Growthpoint Properties has launched an innovative pilot project that turns the large volumes of food waste generated by client businesses at its properties into compost.
The project, named G-Eco, short for Growthpoint Eco, is a partnership with Life & Earth and has the potential for massive environmental benefits.
It is being tested at Growthpoint Business Park in Midrand using waste produced at four of Growthpoint’s large multi-tenant properties in the area.
The idea was born 18-months ago when Growthpoint embarked on a waste-management analysis process to measure waste sent to landfills and the effectiveness of its existing initiatives to reduce this. Results revealed that the waste generated by its building users and sent to landfill was substantial.
Knowing that 40% to 60% of landfill waste comes from organic waste from food and garden waste, Growthpoint embarked on an innovative six-month wet waste diversion trial, which started at the beginning of July this year.
“We are converting the wet waste collected at our properties taking part in the trial into compost, which is then used at these properties,” says Werner van Antwerpen, Head of Sustainability at Growthpoint.
To start the project, driven by Growthpoint’s Industrial Property Division, Life & Earth installed a food waste composting machine at Growthpoint Business Park in Midrand. The plant turns food waste into 100% organic compost and can process up to 1,000kg of food waste each day with the capacity to make about nine tonnes of compost a month.
Then, Growthpoint’s current waste contractors at Growthpoint Business Park, Woodlands Office Park, Woodmead Retail Park and Central Park were trained about the process and how to separate wet waste at source. Growthpoint also worked with its clients at these properties, encouraging them to separate their food waste.
The waste is taken to the composting plant at Growthpoint Business Park, where it is processed.
During its first four months of the trial, Growthpoint diverted 16 tonnes of waste from landfill and produced six cubic metres of nutrient-rich soil, which is reapplied at Growthpoint Business Park.
The resulting positive environmental impacts are significant when considering that composting food waste on site instead of sending it to landfill reduces CO2e emissions by 332kg per tonne – and this is just the start.
By removing food waste from the waste stream, recyclables increase by about 30%. Composting food waste is also a cleaner and healthier. It reduces vermin and rat infestations and removes bad smells from rotting food. Also, it reduces harmful vehicle emissions, with fewer trips now needed to take waste to the dump, as well deliver garden compost to the properties.
Importantly, a focus on food waste creates more awareness about the problem and helps clients manage their food costs as they strive to reduce both. So, the project stands to have a direct positive impact of Growthpoint’s clients’ businesses.
Proactive waste management initiatives such as G-Eco have become essential in South Africa. According to Life & Earth, the country sends more than 10.2m tonnes of food waste to landfill every year, and food waste costs our economy more than R4.6bn annually.
“The G-Eco waste-to-soil project is one component of Growthpoint’s bigger waste management strategy,” explains van Antwerpen.
It already reduces waste through recycling, and plans to ensure all its buildings have onsite recycling by the end of 2018.
Based on the success of the G-Eco pilot, Growthpoint plans to introduce more waste-to-soil plants in other areas of the country where it has clusters of property assets.
“We are excited to find out exactly how much waste-to-landfill we will be able to save with our different waste management programmes, but we are confident that it will be substantial,” says van Antwerpen. He also notes: “This innovative project contributes to Growthpoint’s environmentally responsible leadership and furthers our sustainable business journey.”
Growthpoint provides space to thrive with innovative and sustainable property solutions. It is the largest South African primary REIT listed on the JSE, and owns and manages a diversified portfolio of 547 property assets, locally and internationally.
Growthpoint is a Platinum Founding Member of Green Building Council South Africa (GBCSA), a member of the GBCSA’s Green Building Leader Network, a component of the FTSE4Good Emerging Index and has been included in the FTSE/JSE Responsible Investment Index for eight years running. It owns and co-owns the largest portfolio of certified green buildings of any company in South Africa and is recognised as a leading developer of green buildings. Growthpoint recently launched the only property portfolio in South Africa to be highly rated by both the South African Property Owners Association (SAPOA) and the GBCSA, aptly named the Thrive Portfolio.
Growthpoint Properties Limited
Werner van Antwerpen, head of sustainability
011 944 6598
We had the pleasure of spending the day with Sandile and David from Wildlands.
Wildlands have a compelling mission, one that we can all agree with. This is it: Imagine a world where the poorest of the poor could feed themselves, clothe themselves, educate themselves, house themselves – by growing and bartering trees and collecting waste, all while conserving their natural environment and heritage.
As simple it sounds, it takes incredible amount of passion and commitment to make it a reality.
We spent the day with Sandile and Michael at Cato where they are creating a food garden. This garden is the used to teach members of the community how to grow their own food in a sustainable way. Food security is a very big issue in South Africa
These are the other programs they have:
Trees for Life – This was first piloted in northern KwaZulu-Natal in 2004 and gives jobless and marginalised individuals the chance to “grow” themselves out of poverty by propagating indigenous trees and bartering these trees for livelihood support. We call these inspirational souls – Tree-preneurs.
Greening your Future – Through this programme, the trees propagated by Tree-preneurs, are planted into restoration sites, restoring indigenous forests, riparian zones and sequestering carbon that local communities can trade as a source of annuity income. More than 1 million indigenous trees are planted into degraded areas – covering thousands of hectares, annually.
