Planet Ark Environmental Foundation is an Australian not-for-profit organisation with a vision of a world where people live in balance with nature. Established in 1992, we are one of Australia’s leading environmental behaviour change organisations with a focus on working collaboratively and positively.
We help people, governments and businesses reduce their impact on the environment in three key areas: sustainable resource use; low carbon lifestyles; and connecting people with nature. We promote and create simple, positive environmental actions - for everyone.
Our campaigns and programs build on our positive and action-based philosophy to work with a broad range of individuals, schools, councils and workplaces.
In short, we define ourselves by what we are for rather than what we are against. This approach strikes a strong chord amongst the millions of Australians who take part in our campaigns each year.
We are pleased to present the Planet Ark Annual Review for 2015.
In former years, our Annual Review has reported on the previous financial year. From now on, however, we have decided to report on the previous calendar year for all activities except our financial performance, which will continue to follow the financial year timetable. This will better reflect the different ways in which our campaigns and financial calendars operate.
2015 was a big year for Planet Ark, with the launch of the Packaging Recyclability Evaluation Portal (PREP), our joint venture with Greenchip, and our Australian Recycling Label (ARL), as well as the first solar installation under the Planet Ark Power program. These three initiatives are managed by our for-profit social enterprise Planet Ark Environmental Solutions. Social enterprises apply commercial strategies to achieving social or environmental outcomes. We see this approach as very much part of new thinking about how both for-profit and not-for-profit organisations can advance their own sustainability as well as that of the planet. All profits from the Solutions business will be used to aid in the growth of Planet Ark’s existing and future campaigns.
The concept of the ‘circular economy’ is also gaining traction, and Planet Ark has been quick to apply it to our own thinking and communications. We regard this as a repurposing and extension of the ‘closed loop’ philosophy that Planet Ark has espoused and practiced since its inception, be it through our recycling programs or our promotion of responsibly sourced wood as a carbon-storing and renewable building material.
Our positioning as a practical, solutions-focused organisation continues to resonate with Australians. Our brand awareness as measured by the Living LOHAS 5 research increased from 82% in the previous survey to 86% in 2015. More importantly we remain a highly trusted brand. Among the 420 brands named by respondents in the latest survey, Planet Ark was the 4th most cited as having ‘a strong reputation for environmental, sustainable or ethical performance’. We have held this position in the last three surveys, and are one of only three organisations to have been in the top ten in every one.
Recycling has always been in Planet Ark’s core DNA, and our programs have helped to make recycling an everyday part of Australian life. Nonetheless, questions persist, and for National Recycling Week 2015, we answered many of them in our research report All Sorted: Answering the Big Recycling Questions. The Friday File Fling is a key activity during the week, and last year a record number of organisations recycled 40 tonnes of high-quality office paper. Staff at Australian Paper, our Make it Recycled partner, were particularly active, filling 52 wheelie bins with almost 3,000 kg of files.
Our ‘Cartridges 4 Planet Ark’ program also celebrated the 30 millionth cartridge diverted from landfill since the campaign began. This is a significant achievement, made possible by an extraordinary collaboration over more than a decade, between our manufacturing partners Brother, Canon, Epson, HP, Konica Minolta, Kyocera and Océ; our retail partners; and our logistics and recycling partner Close the Loop.
Our flagship campaign, National Tree Day continues to connect hundreds of thousands of Australians with nearby nature, thanks to the 15-year support of Toyota as major sponsor. People flocked to planting sites within schools and communities across the country to help us celebrate our milestone 20th birthday. As part of the public awareness campaign, we commissioned new research titled Needing Trees – The Nature of Happiness, which investigated how contact with nature affects people’s life-long happiness. Indeed, respondents who rated themselves as happier adults than their peers had engaged in one third more activities outside each week as children.
Our Make it Wood partnership with Forest and Wood Products Australia has played no small part in raising awareness about the environmental benefits of building with responsibly sourced timber. Five councils around Australia have now adopted Wood Encouragement Policies, the first of which was Latrobe City Council, who as well as being trailblazers, have worked tirelessly with us to enlist other councils in adopting the policy. In November 2015 we hosted a sold out Cities of the Future seminar at the iconic Library at The Dock in Melbourne. We were delighted to have internationally acclaimed architect Alex de Rijke as the keynote speaker, to help us educate the building industry on the benefits of mass timber construction.
After a loss of $127, 737 in 2014, we are pleased to announce a small surplus of $4,343 in FY 2015. This result has been achieved despite a 9% reduction in revenue, due to a number of organisational efficiencies that saw our expenses fall by 13.6%. Notwithstanding these reductions, we have continued to deliver our full range of programs, and even institute new activities. With our pipeline business looking encouraging and a continuing firm rein on our budget, we are projecting another modest surplus in the coming year.
