Closing the Loop on Waste at GCCM

Sustainability seems to be the most used word among businesses in the last few years. Understanding how to establish a sustainable business economically and environmentally doesn’t always go hand in hand. Gold Coast City Marina & Shipyard (GCCM) has embarked on an ongoing journey to truly connect the two and establish an almost entirely circular economy within their 17-hectare shipyard.

A rather large undertaking, yet GCCM will not be starting at ground zero.

“GCCM have always led the way in sustainable shipyard initiatives like solar and water harvesting. We also partnered with the Seabin Project meaning we have one of the first Seabins in our marina,” explains Luke McCaul, GM Customer Experience & Property Management. “We are very proud of our current accreditations through the Marina Industries Associations.”

Accreditations such as a Level 3 Clean Marina, Fish Friendly, and the MIA 5 Gold Anchor where, out of 10 different criteria, environmental practices account for almost 15% of the total score.

We are one of the largest solar power marine facilities in the world

“We understand there is always more that we can be doing,” acknowledges McCaul.

Through connections with their current waste supplier, GCCM has now partnered with QUT and the department of a “Waste Free World.” The team at QUT and “Waste Free World” tend to harbour the idea that “one person’s trash is another person’s treasure” and believe their holistic research approach to understanding waste streams will ultimately lead to a waste free world.

“They draw on interdisciplinary scientific knowledge to develop technical solutions in parallel with social science knowledge to catalyse change and business to enhance the circular economy and eliminate waste,” explains McCaul, before going on to explain that through these processes they aim to create a circular economy within the GCCM shipyard and onsite businesses and ultimately reduce most, if not all, of the general waste.

GCCM began meeting with QUT in June and most recently held their first workshop in August. The gathering brought together key stakeholders within the shipyard and environmental industry, local and state governments, and QUT researchers all ready and willing to better understand what they may be able to do to reduce their impact.

With over 90 onsite tenants, the challenge seems to lie in the volume of waste being produced and how to appropriately dispose of it in a way that is effectively keeping it out of landfills.

“It takes like minds and it’s really great to see the participation of all the local businesses here that are starting to truly understand that what they refer to as waste is valuable and the resources are probably just in the wrong location right now,” said Rod Packer, Manager Strategy & Innovation in Water and Waste for City of Gold Coast. “Education is going to be key to getting the fundamental and structural change in the thinking in this organisation with regards to what can happen.”

The workshop, while highlighting how much work must be done to achieve their goal, proved to be educational and serve its purpose in connecting businesses with researchers and appropriate government bodies.

Dr. Amitoj Singh joined the workshop via zoom to explain the Aspire platform to attendees. Aspire acts as an online marketplace for businesses to post their ‘waste.’ Other users can then explore the items to potentially find resources they may be able to utilise or repurpose themselves. The ‘waste’ can then be given away or bought depending on the product resulting in a win, win for both parties involved in the transaction.

Through the City of Gold Coast membership, GCCM has onboarded with Aspire and already utilising the platform by posting items that would, more often than not, end up in the general waste.

The partnership between GCCM and QUT will ultimately lead to a clean marina, ocean, and surrounding environment while the economic impact on businesses will not be ignored either.

It is no surprise more sustainable materials can carry a higher price tag. Kevin Altera, GM Operations & Business Development at GCCM, assures businesses the changes are worth the cost.

“We have a superyacht in one of our work sheds whose owner was very interested in the environmental practises we already had in place here [at GCCM],” Altera explained at the workshop. “A lot of new owners are asking about recycled material, how do we make the boat greener, how do we stop pollution coming out of the vessel.”

These conversations have already been taking place at GCCM and their current environmental practises are resulting in several high-profile vessels choosing their shipyard over others on the East Coast of Australia.

“It’s very important we keep that conversation rolling and we’re being proactive,” assures Altera.

GCCM have been in operation for 21 years and plan to be here in years to come so a long-term sustainable approach to the environment is at our core and is becoming an important requirement for our customers. Being able to provide for these forward-thinking vessel owners, businesses and the environment come out on top.

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