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Victorian sustainability awards help grow reach and support waste minimisation

Victorian residents are being encouraged to enter the Victorian Premier’s Sustainability Awards as previous winners recognise the awards as helping them build better customer and community relationships.

Winners and finalists from previous years have accredited the awards to helping them lead better staff morale, improve profiling with their customers and build stronger community relationships.

Last year’s winner of the Premier’s Recognition Award was Yume Food – an online platform that connects producers of quality surplus food with buyers. The platform enables food suppliers, such as manufacturers, to sell their products at a discount to commercial buyers in the food service industry comprising caterers, wholesalers, restaurants, hotels and event centres.

Yume won three awards in total, including Innovative Products or Services and the Small and Medium Enterprises categories.

The company has diverted almost 850,000 kilograms of food from landfill, it has saved 1,682,000kgs of CO2, it’s also saved 58 million litres of water and more than 23,000kgs of food has been donated to rescue organisations.

Yume’s Founder and CEO, Katy Barfield, said the organisation is asked to enter a lot of awards’ programs and the Premier’s Sustainability Awards program was one of the more appealing ones.

“One of the reasons we go for a small amount of awards is because as a start-up we have limited bandwidth and put our energy towards awards that will further our mission of creating a world without waste,” Barfield said.

“One of the best results for us has been the recognition. Through our hard work and acknowledgement of programs like this, we have a respected voice in media.

“I’m often asked to speak at conferences and other industry events. It gives us a great opportunity to spread the word even further,” she said.

Barfield explained that the awards recognise innovations emerging out of Victoria and they provided Yume Foods with an audience in front of government.

She advised others to put forward nominations and enjoy the benefits of the evening such as networking with important stakeholders, as Yume was able to connect to IKEA the previous year.

“Enjoy the night because it can be a hard road being in this space and the opportunity to celebrate are few at times.”

Recent research by Sustainability Victoria indicated that entrants demonstrated increased energy efficiencies and reduced bills through their sustainability projects.

The array of historical entrants has comprised councils, government organisations, not-for-profits and businesses across categories such as innovative products and services, environmental protection, government and health.

Many of these organisations document their sustainability performance as part of their standard operations, so developing an entry can be a streamlined process.

Last year, the Department of Justice and Regulation was a finalist in the government category, after developing a Recycle, Reuse, Donate Woodwork Program for offenders serving community correction orders. The program was established as an environmentally sustainable project that contributes to waste avoidance, while teaching offenders valuable new skills and creating an avenue for them to give back to the local community.

IKEA Richmond won the Large Business category after conducting a refurbishment of its store and rebuilding its showroom, installing a café and improving its in-store navigation, leading to about 85 per cent of all construction materials recycled.

In 2017, Western Health won an award for its single-use metals instruments program, with around 500 kilograms of steel recycled in 2016, representing about 80 per cent of all single-use metal instruments.

 

In 2016, the City of Booroondara on behalf of the Eastern Alliance for Greenhouse Action Councils, a network of seven councils in Melbourne’s east, won the government award for its work with a variety of organisations to develop and trial a framework for monitoring biodiversity.

 

Sustainability Victoria (SV) assists entrants throughout the nomination process, then finalists and winners are provided with media releases, social media graphics, professional photos and other promotional collateral.

SV Interim CEO, Carl Muller, said the 2018 finalists and winners demonstrated that the awards process improves engagement and marketing opportunities at every stage.

“From the time they complete their entries through to the announcement of finalists, then at the prestigious ceremony to announce winners and beyond, entrants report a really positive experience,” Muller said.

“Now is the time for any group doing good sustainability work to highlight their sustainability through the Premier’s Sustainability Awards.”

In the awards’ 17-year history, businesses, schools, organisations and community groups have enjoyed the chance to not only demonstrate their sustainability success, but to promote it. Entries close on June 13, 2019.