We gratefully acknowledge the vital contributions of our partners, sponsors, government bodies, businesses, schools, and environmental, industry and community groups, whose collaboration is highlighted in this report. Together they enable us to provide positive environmental actions for everyone.
Planet Ark’s RecyclingNearYou website is Australia’s premier information service with over 2.2 million visits made last year by consumers seeking recycling options.
Recycling contamination is one of the biggest challenges faced by councils and recyclers. RecyclingNearYou provides a free and reliable database of information to help householders recycle right.
For the first time in seven years, electronic waste did not top the list of the most searched category with Charities (Clothing and Textiles) taking the number one spot.
With total visits to RecyclingNearYou increasing every year, its growing popularity demonstrates that more and more people are jumping into the circular economy.
In 2015 Planet Ark teamed up with RecycleSmart to release a free smartphone app to make it easy for you to get answers to your tricky waste and recycling questions, while you’re on the move!
The new app uses Planet Ark’s comprehensive RecyclingNearYou database to source the most up-to-date recycling information for every council area in Australia on iphone and android devices.
Planet Ark teamed up with the Australian Battery Recycling Initiative to launch Power Tool BatteryBack. The free pilot program, running in hardware stores throughout Brisbane, is designed to measure the demand for a recycling program for used power tool batteries.
Using radio ads, in-store resources and free media almost two tonnes of batteries were collected in the first six months. The information from the pilot will be used to inform the development of a potential national program.
The average Australian workplace generates over 12.5 million tonnes of waste each year, around half of which is sent to landfill. And the rate at which new waste is generated is increasing. In addition, businesses embracing ‘green’ mandates such as recycling have an increased ability to recruit and retain good employees. This is why it is so important to connect businesses with recycling options around Australia.
The BusinessRecycling.com.au site expanded its resources through the commencement of the Recycling Equipment Catalogue integration, as well as the development of new Behaviour Change Made Easy and Breaking the Barriers to Workplace Recycling sections. Service provider recruitment and regular quality assurance measures were carried out throughout the year.
In March/April 2015, our promotional campaign focused on breaking the barriers to workplace recycling. We highlighted some businesses who are successfully breaking down those barriers and achieving impressive results, both environmentally and economically.
This campaign received impressive pick up from mainstream media (especially radio) on top of the usual industry media. Radio and print media coverage reached an audience of 682,889 with an estimated media value of $130,595 (not including online).
Since it began in 2003, 'Cartridges 4 Planet Ark' has diverted over 30 million printer cartridges from landfill, keeping resources in the productive economy.
The innovative recycling program provides Australians with a free, easy and environmentally-accredited way to recycle their used printer cartridges. We engage with workplaces, retailers, schools, councils, parliamentarians and households around the country to continually increase participation in the program.
In April/May 2015, our annual promotional campaign focused on the emergence of the circular economy and the great example that 'Cartridges 4 Planet Ark' is forging in the use of recycled resources through the ground-breaking development of products like TonerPave™, Enviroliner pens and eWood®.
Media stories [for the promotional period] reached an audience of over 1 million Australians and were valued at $135,000. Our Facebook audience reach for cartridge related posts more than doubled from the previous year with the use of innovative videos and graphics featuring seven-time World Champion surfer Layne Beachley, along with a first LinkedIn blog from our CEO. A Schools Competition during this period resulted in 195 entries and 79 new schools registering for a collection box.
During National Recycling Week, 9th – 15th November 2015, councils, workplaces, schools and individuals focused on the many benefits that reuse and recycling provide.
Australians have embraced recycling but questions persist. In 2015 the annual research report titled All Sorted - Answering the Big Recycling Questions addressed seven of the key recycling questions like: what happens to my recycling; what are the benefits of recycling; and what are the most common recycling mistakes?
The Recycle Rescue game, developed as a joint project between MobileMuster and ‘Cartridges 4 Planet Ark’, was designed to gamify education with a focus on the benefits of recycling mobiles phones and printer cartridges. The game was extensively promoted through schools and is supported by teaching resources.
Other key activities included: ten Sydney schools recycling tonnes of paper, garden waste, metal and other items in Bingo Bins; an installation in Melbourne’s Bourke Street Mall asking workers to pledge to use recycled office paper; dozens of councils engaging their residents in activities like facility tours, workshops and swap parties; and the development of four case studies of Australian Packaging Covenant High Performers that were shared though the media, social media, the research report and website and which will be used throughout the coming year to inspire other workplaces.
Responsibly sourced wood is the only major building material that is renewable, stores carbon and has a much lower manufacturing carbon footprint than materials like steel, concrete and aluminium. It is also quick to build with, cost competitive and has a range of health benefits.
In March this year, Make It Wood constructed a Nano House at Customs House in Sydney to celebrate World Wood Day for the first time in Australia. This coincided with the release of a research report entitled Wood – Housing, Health, Humanity which illustrated significant health benefits of using wood in living and working environments. The combined media from these two events was valued at $47,522.
