This award recognises outstanding new environmental technology, design or research.
Examples may include but are not limited to:
- cutting edge sustainable technology
- new industry practices, process, product or service
- ground-breaking research
- design of infrastructure
- improving the ability to use, store or save natural resources
- circular economy projects.
Plastic Forests: Unique Plastic Film Recycler
Finding new ways to recycle waste is a global priority.
However, it’s no good finding solutions that lead to their own problems, such as excessive water use.
Plastic Forests, a family-owned start-up is tackling one of our biggest environmental problems – plastic film waste. More than 40,000 tonnes of plastic film is disposed of each year in Australia.
Plastic Forests developed a dry-cleaning process to recycle highly contaminated plastic film, the first and only company in the world to achieve this commercially. Cleaning without water is a major benefit in a world without enough fresh supplies.
Waste plastic is now turned into resin, and is used for products such as cable covers, garden edging and root barriers.
In the last two years, Plastic Forests has diverted 1354 tonnes of plastic film from landfill.
Thanks to Plastic Forests, multinational companies that had no alternative but landfill or burning waste, are on their way to being ‘zero waste to landfill’.
City of Newcastle: Summerhill Solar Farm
City of Newcastle is proud of its progressive approach and leadership stance on sustainability through its own operations – and through the entire local government sector, where it leads by example.
All actions lead to Newcastle becoming a smart and innovative place to live.
Newcastle 2030 is a document that’s guiding the council to achieve a city that reflects its community’s values.
Ground-breaking projects include the Summerhill Solar Farm which is under construction and will help council achieve higher than a 50% renewable energy offset and save ratepayers millions over its life. It will pave the way for battery storage and charging council’s vehicle fleet, which is transitioning to electric.
In the meantime, energy saving is the key – upgrading council buildings and facilities with initiatives such as double-glazing windows and replacing light fittings with LED over the past two years, and helping businesses and households with energy efficiency and monitoring.
Rooftop Solar PV installations on key council properties including sportsgrounds, a library and a museum generating a combined total of over 205,000kWh annually and saving around 170 tonnes of CO2-emissions.
ClearSky Solar Investments
With a growing community passion for clean energy and sustainability, ClearSky Solar Investments takes an innovative approach to introducing solar power to small business.
This not-for-profit, volunteer run, social enterprise is dedicated to accelerating Australia's transition to 100% clean energy. ClearSky raises finance to fund the installation of solar PV systems on medium sized businesses – creating profitable investments for up to 20 small investors for each project.
More than $3 million has been raised to fund installations on 30 sites across the country resulting in lower energy costs for businesses and reduced carbon emissions.
Innovation also stems from bypassing energy retailers and commercial banks – and with more and more investors coming on board trust in the process is growing. In fact, potential investors are now one of the major sources of new business.
Sharing its IP model is another priority, helping other community energy groups expand and grow.
Woolpack Australia: Woolcool
With increasing concerns about single-use plastic, one answer to the problem of polystyrene packaging is Woolcool, created by Woolpack Australia.
Woolcool uses sheep belly wool, normally a waste product destined for landfill. Innovation stems from mimicking the way wool is used in housing insulation and applying it to packaging.
Since polystyrene packaging was invented in 1954, there has been no alternative that outperforms its thermal qualities, and not until Woolcool has there been an alternative that is also recyclable, sustainable, renewable, biodegradable and compostable, and suitable for Australian conditions and supply chains.
Independent scientific tests have demonstrated Woolcool keeps contents packed at 1°C chilled below 5°C for at least 24 hours.
The drive began when CEO Joanne Howarth was dealing with a mammoth amount of polystyrene coming into her fresh food business and then going to landfill – at considerable expense to her and the environment. During her quest to find a viable alternative, she found Woolcool, a UK product that she adapted for Australian conditions.
Woolpack is now solving other packaging dilemmas, including creating pallet covers ideal for transporting temperature sensitive goods in bulk.