SUSTAINABILITY HAPPENINGS

We at BlackStar become genuinely excited by global advances in environmental technologies. We know that it is only a matter of time until these filter down the supply stream and we want to push them into mainstream consciousness to accelerate this movement.

So here are our top picks as 2016 draws to a close;

  1. HYDRAIL — the sustainable solution for non-electrified networks.

Germany has ordered 14 silent hydrogen-run trains from French company Alstom. Hydrogen power works when hydrogen is combined with oxygen to produce huge amounts of energy. 

Holding 300 passengers, with 150 seated, the Coradia iLint trains are a giant step forward in sustainable transport, away from our mostly diesel models, as the only thing they release on their 140km/h runs is steam.

Testing will occur throughout 2017 with the revolutionary transport option available to the German public in December 2017. Denmark, Norway and the Netherlands have also shown great interest in adopting this transport option.

2. CONCEPT SNEAKER MADE FROM OCEAN PLASTICS — Adidas and Parley for the Oceans collaborate to make recycled sneakers.

Each pair of the 7000 created include 5% recycled polyester and 95% waste (about 11 plastic bottles). The plastic waste is collected by ocean-focused environmental group Parley for the Oceans in the Maldives and surrounding beaches. 

Adidas are working to utilise the sneaker fabrication process into other apparel lines and have fazed out microbeads and plastic bags in their products and stores worldwide. They aim to create one million pairs of recycled sneakers in 2017.

3. WASTE TO FUEL WITH TYRES, SUGARCANE AND AGAVE — Biofuel gets better with Australian-based developments in technology to produce oil from waste.

Each Australian generates 2,000kg of waste per year and registered motor vehicles in Australia consume an estimated 32,402 million litres of fuel per year.

This initiative works to reduce waste and increase fuel production by supplementing petrol or diesel for liquid biofuel made from tyres, agavé, and sugar cane. 

The Queensland Government recently appointed Queensland University of Technology’s Professor of biofuels and biorefinery Ian O’Hara as their Biofutures Ambassador. Professor O’Hara outlines that the biggest challenges in establishing this industry are supply chain development, creating cost-effective methods of conversion, and building networks. He also highlights that regional and rural economies would benefit greatly from investments here as biofuel production can take place on the feedstock site.

In line with these challenges, the Australian Renewable Energy Agency has announced a $2.37m investment in an advanced biofuels laboratory in Queensland which will transform bagasse (fibrous sugar cane) and acacia into one million litres of kerosene and diesel within the next three years.

The Inner West Business Environment Awards

On November 29 the Inner West Council hosted its first annual Business Environment Awards at the Petersham Service Centre. Local innovators came together to celebrate the steps businesses are taking to secure the health of the planet.

After only a few months into our sustainability journey, we were happy to be awarded finalist positions in the Energy Smart Award, the Sustainability Leadership Award, and the Rethink Waste Award. 

The best part of the night was hearing about the range of initiatives currently actioned by other sustainably-minded local companies.

Sustainability Leadership – For actions over a range of initiatives and taking a holistic view of sustainability.

Winner – The Bower Reuse and Repair Cooperative in Marrickville – for their valuable contribution to waste reduction, skills development and community collaboration. The bower continues to demonstrate continual improvement and looks beyond resource savings. 

The Bower’s main focus is on reducing how much general waste is going into landfill. Check out their bespoke Christmas trees made from recycled timber! 

Rethink Waste – For avoiding, reducing, reusing and recycling waste.

Winner - Access Hair in Balmain and Summer Hill. The salons are part of the Sustainable Salons initiative, and are taking a sustainable approach in their product choice, and recycling 90% of their waste. 

Energy Smart – For energy efficiency of gas and electricity and renewable energy.

Winner - CHOICE in Marrickville for installing LED lighting, upgrading their air-conditioner, and investigating solar panel installation.

 The happy winners.

The happy winners.

