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World Environment Day

There is no escaping climate change, it is happening. The 2020 State of the Climate report from CSIRO states that Australia’s average climate is continuing to warm, greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise (global CO2 average concentration is 410ppm) and the sea levels are rising faster than previously measured. Food wastage is also a big cause of environmental concern.

"A report by Food Innovation Australia Ltd states that food wastage accounts for approximately 3% of Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions."
State of the Climate report 2020

Food wastage in Australia also consumes approximately 2600 gigalitres of water to grow the wasted food.2 That is a lot of water being wasted.

For this World Environment Day, think about the world around you. From the everyday operational decisions made in your own industry, to the household of the consumer that you are targeting and ask yourself, are we doing enough?

There are many avenues where industries can make a shift towards environmentally sustainable decisions. They can choose to use raw materials that have lower impact on the environment. The raw materials might be readily biodegradable, or they might be sustainably sourced and have a reduced carbon footprint requirement to manufacture. Packaging is another area where the manufacturer can choose a more sustainable option. The demand for biodegradable/compostable packaging such as polylactic acid (PLA) is growing. For products that are not compatible with biodegradable packaging and still require traditional options, the manufacturer can investigate using packaging made from recycled plastics.

The consumer market is now pushing for an environmentally sustainable approach to both products and culture of a business. The industry will need to change to support the consumers’ needs and concerns. Some simple questions that the consumer might ask themselves are:

- Is the product purchased made from environmentally friendly materials?

- Does the manufacturer support environmental initiatives/charities to offset any carbon footprint that the product generates?

Households can also help the environment by reducing food wastage. This can be done by being more mindful of excessive buying or by efficiently using your freezer to store foods for longer. This will help ease pressure off our agriculture industry. Any scraps or food that is leftover can be used for compost. Being conscious not only extends to quantity of food, but how the food is presented. A few questions we can ask ourselves include:

- Does it come wrapped in plastic, cardboard?

- Is it recyclable?

- Do you separate your plastics or bring your own containers to the supermarket?

As a Research Scientist working for Dominant, I see many areas where the industry is moving towards an environmentally focussed mindset. Dominant has many environmentally conscious initiatives in place. From moving towards sourcing “green” raw materials, to being a signatory of the Australian Packaging Covenant (APCO), to installing solar panels to generate an estimated 42% of energy requirements. Dominant is always looking for new innovations to make our company more environmentally sustainable.

Whether in industry or your own household, you can make positive changes for the environment. Even the largest of journeys start with the smallest of steps. Think about what you are doing now for the environment and ask yourself, is it enough?

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