Speakers & Program


Keynotes – February 20 & 21, 2020


Professor Veena Sahajwalla, UNSW 
Microfactories ™: Our Secret Weapon in the War on Waste     
Veena discussed the roll out of safe, cost-effective ‘waste to value’ solutions via her unique microfactory concept, which brings the solution to the (waste) problem for the first time. In future, these decentralised microfactories will enable big and small operators to produce many of the products, materials and resources they need locally, using resources largely derived from waste. This new approach promises to disrupt today’s highly centralised, vertically integrated industrial model and its mass global markets, as agile, scale technologies drive the decentralisation of manufacturing, with positive economic and social impacts


Vaughan Levitzke, Green Industries SA
Recyclable, clean and green, biodegradeable, sustainably sourced, environmentally friendly, and consumes no oxygen
Greenwash’ is a common term used to describe many false claims, however these claims extend far beyond the environmental performance of a product or service.
The world of advertising and marketing has provided us with the amazing perception that not only are we as individuals and as groups of people, not beautiful enough, unable, poorly educated, lack the necessary equipment, are underwhelming and generally poorly prepared for anything, it has the capability through products and experiences to fix these problems, and also make us and even our pets feel (much) better.


Brooke Donnelly, APCO  
Working towards reducing the environmental impact of packaging in Australia
The Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation (APCO) is a not for profit organisation working to reduce the harmful environmental impacts of packaging on Australian communities. In 2018 APCO was charged by government to deliver the new National Packaging Targets and make all packaging reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025. To achieve this goal, APCO works closely with government and industry to deliver a range of sustainable packaging initiatives, including design, recycling, waste to landfill reduction and circular economy projects. Recognised as one of Australia’s leading product stewardship organisations with a strong national and global collaborative network, APCO is committed championing sustainable, environmentally friendly packaging solutions and building a circular economy in Australia. In partnership with Planet Ark and PREP Design, APCO developed the Australasian Recycling Label, a new evidence-based recycling system to take the confusion out of recycling and give Australians the confidence to start recycling right.


Professor Robert Costanza, ANU
The True Costs of Production and Consumption 
In the current Anthropocene epoch, human economies and societies are increasingly interconnected and interdependent with the rest of nature. It is essential that we better understand and model these interdependencies if we hope to create a sustainable and desirable future. One approach to this is full cost accounting, which attempts to estimate the true costs of production and consumption, including long term environmental and social costs, and use this information to inform and modify behaviour at the individual, firm, and societal levels. This talk discusses methods to estimate true costs, including input-output analysis, life cycle assessment, and dynamic systems modelling. It also discusses methods to use this information including labelling, taxes, environmental profit and loss statements, banks and insurance, and investment funds. Greater transparency about the true costs of production and consumption can go a long way toward achieving the sustainable and desirable world we all want.


Dr Brandon Gien, Good Design Australia
The Greatest Design Challenge of Our Time 
There is no doubt that we are transitioning to a world that is set to experience exponential advancements in science and technology while on the other hand, one that continues to grapple with big issues such as climate change and inequality, to name but a few. The relevance of applying a design mindset to these challenges is now more critical than ever. A mindset that will allow us to imagine a better, brighter and more sustainable future and one that provides a framework to design our way towards it in the most sensitive, efficient and practical manner possible.


Dr Robert Gianello, Planex
Waste powder coat powder: diversion from landfill to the circular economy
Powder coating is a type of coating that is applied to manufactured products such as steel or aluminium furniture, window frames and building panels and roofing. Unlike conventional liquid paints, it is sprayed on as a powder and then cured with heat to give a tough durable finish. The powder is made of polymer (e.g., polyester) and minerals and coloured pigments.

Spraying the powder onto target surfaces gives over-spray (the target is missed) and a portion of this cannot be used so it is wasted. The waste goes to landfill either as the powder, or as solidified clumps, or it can be incinerated at high temperature. The first option is cheapest; last 2 options are relatively very expensive.
Planex views the waste powder as a ready-made microplastic. Estimates of the waste powder going to landfill in Australia are 3,500 t/year, and may exceed 100,000 t/year worldwide. If and how it is contained within landfill sites is unknown.

Planex decided to divert 2/3 of its waste powder from landfill by using it to make counterweights for its furniture. We are pursuing a solution for the last 1/3 of the waste powder. Our work aims to bring attention to an unspoken side of powder coating, and explore solutions for the industry. Instead of landfill it could go to the circular economy with benefits including recovery of monomers, fuel, minerals and importantly, not dumping microplastics to landfill.


