Upcycling waste celebrated at Australia’s top sustainability award

A company that has reimagined the value of waste from water and sewerage has won gold at Australia’s longest running and most prestigious sustainability awards.

Icon Water, which supplies water and sewerage services to the Australian Capital Territory (ACT), took home the Gold Banksia Award at an online event for the 32nd annual Banksia Sustainability Awards last night.

Owned by the ACT Government, the water utility’s resource recovery program ‘No opportunity wasted’ recovers by-products from water and sewerage management such as sludges, soils and biosolids.

By re-using agri-ash, spoil and water treatment solids, recovering sand and producing soil conditioners Icon Water minimises waste to landfill (for example, 11 kilotonnes of agri-ash and spoil diverted from landfill in 2019-20 and is now enhancing soils on local farms) and in doing so actively contributes to the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) for Responsible Consumption and Production (SDG12).

Icon Water won the Large Business Award before claiming the ‘best of the best’ Gold Award.

“The Banksia judges admired Icon Water’s innovative and holistic approach to resource recovery,” said Banksia Foundation CEO Graz van Egmond.

“Icon Water has shown great leadership in the water industry, by adding to the industry knowledge of alternative solutions to landfill, providing examples of sustainability in action, and winning the support of regulators.”

Ms van Egmond said the company had shared their learnings and included local businesses in their impressive sustainability and environment activities.

She said many of the other category winners also demonstrated innovative solutions to reduce waste and support a circular economy. All entries explain how they align with SDGs – the global framework for sustainable development from the United Nations designed to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all.

“Reducing waste, repurposing goods and closing loops emerged as themes among the finalists in this year’s Banksia Sustainability Awards,” Ms van Egmond said.
Icon Water is joined by 7 other category winners. Other winners include the World’s Biggest Garage Sale, Yume Food and residential development Arkadia. See the full list of winners below

Banksia Small Business Award Sponsored by Australia Post

Yume Food, VIC

Yume is a fast growing, award-winning, social enterprise which has built an online marketplace where suppliers can list stranded surplus food and sell it to commercial buyers in the food industry. Yume has diverted 2,300 tonnes of food from going to waste. These efforts support SDG 12.

Banksia Medium Business Award sponsored by Currie Communications

Arkadia by Breathe Architecture in partnership with DKO Architecture and Oculus, VIC

Arkadia heralds a new wave of large-scale residential developments that focus on a holistic understanding of sustainability. In partnership with DKO Architecture and Oculus, Breathe Architecture founded the project on three key design pillars: community, environment and architecture. Arkadia supports SDGs 7, 11 and 12.

Banksia Large Business Award & Banksia Gold Award

No opportunity wasted by Icon Water, ACT

ACT water utility company, Icon Water, has an innovative resource recovery program called ‘No opportunity wasted’. The program’s eight initiatives include waste management and monitoring systems, reuse programs for agri-ash, spoil and water treatment solids, glass sand recovery, producing soil conditioners and more. This work aligns with SDGs 6, 8, 9, 11, 12, 13 and 17.

Banksia Government Award

Environment and Liveability Strategy by Sunshine Coast Council, QLD

Sunshine Coast Council’s Environment and Liveability Strategy allows the council to guide growth and shape the future of the region to 2041. It strikes a balance between the natural and the built environment, while supporting a strong economy and diverse communities. It aligns with SDGs 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15 and 17.

Banksia NFP & NGO Award

FEAST Program by OzHarvest

OzHarvest developed FEAST – the Food Education and Sustainability Program. The year 5 and 6 curriculum-aligned program inspires kids to eat healthy, waste less and become change-makers in their local community. It uses the latest teaching and learning strategies. FEAST aligns to SDGs 2, 3, 4, 9, 12, 13 and 17.

Banksia Community & Charity Award

Millennium Kids Inc, WA

Millennium Kids Inc is a youth-led organisation that has encouraged young people to explore, identify and address environmental and sustainability issues in the local, regional and global communities for 25 years. Its work supports SDGs 1, 3, 4, 8, 10, 12, 13, 16 and 17.

Banksia Research & Academia Award sponsored by SUEZ

Placemaking Sandbox by The University of Melbourne and the Place Agency Consortium, VIC

The Place Agency is an online sandbox for placemaking. It’s where people come to invest space with meaning and create thriving urban places that connect people to nature and country. The Place Agency Consortium is formed by academics from the University of Melbourne, The University of Adelaide, Curtin University, The University of Queensland, the University of Technology Sydney, Notre Dame University and the University of New South Wales, and 14 industry partners. Its work supports SGDs 2, 3, 4, 5, 9, 14, 15 and 17.

Minister’s Award for the Environment sponsored by Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environemnt 

Resource Recovery Partnerships by World’s Biggest Garage Sale in partnership with Officeworks, QLD

In partnership with Officeworks, the World’s Biggest Garage Sale (WBGS) activates the circular economy to provide positive benefit to the environment and people. WBGS has opened Australia’s first Circular Economy Precinct in Brisbane, where it takes dormant goods from community households and businesses and renews, repairs and Precinct in Brisbane, where it takes dormant goods from community households and businesses and renews, repairs and repurposes them. WBGS supports SDGs 3, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10, 12, 13 and 17.