Marine protection, sharing economies, green buildings, Indigenous employment and climate action feature strongly in the crop of finalists in the 2019 Banksia Sustainability Awards.

The Banksia Foundation has today announced the shortlist for the awards, which spans 10 categories and celebrates sustainable development by businesses, communities, individuals and governments.

The finalists include:

  • A project using drones and artificial intelligence to protect endangered plants
  • A holiday tour company which encourages travellers to adopt sustainable habits
  • An Indigenous-led partnership delivering joint-management plans for state parks
  • A local government using carbon offsets to restore grazing land for use by koalas
  • A charity working with a community to develop a model of sustainable housing

Winners in each category, including the overall Gold Award and a special Minister for the Environment Award, will be announced at a gala ceremony at the Hyatt Regency, Sydney, on Tuesday, 3 December 2019.

The Banksia Sustainability Awards are the longest-running sustainability awards in Australia.

The prestigious awards are aligned with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), a set of global goals to end extreme poverty, fight inequality and protect the planet.

“A highlight this year is the number of entries from young people in small businesses who have embraced the SDGs with a passion,” says Banksia Foundation CEO Graz van Egmond.

Established more than 30 years ago, the Banksia Sustainability Awards are the first and foremost sustainability awards in Australia. The awards recognise individuals, communities, businesses and government for innovation and excellence in environmental and social stewardship.

The Banksia Sustainability Awards gala ceremony brings together and celebrates the most innovative, effective and outstanding people contributing to sustainable development in Australia.

Summary information on the finalists

Organisation Entry name Description Location

Small Business

ASPIRE ASPIRE ASPIRE is an online B2B marketplace which intelligently matches businesses with potential remanufacturer, purchasers, or recyclers of waste resources for a robust Circular Economy. ASPIRE has been developed in response to manufacturing companies talking to their local councils about high waste disposal costs, particularly those associated with increasing landfill levies. ASPIRE leverages Swinburne University of Technology, Data 61 & CSIRO’s expertise in industrial engineering and industrial ecology. VIC
eWater Systems eWater Systems eWater Systems is helping businesses around Australia reduce their reliance on harsh chemicals for cleaning and infection control. Using sustainable on-demand production technology, eWater reduces the need for chemical consumables, along with the compliance and waste issues that come with them. Proven and effective, eWater is the better choice for business, people and our environment. VIC
How Now Dairy How Now Dairy How Now Dairy aims to produce ethically sound but also commercially viable dairy products by creating ‘cow-centric’ solutions to ethical problems surrounding the mistreatment of cows and, in doing so, add a spark of hope to the rapidly decreasing number of dairy farms. VIC
Plastic Police Plastic Police- A circular economy solution for soft plastic waste Plastic Police is a recycling and engagement program which tackles the issue of soft plastics. It works with environmentally conscious organisations to collect soft plastics and reuse them into other new products while simultaneously engaging and empowering the micro-community with the goal of creating widespread change. NSW
Spell & The Gypsy Walk a Little Lighter Walk a Little Lighter is a program with a bid to establish a fashion business that is both ethical and environmentally sound through both the production of the clothes, using recycled materials and the resources used to run the business being renewable and sustainable. NSW
WISE WISE- It’s in your hands WISE’s quest is to eliminate the use of single-use plastic cups at sporting events and as an alternative, employ a system of buying and returning more robust and environmentally friendly cups that can be used multiple times while maintaining hygiene and ease of access to customers. VIC

