Sustainability is the word on everyone’s lips today and for good reason: The effects of climate change have accelerated faster than even the experts had predicted; faster than evolution can keep up with. Full circularity is the goal, but it seems unreachable in the required timeframe. The mining and resources sector is front and centre in both the battle to reduce emissions and the scramble for critical minerals for the green transition.
Like any seemingly insurmountable challenge, we need to break the problem down into manageable pieces and start with the end in mind.
GroundProbe is passionate about doing our part for sustainability. At the heart of what we do, our products form a key element of Orica’s digital division, enhancing the efficiency of the mining value stream. That alone is a great alignment with the challenge, but we need to ensure our operations and long-term strategies support the end goal of net zero by 2050.
Our most powerful asset currently is our people. Just like safety and quality, sustainability is everyone’s job. To put it another way, it takes everybody, every day (thousands of decisions all driven by a common goal) to make such a transition.
For some of you, there may be a sustainability team or department with qualified environmental scientists. For smaller businesses, there may be a need for external consultants to fill gaps in skill set but injecting the right training and knowledge right now is key. However, it is just as important to build resilience over time. This will be achieved through structured change management, developing a sense of purpose and learning the skills and concepts needed to deliver.
I thought it would be useful to pose (and hopefully partially answer) the below questions:
- What is best practice, and where do I go for guidance and inspiration?
- What are the international standards, and how do I stay ahead of stakeholder expectations?
- How can I harness people-driven sustainability – every person, every day?
What is best practice? Benchmarking?
When confronted by the challenge of what “take action for net zero by 2050” means, many of us realise that the most obvious things that come to mind fall way short of the concept of zero emissions. There is always the financial carbon offset path, but that should be treated as a short-term strategy. We need to balance the triple bottom line of people, planet and profit if we are to have a business that will sustain as well as be sustainable. So benchmarking various sources can be a valuable way to get direction:
- The power of local industry to pull together and combine knowledge, resources, and approaches is a surprising tool. We are literally ‘all in the same boat’.
- Local Government roundtables have been a good source of practical help and guidance in leveraging green funding to accelerate technology, energy transitions, reskilling and other common challenges faced. Get in touch with your local Member of Parliament.
- To identify best practices, we started looking at frameworks. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) have been around since 2015 and set out a wide range of business objectives and supporting resources to help guide us through (see standards below also). The definitions of Scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions form a key tool in breaking down the problem into progressively harder-to-measure and enforce groupings. The best advice is to start working on all three at the same time, as scope three may take a few years to embed into some existing supply chains.
- There are also a lot of available resources on product lifecycle management (PLM), which takes a value-stream perspective on products and services. This is an area where many of us will need external help to get started, but there are complimentary standards to set clear expectations (see standards below).
- Working with freight forwarders can address a large proportion of most of our carbon footprints. Working with forwarders that can provide CO2e (equivalent) data based on your chosen impact factors means that you can easily gather this data and analyse opportunities to reduce it.
- A key lesson for us was to incorporate environmental impact factors in decision-making within the Sales and operations planning processes. i.e. determining a plan that uses the shortest and least impactful route to market for your products.
The international standards community has been working on a range of general and industry-specific standards for over a decade. Many of these are only just emerging, so it pays to do your research on what might apply to you. In many cases, such standards are becoming embedded in purchasing contracts with deadlines where they will be mandated.
Aside from ISO14001, the original and baseline environmental standard that most businesses would already comply with, these standards span a broad range of business functions and industries, here is a list that might surprise some readers:
- ISO/TC 184/SC 4 and IEC/TC 65 Product Lifecycle Management
- ISO/AWI 53001 Management Systems for UN Sustainable Development Goals – Requirements for any organization. A must-read for most businesses
- ISO14080: 2018 Greenhouse Gas Management (principles)
- ISO20400:2017 and ISO26000: Sustainable Procurement and Social Responsibility
- ISO/PAS 50010: 2023 and ISO50001: Energy Management
- ISO/IEC 19395: 2015 and ISO/IEC TR30133: 2023 Information Technology
- ISO32210:2022: Sustainable Finance
- Financial reporting: The International Sustainability Standards Board (ISSB) provides a framework for companies to report on all relevant sustainability-related topics across the areas of governance, strategy, risk management, and metrics and targets. Effective from 1st Jan 2024.
- ISO24575:2023 Wastewater Treatment
- ISO18504: 2017 Sustainable Remediation – soil quality
- ISO30414:2018 Guidelines for internal and external human capital reporting
- ISO13065: 2015 Bioenergy
- ISO20121: 2012 Event Management
- ISO24434: Industrial Trucks
- ISO10987: 2012 Earth Moving Machinery.
The best advice is to understand the major impacts of your business model and educate yourself and your business on how this aligns with your specific ESG plan. Having everyone aligned will pay enormous dividends.
How can I harness people-driven sustainability? Alignment and engagement
To get the maximum human impact in your business, we need every person, every day to be not only making decisions with good environmental practice in mind but also bringing their creative selves to bear on the needs of the transition. Our people are the ones doing the work and their input to change the way it is done is more valuable than any other. Gathering Some big ideas, some innovative, some experimental, some obvious but all with one aim. To do our work with the minimum possible impact on the planet. It’s a goal without a ceiling: “Minimum possible”. This culminates in a circular economy mindset that generates an almost endless output of ideas.
To manifest this outcome, GroundProbe has embedded sustainability into its continuous improvement system. This is fully aligned with our short- and long-term business plan and is supported with training on the key tools to enable people to “see and solve” issues. Lean and green has also been around for many years but now it is a business imperative due to the increasing need for rapid change.
Now that we are realising the magnitude and seriousness of our legacy, we must show stewardship of the planet. There are many points of reference to assist with (or mandate) the roadmap. With carefully directed education, engaged people and business community support, we can do this.
The best mindset we can adopt is to embed the belief that ‘if it has to be, it’s up to me’.
To read the article in Friction, click here