Environmental Stewardship by Design

Environmental Stewardship by Design
Environmental Stewardship by Design

An insight into Alex Fraser’s Clarinda Recycling Facility, and how its commitment to sustainability benefits its community, environment and business.  

By Sustainability Manager Brendan Liveris 

In Australia, a renewed appreciation for our natural environment seems to be one of the many unexpected outcomes of the Coronavirus lockdowns, and the subsequent easing of restrictions 

Unprecedented crowds flocked to the Organ Pipes National Park just north of Melbourne, resulting in an overflowing car park and scenes reminiscent of supermarket toilet paper aisle, circa March 2020 

Similarly, many dusted off their old hiking boots to head off the beaten tracks, the ski lifts are booking (yes, booking!) up rapidly for the upcoming season, and bike shops can’t keep stock on the shelves.  

The beauty of nature is providing much needed respite to the housebound heroes of Covid-19. If there was any question as to why we need to protect our environment, these anecdotes provide one a convincing answer. 

The importance of managing the natural environment is well known – improving air and water quality, mitigating climate change, reducing impact on native species, ensuring the most efficient use of limited resources – all of which have equally wellknown health and economic impacts on our societies.  

Sustainability Manager Brendan Liveris planting trees for World Environment Day at Alex Fraser's Clarinda Recycling Facility.

Sustainability Manager Brendan Liveris planting trees for World Environment Day at Alex Fraser’s Clarinda Recycling Facility.

When businesses commit to environmental stewardship, they not only take on the responsibility of managing the environment in which they operate; they directly benefit from the outcomes, when it is done well.  

The Australian Government says businesses can reduce their environmental impact by:  

managing waste better 

reducing your energy consumption and emissions

using water more efficiently 

Alex Fraser is strategically structured to have a positive impact on each of these branches of environmental protection, not just within the business, but within the community.  

Take, for example, the Clarinda Recycling Facility in Melbourne’s south east. From its establishment, it has recycling at its heart. The site was previously a hard rock quarry that has been repurposed to continue to serve the community. In fact, it has increased its service offering to the community by not only producing sustainable construction materials, but also creating an outlet for the construction and demolition waste that is generated in the area. From the perspective of the circular economy, the value has immensely increased as every tonne recycled represents one less tonne in landfill and one less tonne extracted from the ground. Literally, not killing two birds with one stone. Or would we say, metaphorically saving two birds with every stone.  

Recycling is a key strategy in ‘managing waste better’ something that has been officially recognised in Victoria with the release of the Recycling Victoria policy early this year. It recognises the importance of the transition to the circular economy and the public support for it. Many local councils have been even faster to act, with circular economy and recycling strategies of their own to encourage businesses and the community. This is good news because Australia’s performance in the Global Waste Index is only middle of the range for Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries, despite its improvement in recent years. Foregoing recycling facilities while population increases holds the circular economy back. C’mon, Australia. There is a still a long way to go! 

A crucial enabler to managing waste better while ‘reducing energy consumption and emissions’ is an

Fauna on site at Alex Fraser's Clarinda Recycling Facility

Local fauna makes itself at home at Alex Fraser’s Clarinda Recycling Facility.

integrated network of operations. In Victoria, Alex Fraser has trio of sites that surround the cityLaverton in the west, Epping in the north, and Clarinda, strategically located to service Melbourne’s south east.  

This network has two key advantages over quarry operations – its immediate proximity to metropolitan infrastructure projects needing resources and a potentially endless supply of raw materials This means fewer trucks to travel fewer kilometres; less CO2 emissions – a win for the environment, and less heavy vehicles on our roads – a win for communities.  

Emissions are further reduced by the 40,000 native trees that populate landscaped bunds bordering the site to provide a visual barrier. Few locations in Melbourne urban areas have such a concentration of trees, that provide a home to many native birds and animals, thereby supporting biodiversity.  

The site’s former extraction pits have been converted to dams to ensure a constant supply of storm water needed to operate the site. Using water more efficiently is done by design at Clarinda where natural run off is directed to the dams. A self-sustaining water supply is critical to air quality management and is consistently used to ensure dust suppression. Together, the trees and the dams support a small ecosystem, and serve a critical role in responsible site management.   

Its focus on protecting the environment in which it operates makes Alex Fraser‘s Clarinda Recycling Facility an example of how responsible environmental management can help yield positive outcomes for businesses and communities.

Emissions are further reduced by the 40,000 native trees that populate landscaped bunds bordering the site to provide a visual barrier. Few locations in Melbourne urban areas have such a concentration of trees, that provide a home to many native birds and animals, thereby supporting biodiversity.  

 The diversion of construction and demolition waste from landfill is an important contributor to the broader circular economy strategy being embraced at the national, state and local level. Done right, the environmental impacts of construction in Melbourne can and are being mitigated by facilities such as Clarinda.

For the sake of our ski slopes, the hiking tracks and cycling trails, environmentally focussed industry must continue to be supported at all levels of governments. Just like the chain on your bike, environmental management is only as strong as the weakest link.

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Feature image: Alex Fraser Managing Director Peter Murphy joined Brendan Liveris, where 800 trees were planted to commemorate World Environment Day 2020.

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