Sutherland Shire Local Business Awards to recognise environmentally responsible firms

Waste conscious: Peter Nolan from Mr Paisley's Cafe in Caringbah, one of several cafes in the shire who offer a discount to customers who bring their own mug.  Picture: John Veage
Waste conscious: Peter Nolan from Mr Paisley's Cafe in Caringbah, one of several cafes in the shire who offer a discount to customers who bring their own mug. Picture: John Veage

A new category has been added to this year’s Sutherland Shire Local Business Awards to recognise firms which “step up” in environmental responsibility.

Sutherland Shire Environment Centre developed the concept and criteria for the Sustainability Award, and believes it could be a trend setter.

“We are looking for businesses that make an outstanding contribution towards the environment,” said environment centre, chair Dr Tassia Kolesnikow.

“If we want to have a healthy planet for our children, we need businesses with sustainable products and practices that reduce the consumption of valuable resources such as water, energy and fuel.”

Dr Kolesnikow said they could include:

  • Actions to reduce the burden of human impact on the environment, such as air and water pollution and waste. 
  • Environmentally-responsible building practices or products, or services that make a substantial contribution to sustainability.

Dr Kolesnikow said shire residents generated over a 100,000 tonnes of waste per year.

“Ultimately all of that comes from the products people buy,” she said.

“Businesses could reduce this impact by eliminating plastic bags, selling coffee in cardboard or reusable mugs instead of foam mugs, selling takeaway food in paper rather than foam packaging or replacing plastic straws with paper ones.

“Businesses can even package goods in ‘plastic’ bags made entirely of plant material that are 100 per cent recyclable.

“Let’s put the ECO into economics.

“Sustainability offers businesses a positive new direction for growth and we can already see that there’s a ready market for it.”

Environment centre executive officer Jenni Gormley said a sustainable cafe in Adelaide, where home-made, organic food was served by the local school, was an example of “an effective partnership and a wonderful model for sustainability.”

Environment centre secretary Lyn McLean who proposed the concept and prepared the criteria for the new award, said similar awards may be offered in other areas, “but we hope this one will be special”.

Ms McLean said, if shire businesses responded as expected, the award could be a trend-setter.

“Making little changes can make a big difference,” she said.

The environment centre will promote some entrants’ sustainable business practices online.

Nominations close on June 26.

 Alternatively: ssec.org.au

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