Parallel Sessions – February 21, 2020

Theme: Environmental Impacts – Policy & Assessment

Dr Ian Overton, Deputy CE, Green Industries SA
Measuring the Circular Economy – towards company and product metrics to empower consumers
A global Circular Economy is a world that creates, distributes, sells, uses and recycles products in a sustainable manner, reducing the reliance on natural resources, reducing environmental impact, using clean renewable energy. A Circular Economy aims to design out waste and pollution while increasing product longevity, and recycling and repurposing resources. The goal of a Circular Economy is to manage production and consumerism for an ecologically sustainable future, but how do consumers know that the products and services they are using make a difference? There are various methods for measuring a Circular Economy but what will empower consumers to make informed choices in the products they purchase? How can Circular Economy metrics support consumer transparency to enable transition to more responsible production and consumption. This presentation reviews current methods of measuring the Circular Economy and considers what is needed in the development of metrics for clarifying the sustainability and environmental impact of companies and products.


Rose Read, Director and Co-Founder, Ewaste Watch Institute
Next Level Policy Shifts to Address Electronic Waste in Australia
A bold and informed approach is required to adequately address the generation of waste associated with consumer products, including specific attention to electrical and electronic goods. As the fastest growing waste stream in the world, Ewaste Watch is seeking to accelerate electronics sustainability by way of informing, educating, engaging and activating key stakeholders to achieve next level change through more circular thinking and action.
This paper will focus on the importance of policy and regulation that is required to enable more substantial shifts to circular electronics with a focus on new design thinking, the significance of reuse, repair and product life extension, and the mainstreaming of alternative business models that give practical effect to the sharing economy and dematerialisation.
We will discuss these issues within a global context and SDG 12, but also propose specific settings to enable Australia to transition to increased levels of transparency directly associated with the policy and regulatory reforms needed at a Commonwealth and State level.


Janet Salem, PhD Candidate, University of Sydney and Programme Officer, UNEP
Policies towards sustainable lifestyles in Asia
Governments are including policy goals on sustainable consumption in their development strategies, but how do these goals compare with the impacts of national consumption patterns? The IPCC warns that we are headed to climate collapse if we go beyond a warming of 1.5 degrees. Nature based solutions (eg reforestation) and technology solutions (eg low carbon energy) are necessary, but now insufficient to stay within 1.5 degree warming. Sustainable consumption is now an acknowledged part of climate change mitigation strategies, as well as the Sustainable Development Goals.

This paper will review policy goals in the world’s largest and fastest growing region, Asia and the Pacific, to compare the ambition of sustainable lifestyles policy goals with the per capita carbon and material footprint trends. Carbon and material footprint indicators provide additional transparency to territorial per capita emissions, and provide useful insights into the contributions of lifestyles to global environmental issues, regardless of where the emissions occur in the supply chain. This type of data is generated using multiregional input output tables, such as EORA, developed at the University of Sydney. Potential applications of footprint data to strengthen policy goals and implementation instruments will also be explored.

Theme: Consumer Knowledge – Improving Transparency

Dr Aaron Davis, University of South Australia
Blockchain-based transparency in the building industry: A potential symbiosis between BIM, LCA and DLT
The construction of new buildings is responsible for 6.3% of global greenhouse gas emissions each year (IPCC 2014) yet finding accurate information about the environmental impact of construction materials can be difficult. One way of better understanding these impacts is through the integration of this data into the Building Information Model (BIM) processes (McGraw Hill 2014). A BIM includes spatial dimensions, as well as data about time, cost, operations and sustainability (Kirkham 2015). One of the key challenges in incorporating sustainability information into BIM-based processes is sourcing data that has not been aggregated at a regional or national level (Sen, Ongsakul & Popoon 2018). Blockchain provides an opportunity to shift the management of this data from centralised databases to individual chains of custody that more accurately capture and reflect environmental consequences (Sen, Ongsakul & Popoon 2018). However, the extent to which it is possible to integrate these approaches into current BIM-based construction management processes is not clear. To this end, this paper presents the results of a systematic review that analyses the extent to which blockchain has been described in relation to BIM literature and finds significant gaps in our current knowledge about how this may take place.