EARTHPOWER: TURNING BSP'S FOOD WASTE INTO ENERGY AND FERTILISER

EARTHPOWER opened in 2003 and is Australia’s first food waste to energy plant. It utilises anaerobic digestion processes whereby bacterial microbes break down the biomass and turn it into biogas. Harnessing this biogas, EARTHPOWER are able to input electricity grid. The residual product from this process is dried to create a high quality organic fertiliser.  

BlackStar has just started supplying our kitchen waste to VEOLIA, the parent company of EARTHPOWER that ensures all food waste is responsibly harnessed as green energy. In a matter of weeks, all the food scraps from our Newtown location will be sent to EARTHPOWER. Separating food waste from your general rubbish can actually decrease your regular pick ups and the costs can balance out. 

We at BlackStar feel that it is a consumer responsibility to recognise the full life cycle of waste and wanted to witness first hand this outstanding process. We were welcomed by Business Development Manager and passionate greenie Renee Waterhouse for some real talk and a tour of the facility.

What we saw (and smelt!) were familiar wastes like grease and fruit moving through a process that is actually a lot less ambiguous than the diagram below depicts.
Inspecting the organic fertiliser and watching burnt off carbon evaporate invoked childlike enthusiasm from our Director Christopher Thé and confirmed that excitement about solutions is an important force behind deepening our green. It works to overwhelm any lamenting over humanity's industrialist road and negate questions of how much one small business with a lot of heart can really tip the scale towards a sustainable future. 

We were really inspired by this visit to EARTHPOWER and encourage any small businesses invested in their Green future to consider contacting EARTHPOWER

creating_green_energy_process.jpg

NEW BESPOKE BOXES BEGIN ROLL OUT

The day has finally come when we take a giant step forward in our sustainability efforts. As a high-volume patisserie that daily sells slab upon slab of our famous Strawberry Watermelon Cake, viennoiserie and other deliciousness, we knew that one of our greatest challenges in deepening our Green would be packaging.

We did our research and, after a few dead ends and culs-de-sac, put the challenge to local warehousing and supply experts Sydney Packaging. After stating our needs and unnegotiables (no bleach, minimal waste, sustainable forestry, etc), they found a provider who held the relevant environmental certifications (i.e. the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification) and one who is in no way affiliated with anti-environmental activities (such as logging violations). This company is called Pinnacle and they adapted some existing box designs to fit our requirements.

Designing on what is essentially brown kraft and making it still look good was a challenge for our long time design partner David Henley from Xou Creative. Chris gave him the direction of ‘you know those markings they put on battleships in World War II…’ and it went from there...

Check out the beautiful product we have created together; 

We have spent hours creating our new bespoke box. These boxes are made out of entirely recycled material (eucalyptus and pine fibres from sustainable manager forests) and are not only recyclable but compostable! So boxes with food scraps will be sent to generate energy through EARTHPOWER

Not only are our new boxes more eco friendly but they are slightly cheaper than our previous boxes, Sydney Packaging operate on a subscription model (which is good for cashflow) and as they are partially assembled we expect to save hours of staff time each week. So savings all round!

We recognised early on in this process that our ability to reach people needs to inspire discussion and direction. Inside our boxes will be key messages that will rotate as we grow.

The first;

Climate Change
It’s a thing
We all have to do our bit to reduce, reuse and recycle.
Our boxes are now made from sustainably grown cardboard, are bleach free, use less ink and cardboard, and are fully compostable.
To see what else we are doing visit:
www.blackstargreen.com

The boxes are currently in roll out over our three locations and our old boxes will be completely fazed out within two months.

WHAT WE LIKE ABOUT THE PARIS CLIMATE PACT

The Paris Climate Pact is the first ever global, legally binding climate change agreement.

195 countries are working to develop a path to not exceed a 2°C degree rise in the average global temperature, with an aim for a more achievable 1.5°C rise. These countries are legally required to meet every five years to assess new technology and adjust their methods accordingly.