In 2015 Make It Wood continued to emphasise the importance of timber certification schemes – FSC, PEFC and AFS – when sourcing timber. As members of FSC Australia, we contributed to the development of the new FSC national standard and supported the FSC Friday campaign.
We engaged with 557 mayors across the country to promote Wood Encouragement Policies for future development of public buildings. As a result, five councils in Australia have adopted such a policy: Latrobe City and Wellington Shire Councils in Vic, Wattle Ranges Council in SA, and Kyogle and Tumbarumba Councils in NSW. And more councils are following in their footsteps.
National Tree Day is an opportunity to do something positive for your local environment and community and to reconnect with nature. National Tree Day started in 1996 and since then more than 3.8 million people have planted 22.3 million trees and plants and it's still growing.
In 2015 Planet Ark celebrated 20 years of National Tree Day and Schools Tree Day - Australia's largest community tree-planting and nature care event. Planet Ark’s biggest campaign, National Tree Day, has continued to bear fruit for the environment and for the people involved.
In celebration of the 20th year of Planet Ark's National Tree Day, his Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama blessed a tree at Fairmont Resort in the Blue Mountains. His Holiness’ blessing of the weeping spruce tree symbolised the importance of environmental protection as a universal responsibility and lent credibility to the campaign.
Our National Tree Day 2015 Report: Needing Trees - The Nature of Happiness, commissioned by Planet Ark and sponsored by Toyota, investigated how contact with nature makes people happy across all life stages. The research found that people who regularly engage in activities outdoors are significantly happier than people who do not – just one third more outdoor time makes a critical difference.
We are again most grateful for the support of our celebrity ambassadors Magdalena Roze, James Treble, Ranger Stacey, Layne Beachley, Jamie Durie and Costa Georgiadis as well as all the volunteers who helped plant 1.2million native trees, shrubs, grasses and edibles. Their volunteer labour has been valued at $5.6 million: a great outcome for the environment.
Australian Paper and Planet Ark took over part of the iconic Bourke Street Mall in Melbourne on Friday 13th November to encourage locals to make a pledge of support for Australian made recycled paper. Almost everyone said they recycled paper in the office but most didn’t buy it back. After talking to the team they pledged to close the recycling loop.
The team at Australian Paper got involved in the Friday File Fling with each site challenging the other for the title of best recycler. Ten teams across the 3 Australian Paper sites flung 57.25 wheelie bins or 13,740 litres worth of files, ready to be turned back into high quality Australian made paper.
Bingo Bins has been a loyal and committed Partner of Planet Ark since 2011. Through this exclusive partnership, we're working together to increase recycling rates for construction and demolition materials.
We’re also finding ways to encourage more businesses to choose a verified and trusted recycler, and continue to work closely with Bingo Group to assess the environmental impact of their operations in NSW.
In 2015, we verified Bingo’s systems to confirm that every skip bin goes to a recycling centre. Bingo was a Supporting Sponsor of National Recycling Week in 2015. They provided nine schools around greater Sydney with the chance to engage with recycling by providing them with free skip bins.
July 2015 saw Planet Ark launch a new Workplace Engagement program: an ‘added-value’ service, through which a Planet Ark team member supports a business to develop a streamlined calendar of workplace sustainability activities that align with Planet Ark’s own campaigns. The program offers three tiers of workplace support; ‘Advocate’, ‘Champion’ and ‘Supporter’ with fees ranging from $10,000-$40,000 p.a.
We were delighted to welcome Macquarie Group as the first business to sign on for the program in August 2015 and in the short time since, have conducted two presentations to staff and assisted the business in its efforts to reduce waste in key offices.
Through our Planet Ark Endorsed range of products, we help Australian shoppers choose more environmentally responsible cleaning products and toilet paper for their home.
We only endorse high quality consumer products that offer a more environmentally responsible alternative to the commonly used products on the market.
In 2015 we celebrated 20 years of support for Safe and icare, helping Australian householders choose Safe and icare 100% recycled, Australian made toilet tissue products.
We also continued our long-running endorsement of Aware Environmental’s popular Orange Power and Aware cleaning products and air fresheners. Aware Environmental has contributed more than $750,000 towards Planet Ark campaigns since we began working together in 2008.
Newly established Planet Ark Environmental Solutions has had a very big 2015. The key work has centred on the creation of three product offerings:
The Packaging Recyclability Evaluation Portal (PREP) is a joint program originally scoped and commissioned by the Australian Packaging Covenant, and jointly developed, managed and owned by Planet Ark and GreenChip.
PREP assists brand owners, packaging designers, manufacturers and other packaging supply chain stakeholders to improve during the design phase the recyclability of their packaging at kerbside.