Anthony Peyton, Director, PREP Design
PREP: increasing transparency of packaging recyclability
The Packaging Recyclability Evaluation Portal (PREP) is the world’s first and only packaging design tool that covers all consumer packaging materials and provides designers with immediate feedback on a design’s recyclability.

PREP reflects the recycling eco-systems in Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom and is currently being adapted for the Singapore market. This simulation means that users now do not need to conduct laboratory and recycling centre trials for each new design to know whether it is recyclable; PREP provides the transparency needed to accelerate the design of recyclable packaging, one of the 2025 National Packaging Targets.
The Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation (APCO) launched the Packaging Recycling Label program in early 2018 with Planet Ark and PREP Design. Since then over 200 businesses have voluntarily joined the program and applied the Australasian Recycling Label (ARL) to the packaging artwork, which is underpinned by the PREP classifications.

APCO has formed a Technical Advisory Committee, which is responsible for the PREP assessment framework for packaging sold in Australia and New Zealand. This governance arrangement ensures that the PREP increases the transparency over time, including being able to readily adapt to market change.


Genevieve Cother, Business Development Manager, The Action Learning Institute
What SME manufacturers want: communicating environmental impacts to non-specialist product designers
This paper explores the needs of small to medium enterprises (SMEs) competing in local and global markets, for relevant information to inform design decisions for their product/service systems. A recent action learning program, delivered in Tasmania, provided insight into a diverse range of businesses and their product design processes. Participants expressed frustration about the lack of information available about materials (including imported subassemblies/components and associated packaging), their environmental impacts, and potential end-of-life scenarios. Three case studies examine and compare the current situation in diverse businesses, and more generally in each industry represented; a poultry farm and processing facility, an agri-tourism business manufacturing proprietary souvenirs, and a visual management business manufacturing and installing signage. Each business takes a different approach to product and service design, with little specialist knowledge or experience of sustainable production. Direct feedback on the potential effects of greater transparency of the environmental impacts of consumer products, across local and global supply chains, is presented and discussed. Recommendations to support non-specialist designers in SME manufacturing companies to pursue sustainable production are put forward.


Dr Robert Crocker, University of South Australia
Transparency and the Paradox of Growth
As a number of commentators have noted, large corporations now play a disproportionate role in determining the consumption of resources and energy required for the production of goods for consumption. They lead the pack in terms of shaping markets and their environmental and social impacts. Many of these companies are now trying to reduce the environmental impacts of their products, but will simultaneously announce plans to expand and grow their business, often in different reports. This somewhat paradoxical stance is often assumed to be a form of greenwashing. However, it mirrors a global version of the Jevons ‘paradox’, where particular products might become more eco-efficient and less ‘carbon intensive’, while increases in the consumption of these same products will still be occurring. For example, an airline might achieve a 1% reduction in their environmental impact over one year whilst increasing the sale of seats on their planes by 4% over the same period. As this suggests, the global footprint of most companies’ activities is rarely mapped and understood by their stakeholders, and even more rarely by their customers. Not surprisingly, corporate commitments to transparency tend to be limited to what can be announced without shame. In this presentation the role of greater transparency in cutting through the shame barrier, and embracing innovation towards more sustainable outcomes will be reviewed. An attempt will also be made here to describe the inherent synergies between greater transparency and the development of both the circular economy and the more likely achievement of SDG 12, ‘enabling patterns of sustainable production and consumption’. It is argued here that transparency can thus play a critical role in reducing both environmentally damaging growth and global emissions.

Theme: Everyday Products – Transparency in Food Systems

Dr Zoe Doubleday, ARC Future Fellow, Future Industries Institute, UniSA
Establishing a global framework to trace the provenance of seafood and combat fraud – can we do it?
The UN’s Food and Agricultural Organisation has flagged that global demand for food is set to increase by 70% over the next 30 year. Yet, diminishing supplies of fresh water and arable land mean that agriculture is unlikely to meet this entire need. One possible solution, which particularly answers to the critical need for protein, can come from seafood. The FAO states that we are more reliant on seafood than ever before, consuming twice as much seafood as we did 50 years ago, a rate of increase that is outstripping demand for beef. However, 90% of the world’s fisheries are either overfished or have reached maximum capacity. This threat to fisheries sustainability, and the resulting shortage of seafood, can be inextricably linked to tracing the provenance of seafood. Tracing provenance empowers authorities to combat seafood fraud, which allows illegal and unsustainable fishing activities to go unchecked. I will seek to address this global challenge in my new Future Fellowship project. In doing so, I will combine fundamental disciplines (ecology, geochemistry) with solution-driven disciplines (seafood forensics) and attempt to create powerful, universal markers of seafood provenance, which are based on the intrinsic chemical properties of the animal.


