kilometres, sudden shocks to the electricity system from generator failure, such as occur regularly with ageing large coal generators, are unlikely.

Neither does cloudy or calm weather cause shocks, because weather is predictable and a given weather system can take several days to move over the Australian continent. Strengthened interstate interconnections (part of the cost of balancing) reduce the impact of transmission failure, which was the prime cause of the 2016 South Australian blackout.

Since 2015, Australia has tripled the annual deployment rate of new wind and PV generation capacity. Continuing at this rate until 2030 will let us meet our entire Paris carbon target in the electricity sector, all while replacing retiring coal generators, maintaining high grid stability, and stabilising electricity prices.


Source: The Conversation