Towards zero waste to landfill

Astonishingly, 90% of all raw materials used in manufacturing become waste before the product leaves the factory, while 80% of products are thrown away within the first six months of their life.

The ‘take-make-dispose’ linear approach creates massive waste and does nothing for the planet’s emerging resource crunch.

The circular economy is one possible solution. It is restorative and regenerative by design, and it aims to keep products, components and materials at their highest utility and value, at all times. Sanitarium has been actively involved in circular economy forums and workshops, building our knowledge and networking with like-minded industry peers.

Most factories have made significant progress towards achieving zero waste to landfill by 2017, with overall diversion rates at around 90%; the remaining 10% represents 1,000-plus tonnes of waste. Some key initiatives due for completion in late 2016 should bring total diversion to around 97.5%.

Packaging improvements

Sanitarium continues as a signatory to the Australian Packaging Covenant (APC), and our APC Action Plan was graded 4.2 out of 5, up from 3.7 last year. Assessor comments included, ‘Well done on integrating sustainable packaging design into the design process,’ ‘Great work setting challenging targets and making significant efforts to achieve your goals.’

Waste water clean-up

In 2014 the Berkeley Vale factory upgraded its waste water treatment plant to include a Membrane Bioreactor (MBR) – a very fine filter that makes concentrated waste water much cleaner and easier to handle. This upgrade significantly increased Berkeley Vale’s feedwater volume into the recycled water plant, boosting treated water output by more than 25%. As a result, in 2015 we produced over 96ML of recycled water for use in the factory.

Business efficiency group

In August 2015, our Procurement teamestablished a Business Efficiency Group, working with Sanitarium’s manufacturing sites and suppliers to improve productivity, efficiency, waste reduction and quality. Some outcomes included a significant financial saving by glue reformulation and usage reduction; and reducing 500 pallet movements annually through a corrugated case specification review for beverages.

Brisbane factory

We installed a power factor correction unit in our Brisbane factory in February 2016, and are delighted to report that in the few months it has been operating, we have already saved thousands of dollars through greater power efficiency.

References

  1. Rubbish! Dirt on our Hands and Crisis Ahead, Richard Girling, Random House

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