Friday, June 21, 2024

New industry-led program launched to accelerate transition to circular economy

An innovative new program has launched to encourage, support and recognise manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers that have sustainability and social impact at their core will provide much needed relief from the cost-of-living pressures, while at the same time fast track the circular economy.

However, according to Good360 Australia, a charity focused on giving new unsold products a first life to benefit people in need and the environment, governments need to support the program to achieve its full potential and, in doing so, need to rethink how they fund charity groups.

Developed with the support of the Australian Retailers Association (ARA), Good360 has launched its Inner Circle program to help retailers, wholesalers and manufacturers meet individual sustainability goals through a structured program with actionable goals.

Founder and Managing Director of Good360, Alison Covington AM, says while industry has embraced the opportunity to increase their community impact, it was critical for governments to get behind Good360 Inner Circle for it to better relieve cost of living pressures, achieve zero waste objectives and better utilise funding to the not-for-profit sector.

“Since launching, Good360 has been working with industry to ensure some of the $2.5 billion of brand-new household goods – such as whitegoods, electronics, clothing, furniture, books and more – that is otherwise wasted or sent to landfill gets into the hands of people that need it the most,” Ms Covington said.

“Over this time, it became clear to us that many retailers, wholesalers and manufacturers are increasingly directing their strategy and investment towards sustainable and responsible growth and that is why we decided to extend our efforts by offering them a structured approach, where they will have access to data and impact reporting on their community and environmental contributions.

“We now need the state and federal governments – all of which committed to work with industry to achieve a circular economy by 2030 – to show their support and commit to $5 million in funding for five years to enable us to have a self-sustaining program with positive social and environmental outcomes,” she said.

“We have built a model that will enable us to become a self-funded organisation after five years of funding to provide much of the estimated $2.5 billion worth of goods that are currently being wasted or ending up in landfill to people in the community in need.

“We will be giving a first life to products, supporting the increasing number of people in our society that are struggling and at the same time doing good for our environment for many years to come.

“Each year, governments spend more than $400 million to fund charity organisations to purchase the same goods that are being wasted to help people in need. By working with us, this money could go towards other initiatives to support the most vulnerable in our society,” Ms Covington said.

Businesses who become partners of the Good360 Inner Circle program will receive regular data and impact reporting covering their environmental and social contributions, plus be awarded a Good360 Inner Circle badge that publicly recognises their sustainability and community impact outcomes.

These partners are required to demonstrate a clear commitment to sustainability and social impact in the way they operate as a business and make an on-going commitment to donate goods or services and funding to amplify the program’s impact, volunteer staff and expertise and share their impact with customers, employees, and stakeholders.

Australian Retailers Association CEO Paul Zahra says the ARA is excited to work with Good360 in the establishment of the Inner Circle program to pursue the common goal to accelerate the transition to a circular economy.

“Good360 Australia has an innovative business model that connects donations of pre-consumer excess inventory to where it is most needed in the community across Australia, which provides a strong pathway towards zero waste while creating social good,” Mr Zahra said.

“The launch of Good360 Inner Circle takes that to the next level by publicly recognising retailers that are building a more sustainable future where all goods produced have a first life, nothing of value goes to waste and sustainability and social impact is more ingrained into the fabric of businesses.”

The Good360 Inner Circle initiative has received strong support from the retail industry, with some big names including BIG W, Best&Less, Gildan, koh, Edgewell, Linen House and Winning Group becoming founding partners. It’s expected that there will be a further 50 plus business partners committing to the program by June 2025.

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