Recycling for Life – This programme allows poverty stricken and marginalised people to collect and trade recyclable waste for livelihood support. Wildlands’ network of Waste-preneurs fulfil a very important function of cleaning their communities, removing glass, plastic, cans and paper from local water sources and communal areas, and ultimately creating clean environments for local residents.
Clothes for Life – This is a new programme which was launched in April 2015. Green-preneurs (the collective term for Waste-preneurs and Tree-preneurs) , will now be able barter their trees and waste for bundles of good quality, second hand clothing, collected by schools all over Durban and Pietermaritzburg.
Ubuntu Earth – This programme is founded on the principle that human well-being and environmental health are directly linked.
Khuthaza Business – This is a Wildlands’ Small and Micro Enterprise Development project, started in 2013, anchored by Mondi, Mondi Zimele and the South African Sugar Association (SASA) has enabled over 90 capital grants in exchange for trees.
Conservation SPACE – (Species, People and the Conservation of the Environment) This programme aims to expand the conservation of natural areas through various means. This includes direct land acquisition and proclamation, working with local communities and landowners to secure and proclaim land, and through funding the work of other organisations.
And now Sustainable Food Gardens!
As global consciousness surrounding environmental sustainability and the conservation of the earth’s resources increases, the concept of ‘going green’ is being applied more and more in almost every sector of the economy – including the film industry.
South Africa is taking considerable strides towards sustainability and was ranked 34th out of 60 countries featured in the Global Green Economy Index in 2014.
The local production sector however, is still a fledgling contender in green practices when compared to its international counterparts.
A common perception is that green filmmaking is complicated, expensive and time consuming – an immediate deterrent for an industry which is by nature fast-paced and budget constricted. But producers who are successfully applying green methods claim the opposite is true – ‘going green’ not only serves the environment but can save on production budgets and increase overall efficiency on set. The secret lies in careful planning, teamwork and an adjustment in thinking.
Emellie O’Brien, the founder and president of Earth Angel Sustainable Production Services in the US, has eco managed a number of green produced Hollywood films including The Amazing Spider-Man 2, which was named the most eco-friendly blockbuster in Sony Pictures history. “I think green filmmaking is still viewed as a luxury or a nuisance, which is ironic because in fact being green really comes down to being more resourceful,” she explains. “It’s all about how we can do more with less, and I think that filmmakers often associate green practices with impeding their creativity. Unless audiences begin to demand it or we as an industry create an internal demand for it, it will unfortunately take a while before green filmmaking becomes common practice.”
Eco-producer Elle Matthews of KwaZulu Natal-based Green Shoot Films, one of a few local production companies which produces green, echoes this sentiment and admits that converting to an environmentally-friendly business requires an initial investment of time and money. She explains: “I saw it as an investment in the future of our company… and the planet. And one which over time works out to be more cost efficient.”
In the UK, productions funded by the British Film Institute are required to complete a carbon calculator. Holland has elected sustainability manager Els Rientjes, facilitated by the Netherlands Film Fund, and is the birthplace of the Green Film Making Project, a Strawberry Earth initiative which encourages and educates filmmakers on sustainable film production. Although green production is currently optional, Rientjes believes it will soon become standard practise for the next generation of filmmakers.
“Companies adamant about sticking to their old methods will be out of business in 10 years while producers who believe in creating a circular economy will benefit from their way of working,” says Rientjes. “Government and subsidies will in the near future expect transparency from companies and will want to see them adopting a sustainable working process. If not, their subsidies will be refused or significantly reduced.”
O’Brien too would like to see green workflows become a production pre-requisite and comments: “I would like to see mandatory carbon tracking in place for all productions. I would like for the eco-supervisor role to become as commonplace on a film set as the camera operator. And I would like to see the city/state film commissioner offices incentivise shows that strive to reduce their environmental impact and protect their local communities.”
Matthews finds that appointing an eco-supervisor is one of the most effective ways to ensure green practices are carried out during major productions.
“A green steward helps cast and crew implement sustainability practices by sourcing eco-friendly vendors and products, disseminating information and resources, and working with department heads to green their divisions. Eventually, small, simple changes make a big difference, like using eco-friendly cleaning products on set, banning smoking during shoots and choosing to film in environments that benefit crew, cast and clients.”
Rientjes maintains that there are greener options available for every production department, but that the easiest wins are in transport, recycling (costumes, decor) and camera/lighting choices. She adds that aside from the environmental and cost saving benefits, green producing “appeals to the interests of big budget studios whose social corporate responsibility platforms are becoming just as important to consumers, as the big budgeted spectacles they produce.”
While working on Paramount’s NOAH O’Brien collaborated with non-profit Rock and Wrap it Up! which collected 5 919kg of leftover food over the course of shooting. These donations went on to provide an estimated 10 038 meals to local shelters, which as a result saved 4 439kg of CO2 from entering the atmosphere by keeping that food out of landfills. This is just an example of how planning and adjusting to new methodologies can have huge environmental and ethical impact.
O’Brien concludes: “Hearing the long-term effects of running a sustainable show is incredibly rewarding – whether it’s a crew member who now composts at home, or a local charity which has made a difference in the lives of disadvantaged folks as a result of our show’s donations. Sustainable filmmaking has a much larger impact than the recycling bins at craft service. As soon as our industry wakes up to that fact, we can really create some incredible change.”
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