Charles Ling, PhD Candidate, UniSA
Modelling the carbon footprints of food waste diversion options in Melbourne, Australia
It has been estimated that 7.3 million tonnes of food waste were generated in Australia in 2016/17 with over 44% of it going to landfill where it creates methane, a potent greenhouse gas. In 2017, all governments in Australia adopted the National Food Waste Strategy committing them to reduce Australia’s food waste by 50% by 2030 in line with the UN’s Sustainability Development Goal 12.3. While government, industry and the general community are seeking to address the vexed problem of food waste, there is a general lack of consumer knowledge amongst policy-makers and waste managers to how best to compare the options to prevent avoidable food waste or to divert unavoidable food waste from landfill on a carbon-reduction basis.

As part of the CRC for Low Carbon Living Food Waste project, a carbon footprint tool is being developed to give food waste stakeholders in the commercial kitchen space, more consumer knowledge to identify the least-carbon options to diverting their food waste from landfill. The tool includes a range of carbon burdens such as transport, operational and biological emissions and carbon benefits such as renewable energy, carbon sequestration and avoided production.


Dr Niki Wallace, University of South Australia
Building communities through networks of transparent food systems
As the food system in the Global North is increasingly centralised, its transparency is increasingly obscured. In the Fleurieu Peninsula region of South Australia, farmers and food producers face increasing pressures on their farm gate prices and suffer from weak connections between the local community and their produce. Much of the food being produced in the region is exported out of it, creating the conditions for a food desert, and further risks from the impact of climate change could add to the financial pressures faced by farmers and food producers in the region. This paper focuses on a small group of food producers, food consumers and a retailer from the region who appear to have built a food community around a transparent food system. Interviews with people from this community provide data that indicate there are both challenges and benefits that arise from increased transparency in small-scale food systems. Themes of respect and trust are emerging from this data and both suggest that high-functioning interpersonal relationships play a key role in fostering these values. Analysis also revealed an interconnection between trust, respect and transparency. This was noted in interviewees’ descriptions of a struggling farmer’s market, where locals had lost trust in the market due to a lack of transparency around produce gluts and subsequent impacts on freshness due to produce storage. Conversely, the transparency being embraced by each interviewee appeared to attract greater respect from their customers. Their transparency made inconsistencies in supply quantities, price points or end-products more acceptable, and increased the trust between them and their customers. This examination of how an engaged community of people can connect through transparent food systems is framed as an early indicator of Ezio Manzini’s concept of ‘cosmopolitan localism’. The paper questions how this sense of community might be amplified and extended throughout the region in ways that maintain the values of trust and respect, to create a greater sense of transparency in the food system.


Dr Li Meng, University of South Australia
Consumer preferences and farmer’s sustainable growth: Sustainable indicators and measurements
The food industry consists of multiple players such as farmers, suppliers, manufacturers, packagers, transporters, exporters, wholesalers, retailers and consumers with varying interests, cultural attitudes and dimensions. Sustainable food is generally defined as a fair price for the agriculture producer and an affordable price for the consumer, produced through the sustainable use and management of natural resources, providing an appropriate livestock living environment and the quality of life for humans while also integrating the priorities of agriculture and the needs of citizens. Information on the sustainability of foods is important to be transferred from growers to consumers in food purchasing. This paper reviews past and present literature to illustrate what is perceived by a sustainable food label by consumers and how that can be measured and controlled by the farmers. The results found there lacks comprehensive and measurable benchmarking for sustainable food labels, especially in regard to sociodemographic and cultural differences in preferences and operational feasibility for farmers and processors. These imply more research is needed to focus on quantifiable food labels which show a food’s carbon foot print in production transportation and waste handling that can satisfy consumers information requirements and to improve the sustainable food industry.




Program Catalogue (pdf 0.8MB)

Transparency Project Program Catalogue



Program Schedule

Program Day 1 and 2


Program Parallel Sessions


Please note that changes to the program can be made without prior notice. Please check the website for latest updates or contact the organiser if you have any questions.