Medium Business

Calix Calix Calix has developed a patent-protected “kiln” technology that produces highly active minerals. The minerals are used to improve waste-water treatment, biogas production and phosphate removal, help protect sewer assets from corrosion, help improve food production from aquaculture and agriculture with reduced chemical use and develop new battery materials. NSW
ELK ELK Roadmap to Transparency Fashion company ELK is working towards becoming a carbon neutral, zero-waste business, eliminating single-use plastics, supporting positive social change with ongoing donations to charities, offering sustainable products and ensuring transparency when mapping its supply chain and strengthening ethical- sourcing practices. In 2019 ELK released its first Transparency Report. VIC
Fun Over Fifty Fun Over Fifty – Our People and Planet Program Fun Over Fifty (FOF) is a multi-award winning, sustainable tour company operating luxury coach, rail, cruise and air holidays to travellers over 50 years of age, operating with 14 full-time equivalent staff. FOF’s vision is to be recognised as the most sustainable tour operator in Australia and to lead a more sustainable industry. QLD
Living Edge (AUS) Pty Ltd Living Edge Living Edge is one of the leaders in sustainability for Australia’s high-end furniture market. In 2018, Living Edge relaunched Living On. The sustainability program has shaped the business and become a benchmark for the industry, evolving with the new era of sustainability. NSW
Loving Hearts Child Care Centre Loving Hearts Child Care Centre – a Sustainability Showcase Loving Hearts is possibly Australia’s most sustainable childcare centre, with over 42 eco-friendly features. It is the first centre to achieve an Urban Development Institute of Australia (UDIA) EnviroDevelopment rating. The centre won the 2019 Queensland State Master Builders Excellence in Energy Efficiency and Environmental Management award. QLD
Large Business
Australia Post Everyone Matters: our plan for inclusive and sustainable prosperity Australia Post connects people, businesses and communities across Australia and the world. It was one of the first Australian organisations to embrace the SDGs. This year, the organisation launched a new Group Corporate Responsibility (CR) Plan, Everyone Matters: a plan for inclusive and sustainable prosperity. VIC
Coca-Cola Amatil Closing the loop at Coca-Cola Amatil Coca-Cola Amatil is the first bottler in Australia to offer 100% recycled PET packaging for carbonated beverages, and among the first for still beverages. All Coca-Cola Amatil bottles and cans are 100% recyclable. The company has also ceased distribution of plastic straws. NSW
Fujitsu Australia Limited Digital Owl – Saving our Species with drones and Artificial Intelligence ‘Digital Owl’ was developed by Fujitsu in collaboration with the NSW Government’s ‘Saving our Species’ program. This solution uses Artificial Intelligence (AI) to analyse high-resolution and hyperspectral images photos taken by a drone to ‘see beneath the canopy’, precisely pinpointing the population of endangered plant species. NSW
John Holland John Holland Group – Transforming Lives John Holland is delivering many of the infrastructure megaprojects under construction in Australia. The company’s sustainability initiatives seek to reduce inequality by supporting refugees and marginalised people to enter the infrastructure industry, deliver projects innovatively and trial new technology with the potential to significantly reduce the energy use of our cities. VIC
Officeworks Officeworks As part of its journey towards zero-waste to landfill, Officeworks set a target to recycle at least 85% of all waste generated across stores, distribution centres and support centres by the end of the financial year, 2018-2019. The company’s Western Australia region lifted recycling rates from 64% to 88% last financial year. VIC
QBE Insurance Premiums4Good Premiums4Good is an initiative that sees global insurer QBE integrate social value with business value by connecting insurance customer premiums to growing demand for impact investments – investments which deliver a market rate financial return and deliver an additional social and/or environmental benefit. NSW
Transurban Bringing the Global Goals to life through our reimagined Sustainability Strategy Transurban has a vision is to strengthen communities through transport. It has 17 toll roads in Australia and North America. The company has embraced the SDGs in a new sustainability strategy (People, Planet, Places and Partnerships) which is fuelled by an ambition to help address the world’s most pressing social and environmental challenges. VIC