The recently unveiled NSW plan to reach zero emissions by 2050 is in accordance with the Paris agreement. It is one of the National Climate Action Plans presented by all countries involved to highlight geo-specific opportunities for research, growth and implementation. Countries voluntarily put up what they can do, with a focus on providing support to developing countries through consultation and examples. 

Transparency of reporting will include accounts of progress and setbacks to the public, governments and the UN —a sentiment reflected here on Black Star Green.

Held strong by themes of support, guidance and reporting, the focus of cooperation is a direct call to action for non-Party stakeholders, (like us!) to join the battle for planet Earth through implementing effective systems and inspiring public discussion.

NEW OVENS WORKING TO DECREASE GGE's

Inspired by the actions of companies like Pingala, EARTHPOWER and other local innovators, Black Star Pastry officially began their journey into sustainability with an Energy Audit by Green Living Centre and Huxham Energy Consulting, in September 2016. 

Our high-volume bakery has upgraded the ovens at our Newtown and Rosebery locations after the report highlighted energy as one of  BSP’s main greenhouse gas emitters. 

BSP choose the UNOX Baker Top for its ISO (International Standard for Standardisation) environmental management certification. This move not only decreases our carbon footprint but increases the capacity of our kitchen! It will be exciting to observe the resulting changes to energy ratings in the next quarter.

And so we begin!

Sustainability is something I have become quite passionate about. You might find this surprising as I don't look like a typical greenieAfter all, I like to dress well and drive a 1970 gas guzzling Volvo (it's a P1800 and oh so beautiful). 

I do, however, run a very popular pastry shop, Black Star Pastry, or as it is more commonly known, BlackStar. 

It's the kind of place that makes a lot of people very happy and we go through an enormous amount of food. For example, in order to produce our most famous item, the Strawberry Watermelon Cake with rose-scented Cream, we go through at least 1.2 tonnes of watermelon per week – most of which is rind, which we cannot use.

We aren't a patch on big manufacturers but to me the scale is awesome. I once calculated that if you laid out the amount of strawberry cake we make in a year it would cover a whole Olympic-sized stadium.

I am so very grateful things are going well, however I am at the same time aware that BlackStar's success comes at a cost. It is an unavoidable universal law that to create something, something else must be used up. 

The time to speak up has come, and I’m thrilled to present our findings and steps towards creating a greener business model in this journal.

What I have discovered about sustainability is that what is true and what is myth is not as simple as it is made out to be. My journey into sustainability has really been a process of exploration and discovery, of learning more and more about the things we take for granted in this modern age. 

Few of us give a second thought to what happens to something after we toss it into a bin. For that thoughtlessly discarded piece of garbage, that moment is actually the beginning of a new journey, one which may have any number of destinations. 

Does it get recycled? Does it go into landfill? If it's a piece of food waste, does it end up in compost or go to feed pets? And why should we care anyway? Surely it has already given up its usefulness and there is no longer any value attached to our unwanted rubbish?

I realised that even though I was into "sustainability" I knew hardly anything at all about the topic, except for a few simplistic bylines like "recycling is good" and "shop local". The moment my eyes opened to just how little I knew about sustainability was for me like a kind of rebirth.

Since then, our efforts towards sustainability have been catalysed through research, self learning and talking to experts. We are progressively understanding how to balance what we take with what we give in a practical, realistic way and wish to share our lessons with others.

This is the story of BlackStar's journey into sustainability. 

It is a story of growth, of understanding how to be an environmentally-minded corporate citizen, and how we can build the depth of our Green over time with each new understanding. 

Our final destination is to build the most sustainably run pastry shop I can, but even that target is not very well defined. Will we ever get there? No, I don't think so, there will always be better ways of doing things, finer understandings to gain. It is a great story so far, one which I hope you too will find interesting. And one which might also lead you down the path we chose. 

I am by my nature an optimist, and one who believes that it is not too late for our species or this planet. Together we can turn the tide of environmental destruction. It will be slow at first, but we can make a difference as we work together to change minds, behaviours, and systematic standards. 

To the journey!

-Christopher Thé.