Most Australians are confused about the recyclability of at least one common packaging item. This confusion stems from unclear labelling, changes in recycling systems over time and differences between collection services.
That’s why Planet Ark worked with a number of stakeholders to develop the ARL. We particularly acknowledge the generous support of Anthony Peyton from GreenChip and Lok-Man Shu from Officeworks for their assistance in developing the ARL.
Officeworks were the first company to use the label on their products, and Blackmores followed soon after, helping Planet Ark launch the label at an event in Parliament House NSW, hosted by NSW Environment Minister Hon. Mark Speakman.
Many Australian workplaces (like schools, councils, businesses) want to install solar panels for both environmental and cost related reasons but the high up front cost is a significant barrier. That’s why we've come up with Planet Ark Power.
Planet Ark Power operates as a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA). Under the PPA a workplace agrees to purchase the power generated from the roof-top solar panels (basically a mini power station) in exchange for their free installation and maintenance throughout the life of the agreement – usually 15 years. At the end of the agreement the organisation owns the panels outright, which means they'll be generating their own free power.
In 2015 Planet Ark launched the first Planet Ark Power installation with James Merlino, the Deputy Premier and Victorian Education Minister. The 20kW system was installed at Mountain District Christian School in outer Melbourne.
Throughout 2015 Planet Ark staff shared their knowledge and expertise through the production of a number of research reports, as well as contributions to a range of fora
Michael Coleman is a Company Director and consultant. He is a Non-executive Director and Chairman of the Audit Committee of Macquarie Group Limited; a member of the Audit Committee of the Reserve Bank of Australia; National Board member Australian Institute of Company Directors (AICD) and Divisional Councillor for the AICD’s NSW Division; Chair of the Reporting Committee of the AICD; Adjunct Professor at the Australian School of Business, UNSW; Chair of the Advisory Board of the Centre for Accounting and Assurance Services Research, UNSW; Advisory Board member with Norton Rose Fulbright and Bingo Industries; Director/Treasurer of Osteoporosis Australia and Director of the Belvoir Street Theatre Foundation.
Michael holds Bachelor and Master’s Degrees in Commerce from UNSW. He is a Fellow of Chartered Accountants Australia New Zealand and a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.
Paul was appointed CEO in June 2010 and was one of the founding directors of Planet Ark in 1992. He has worked in the environmental field for the past 26 years as an environmental researcher, retailer, writer and ethical investment fund manager, all with a common theme of helping to make our society more sustainable.
Prior to working in the environmental field he spent 11 years in the financial services industry in research and advising roles. In 1986 Paul co-founded Australian Ethical Investment Ltd, which is Australia’s first socially responsible fund manager with now over $1.4 billion under management.
Lyndell joined the Navitas Group in April 2009, an Australian based global education company; and has overall responsibility for the operations of Navitas’ Professional & English Programs Division. Lyndell has held senior appointments in the financial services industry in banking and general insurance with major Australian institutions.
Andrew Johnson is a consultant and non Executive Company Director. He was formerly a CSIRO Group Executive and member of the CSIRO Executive team where for nearly a decade he led the organisation’s water, land, atmospheric, marine, biodiversity and urban systems research. He currently is Chair of the Australian Government's Independent Expert Committee on Coal Seam Gas and Large Scale Coal Mining and is a member of the Governing Council of the Queensland Futures Institute. Andrew is a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering.
Phil is Managing Director of Australian Ethical Investment and a Director of Australian Ethical Superannuation Pty Limited, a pioneer of socially responsible investment in Australia with $1.4bn in funds under management. He has over 30 years experience in financial services covering funds management, superannuation, corporate governance, and industry regulation.
Phil is currently a Director of industry associations the Responsible Investment Association of Australia, the Investor Group for Climate Change and the environmental not for profit Beyond Zero emissions. He has a Bachelor of Economics, a Master of Commerce and a Master of Business Administration and is a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and the Australian Society of Certified Practising Accountants.
After completing a geography BSc studying the science of climate change, Howard spent a few years in merchant banking and insurance before landing at market research. His research career has been focused on brands, advertising and behaviour change in the UK, New Zealand and Australia. He is the founder and CEO of Pollinate, one of Australia’s most innovative research agencies focussed on people as the most powerful agents for change. Together with Social Soup, one of the world’s leading advocacy and word of mouth agencies where Howard is a Director, Pollinate is part of The Influence Group of companies which advances influence as the future of marketing.
Gillian is an experienced company director, chair and CEO with a strong international commercial background. Her career has spanned the private and public sector and included financial & professional services, technology commercialisation, FMCG, health and education. She holds law degrees from Sydney and Harvard Universities, is qualified as a counselor and psychotherapist, and is a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors. Since 2005 Gillian has worked professionally as an executive coach & mentor.
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