Tiny Trowel Tiny Trowel Tiny Trowel is a participant in Crowd Harvest: Seeds for Christmas, a social media campaign which empowers Victorians to grow their own food and reduce waste. As part of the campaign people are called upon to send small packets of food seeds in Christmas cards to resource centres and social enterprises which serve vulnerable and disadvantaged members of the community. VIC
City of Gold Coast City of Gold Coast External Environmental Offset Program – Simplifying Offset Delivery The City of Gold Coast has partnered with Energex Queensland to deliver a koala offset under their State approved environmental offsets policy. The offset was required to provide a substantial patch of koala habitat, for impacts associated with a range of minor tree works on the Gold Coast. After five years of offset planting there is strong evidence of koala foraging across the 21.9ha site. QLD
Department of Planning, Industry and Environment Sustainability Advantage: catalyst for engaging NSW organisations on the SDGs Sustainability Advantage is the NSW Government’s flagship business program for enabling sustainability leadership and practice. The program works with individual organisations and industry sectors to realise tangible sustainability outcomes. Over the past 14 years it has supported over 800 medium and large business, government and not-for-profit organisations to raise their ambitions, access funding and implement sustainability projects. NSW
Environment, Planning & Sustainable Development Directorate, ACT Government ACT Healthy Waterways ACT Healthy Waterways – a $93.5 million partnership between the Australian and ACT governments – is improving water quality in Canberra, and downstream in the Murrumbidgee. The project has constructed 20 new water quality infrastructure assets. These ponds, wetlands and rain gardens contain pollutant traps, ponds and 600,000 new plants that are expected to intercept 1900 tons of sediments, 14 tons of nitrogen and 2.4 tons of phosphorus respectively per annum from stormwater. ACT
Level Crossing Removal Project The Level Crossing Removal Project brings climate change resilience to life The Level Crossing Removal Project is removing 75 dangerous and congested level crossings in Melbourne by 2025, and, importantly, it is also acting on climate change. A key to this project is future-proofing infrastructure to deal with the rising temperatures and more extreme weather events, including higher flood risks, associated with climate change. VIC
Sunshine Coast Council Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve – BioBlitz 2019 The Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve BioBlitz was an interdisciplinary biodiversity conservation research and community engagement project. A diverse team of scientists, artists and Traditional Owners worked together at the reserve to research and celebrate biodiversity, from the floor of the forest to the emergent canopy, in what was Australia’s first vertical bioblitz. QLD
Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF) Victorian Branch Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF) Victorian Branch The ANMF Victorian Branch is supporting nurses, midwives and carers to mitigate climate-change and be environmentally responsible in their workplaces. Members who participate in initiatives, including forums, e-meet places and conferences, learn how sustainability and climate mitigation fits their role and professional codes and standards. VIC
CRC for Low Carbon Living CRC for Low Carbon Living The Cooperative Research Centre for Low Carbon Living (CRCLCL) is a national hub for research and innovation. It is the Australian built environment sector’s largest single initiative aimed at exploring low-carbon innovations that will support and enhance the sector’s efforts to remain globally competitive. NSW
FISH – Foundation for Indigenous Sustainable Health FISH – Foundation for Indigenous Sustainable Health There is an urgent need for a model of Indigenous housing that directly engages community, is sustainable, affordable, and easily replicated. FISH is a registered charity working with the remote Aboriginal community of Bawoorrooga in the Kimberley, WA, to create a national prototype for sustainable Indigenous housing, education, training, and enterprise. Constructing of the first SuperAdobe (earthbag) home is nearly completed. WA
ISCA – Infrastructure Sustainability Council of Australia Building better: driving sustainability in infrastructure The Infrastructure Sustainability Council of Australia (ISCA) is a member-based not-for-profit and social enterprise operating across with the purpose of accelerating infrastructure sustainability through collaboration. Established in 2007 by 19 industry organisations, the base has grown to over 130 members across industry, government, academia, and consultancy. NSW
Plastic Free Foundation Ltd Plastic Free July Plastic Free July (www.plasticfreejuly.org) started from humble beginnings that saw 40 participants in Western Australia grow exponentially to a global movement in 2019, with an estimated 230 million people taking the challenge and choosing to refuse at least one single-use plastic. The challenge is run by the independent not-for-profit, Plastic Free Foundation. WA
Renew Hepburn Z-NET The Hepburn Shire, home of the first Australian zero-net energy town, plans to be the first zero-net energy shire in Australia. Renew, a not-for-profit working in sustainability for over 35 years, has co-developed with the local community and dozens of project partners, an Australian-first and best practice model for how the shire can reach the carbon neutral goal within a framework of social and environmental justice considerations. VIC
SolarBuddy SolarBuddy SolarBuddy is a global community uniting to create a sustainable future for all people and the planet. Its goal is to gift six million solar lights to children living in energy poverty by 2030. SolarBuddy empowers its community to learn about the 1.4 billion people (one in five people worldwide) living in energy poverty, and make a practical contribution to help improve their health, well-being, connectivity and education opportunities. QLD
CIT Yurauna ConnXtions & Yurauna Early Childhood Centre CIT Yurauna works with Indigenous people to remove barriers to study and build on their strengths and community connections to further their own education. Yurauna Early Childhood Centre provides high-quality early education to Indigenous children from birth to five years. This partnership now stands as one of the ACT’s most successful projects fostering positive outcomes in employment and social inclusion. ACT
Dhelkunya Dja Land Management Board Manyangurr ngulumbara Dhelkunya Djandak Murrup – Returning good health to Country and Spirit The Dhelkunya Dja Land Management Board leads a partnership which has pioneered a unique planning model that puts Traditional Owner cultural authority and knowledge front and centre in the management of Aboriginal-title parks on Dja Dja Wurrung Country in central Victoria. The partnership has delivered an integrated, landscape-wide joint management plan for six Victorian parks. VIC
“Littlewell” Mingenew Aboriginal Reserve Group “Littlewell” Mingenew Aboriginal Reserve Group The “Littlewell” Mingenew Aboriginal Reserve Group was established to drive the dreams and aspirations of elders, young people and families from the “Littlewell” community. The reserve is a place of belonging for Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people where stories which recognise culture, history, recognition, language, heritage and identity are celebrated. WA

