Australian organisations making significant commitments on World Environment Day

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Many businesses, governments and individuals joined the celebrations the World Environment Day with some businesses making significant announcements and commitments to make their businesses and operations more sustainable.

QBE

QBE Insurance Group announced it is committing to source 100% renewable electricity across its global operations by the end of 2025. QBE will source renewable electricity locally in each of its operating divisions or by purchasing renewable energy certificates to achieve the 100% goal.

“The shift to 100 per cent renewable electricity comes on top of QBE’s commitment to reduce overall energy use by 15 per cent by 2021 (from 2018 levels) and follows the company becoming carbon neutral in 2018,” said Pat Regan, QBE Insurance Group CEO.

“As an international insurer, with insurance products covering a diverse portfolio around the globe, we are acutely aware of the risks and opportunities that climate change presents for our customers and our business. This decision aligns with QBE’s support for the objectives of the Paris Agreement and our efforts to support the transition to a lower carbon economy.”

QBE is the first Australian headquartered insurance business to join RE100 global corporate leadership initiative bringing together 170 influential businesses committed to 100% renewable electricity and accelerating change towards zero carbon grids, at a global scale.

“As one of Australia’s largest insurance companies, QBE knows the financial risks of inaction on climate change. With the price of clean power continuing to fall, joining RE100 and committing to source 100% renewable electricity brings new business benefits and accelerates the shift to a clean economy – it’s a win-win.” said Sam Kimmins, Head of RE100, The Climate Group.

Woolworths

Woolworths announced that 100% of its supermarkets now have an active food waste diversion program in place in a bid to tackle the $20 billion food waste problem in Australia and its commitment to reduce food waste from going to landfill.

The waste diversion programs range from rescuing surplus fresh food and distributing it to hunger relief charity partners, donating stock feed to farmers or sending it for commercial organic composting. So far  Woolworths has recorded an average year-on-year reduction of 8 per cent in food waste sent to landfill over the past three years. In the last year alone, Woolworths has diverted from landfill over 55,000 tonnes of food and enabled over 10 million meals to be delivered to Australians in need across the country.

“Food is meant to be eaten, not thrown – which is why together with our customers, our farmers and our community partners, we’re working to keep good food out of landfill,” said Adrian Cullen, Head of Sustainability.

“Working with our partners OzHarvest, Foodbank and Fareshare to feed Australian’s who would otherwise go hungry is our number one priority when it comes to diverting food from our stores. We then work with local farmers so that surplus food, which cannot go to hunger relief, is used as stock feed for animals or for on-farm composting. This helps us further reduce and re-purpose bakery and produce waste.” he added.

UNSW

UNSW Sydney announced it will switch to 100 per cent renewable electricity and its buildings will be greenhouse gas emissions-free by 2020 as part of a new three-year plan to build on the University’s commitment to environmental sustainability.

These initiatives were part of the launch of the University’s Environmental Sustainability Plan (ESP) 2019-21, that out a strategic roadmap towards best practice in the higher education sector. As part of the plan the University will increase its onsite solar energy generation through the University’s world-first solar energy agreement, design new buildings to operate emissions free and introduce centralised waste collection in offices to save an estimated 1 million plastic liners annually.

“Our planet is currently facing a series of complex environmental challenges, from pollution of land and oceans to biodiversity loss and climate change,” said UNSW President and Vice-Chancellor Professor Ian Jacobs.

“UNSW is a major investor, consumer and landholder and our Sydney campuses form part of the daily lives of some 62,000 students and more than 6700 staff. The University has the scale of a small city, so it is right that we grow and invest like any sustainable city would, with a responsible and clear plan.”
In addition, UNSW has also committed to integrate best practice environmental, social and governance principles within investment activities by establishing a Responsible Investment Framework to invest in solutions to climate change and align its investment portfolio emissions intensity with the Paris Agreement commitments.

Further integration on the importance of the UN Sustainable Development Goals will be taken to classrooms, with the University developing a plan to educate its students on the importance of the SDGs.