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Australian business on board with water sustainability

Australian businesses managers overwhelmingly support sustainable water initiatives, according to a recent study of attitudes among managers and decision makers key to such projects.

The study, commissioned by CST Wastewater Solutions, found Australian industry is convinced of the potential financial viability of sustainable energy and water initiatives, albeit disappointed with the failure rate of such projects in Australia and New Zealand so far.

“100% of our respondents strongly or somewhat agree that they are 'passionate' about sustainability,” CST Wastewater Solutions Managing Director Michael Cambridge said.

"Over 90% of respondents believe their CFO is receptive to sustainability initiatives with a strong cost justification."

The managers surveyed went a step further and said they supported not only renewable energy projects, but also clean water sustainability initiatives including electricity generation from wastewater.

Respondents from Production, Engineering and Sustainability (PES) management showed strong faith in the economics of sustainable investments, with over 90% disagreeing with the idea that profits and sustainability are mutually exclusive.

Continuing the picture of optimism towards environmental initiatives presented in the report, over 80% of the respondents agreed that environmental initiatives were a “genuine investment priority,” with almost 60% agreeing strongly.

The report is the result of 60 in-depth interviews with senior executives from industries – food and beverage, agribusiness, resources, energy – that have strong potential for renewable technologies such as wastewater-to-biogas.

While many respondents said sustainability could be financially viable, over 50% of end-users and-two thirds of the consultants interviewed said there was a “major gap” between the goals and outcomes of sustainability, and “major shortcomings” in sustainable energy and water projects particularly around financial payback.

The study found CFOs and engineering managers particularly sceptical of “over-cooked” sustainability claims, and of vendors using ethical leverage and environmental concern to urge buyers to spend while ignoring their real business needs.

Cambridge said such scepticism is often justified as less experienced operators move into the sector now that clean water and renewable energy have become key issues in the community.

“It makes it hard for those of us who present realistic proposals and later are left to clean up the mess created by others,” he said.

“But we are pleasantly surprised to see how Australasian management is responding positively to environmental challenges. The report is very positive.”

CST Wastewater Solutions provides combined biogas and wastewater treatment plants to Australian industry, and recently installed a plant for one of Australia’s major global beef processors, Oakey Beef Exports.

A full copy of the report can be viewed here.