Research and academia

Monash University Buildings and Property Division Gilles Hall, Monash University Monash University hopened Gillies Hall – the first large-scale building in Australia to achieve Passive House certification. Incorporating a cross-laminated timber structure, rooftop solar panels and all-electric building services, the 150-bed residential building uses 100% renewable energy. It is expected to be over three times more efficient than existing residential halls. VIC
Monash University The Master of Environment and Sustainability – Innovating a new approach to interdisciplinary education and collaboration Monash University’s Master of Environment and Sustainability (MES) provides a blueprint for developing collaborative and innovative solutions that address global challenges such as climate change and widening inequality. The MES has a unique focus on all 17 Sustainable Development Goals, taught in ways that are experiential, transformative, and grounded in real-world experience. VIC
University of Melbourne Climate Reality – Diversity in the Asia Pacific, From Brisbane Climate Reality trains people to take a message of climate hope and solutions into their communities and workplaces. Over 1,600 individuals have been trained. The project has directly reached one in 40 Australians. In May 2019, working alongside the Queensland Government, Climate Reality co-hosted the first-ever state-led Climate Week which directly engaged 10,000 people. VIC
Minister’s Award for Environment
City of Gold Coast City of Gold Coast External Environmental Offset Program – Simplifying Offset Delivery In partnership with Energex Queensland, the City of Gold Coast has restored land cleared for cattle grazing to consolidate a koala habitat within a conservation area, planting over 96,000 plants across 21.9ha. The restored offset site provides an excellent link for koala movement across the landscape as well as reducing long-term park maintenance costs. QLD
eWater Systems Pty Ltd eWater Systenable Hygiene Systems – disrupting our dependence on synthetic chemicals eWater Systems is helping businesses around Australia reduce their reliance on harsh chemicals for cleaning and infection control. Using sustainable on-demand production technology, eWater reduces the need for chemical consumables, along with the compliance and waste issues that come with them. Proven and effective, eWater is the better choice for business, people and our environment. VIC
Plastic Free Foundation Ltd Plastic Free July Plastic Free July (www.plasticfreejuly.org) started from humble beginnings that saw 40 participants in Western Australia grow exponentially to a global movement in 2019, with an estimated 230 million people taking the challenge and choosing to refuse at least one single-use plastic. The challenge is run by the independent not-for-profit, Plastic Free Foundation. WA
Substation33 Substation33 Substation33 finds innovative ways to collect, recycle and divert eWaste from landfill and it assists at-risk youths and the long-term unemployed get back into sustainable employment. In 2018/19, it supported 600 volunteers to perform 80,000 hours of activity at its eWaste facility and diverted 200 tonnes of eWaste from landfill. QLD