October 1, 2009

Going green yields dividends

Time and money usually prevent smaller businesses from embarking on an environmental path

Time and money usually prevent smaller businesses from embarking on an environmental path. However, two Victorian businesses have found that going green offers both revenue returns and cost savings.

The bakery uses the waste heat from its refrigeration systems and redistributes heat recovered from freshly baked products. Rooftop rainwater tanks gather water for landscape irrigation and toilet flushing. Logistics also play a part. Delivery trucks leave at 5am, not 6.30am, avoiding traffic jams and saving fuel.

Remaining emissions are offset via tree planting. Future plans include doubling the rainwater catchment area and installing highly sophisticated filtration systems so the water can be used in food production.

The company has reduced its annual carbon footprint by more than 5,000 tonnes. “When this journey began we just wanted to build a bakery that would be able to stand the test of time. We also set out to get maximum bang for our bucks from energy,” explains co-director Ralph Plarre.

While the company has made major energy cost-savings from the new operation, the green credentials have also attracted franchisees. “The sort of person that looks at a franchise has more awareness of a business’s vision, and if a business has got a vision of the future then that’s a big tick,” says Plarre.

Vega Printing’s environmental journey was driven by the need for greater efficiencies, but also in part by the market. Print buyers purchasing on behalf of environmentally committed corporates were demanding green credentials from printers.

Vega gained IS0 140001 environmental management systems accreditation in 2006. It’s also accredited as a Forestry Stewardship Council chain of custody organisation and can use the logo on its products.

“For us it wasn’t getting another logo we could put on the back of our business cards, it was about trying to put a structure behind some of the things we were already doing,” explains commercial manager Rob Nugent.

Vega’s sustainable cost-savings include an energy-efficient lighting system that reduces greenhouse gas emissions and fluorescent lighting costs. A roof coating was installed that eliminates heat from entering the building, reducing the need for cooling, as was power factor correction, which cuts power usage and greenhouse gas emissions.

The company purchased ‘green’ presses and instigated a water saving program that recycles water used in the printing process. Paper, cardboard, plastic, film, wooden pallets, printing blankets, ink canisters, printing plates and office toner cartridges are recycled.