Sowing the seeds of sustainability

The future of food production rests on a more sustainable approach to agriculture that gives equal weight to environmental, social, and economic concerns, without compromising the finite supply of natural resources on the planet.

Currently, approximately half of the world’s habitable land consists of farmland, while an ever-increasing need for animal-based products, fruits, and vegetables is expected to see demands exceed more than 60 per cent of current production levels by 2050 to a projected world population of 9.3 billion people – according to estimates compiled by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).1

The need for sustainable action in farming and food production is evidenced by this data, says Leon Stefanec, Motion Australia’s National Business Development Manager for the Food and Beverage sector. “It has never been more critical for businesses to demonstrate that their values are purposeful when it comes to environmentally responsible processes and products,” he says. 

And yet, Leon emphasises that sustainable agriculture is certainly not any single well-defined goal for anyone. 

In fact, the definition of sustainability has evolved over the past several decades to become less of a guideline for businesses and more of a set of mandated actions, he explains, “Across industries, this will require businesses to continuously update their equipment and processes to align with ever-changing best practices in sustainability.”    

“This is why in the current industrial climate it is so important that solutions providers like Motion Australia bring to the table a strong working knowledge and host of technical capabilities in the area of sustainability. This will help our group of businesses and our customers’ businesses work better toward the goal of net zero emissions.” 

“A few of the ways we hope to achieve this is by putting sustainability targets into practice across our own business,” Leon furthers. “We can do this by implementing greener energy in our warehouses and improving our outputs in terms of waste across our supply chains.”

“We also want to work with our customers, partners, and suppliers to encourage greener processes and products that use fewer natural resources, improve energy efficiency, reduce waste, and eliminate eco toxic chemicals from production as much as possible.”

A significant endeavour considering Motion Australia is responsible for distributing more than 600,000 unique products from more than 2,300 suppliers from around the world. 

This is particularly significant with the recent consolidation of all of Motion Australia’s iconic brands under one masthead, which includes a national network of more than 110 branches consisting of CBC, BSC, Hardy Spicer, AIP, CRAM, Seal Innovations, SpecFast, Walterscheid, Sealing Solutions, and Webster BSC locations. 

As a wholly owned industrial solutions provider with unmatched coverage of products and services within the Australian market, the scope of Motion Australia’s sustainability transition will be vast across their businesses.

“This opens the door for a lot of conversations with both our suppliers and customers about how to reduce their carbon footprint,” says Leon. “But it also means that we have access to a much broader range of relevant skills and expertise across our network.”  

Motion Australia’s National Product Manager Steve Keown notes that there has been a growing interest over the last decade in products that contain biodegradable and natural materials. 

“Suppliers who manufacture products such as lubricants, oils, cleaners, and degreasers are well-positioned to address environmental concerns,” he says. 

“These types of products play an important role in the performance, reliability, and overall efficiency of parts and machinery on any operation, and customers who opt for environmentally accredited products can more readily meet their environmental targets by ensuring the products they are using are responsibly sourced.”

“Quite a few of key suppliers and strategic partners have made commitments toward achieving net zero by 2050 by developing new ranges of products that are formulated from raw natural and biodegradable ingredients,” says Steve. “These same suppliers have also been taking steps to make their production and manufacturing facilities more sustainable by converting to renewable energy, using recycled materials, and introducing more sustainable packaging.” 

One example of this, according to Steve, is Viva Energy, the exclusive macro distributor for the world leading energy company Shell in Australia.

Viva Energy Australia has a mandate they call ‘Goal Zero’ included in their Statement of Commitment to Health, Safety, Security, and the Environment that commits the business to monitoring performance and procedures on all operations through rigorous environmental assessments and the implementation of greener technologies.  

From the Viva Energy portfolio of products, Shell Dobatex – which includes the Aqua Degreaser, Gold, and Platinum – is an organic, water-based cleaning range specifically developed for use on industrial applications that meets the Australian standard for Biodegradability, compliant with AS 4351.2.

“The Dobatex products are a range of completely organic and non-toxic range of degreasers that can be used for cleaning equipment without degrading polished or metal surfaces,” explains Steve. “They are some of the most premium biodegradable products on the market right now.” 

In addition to this, Steve notes that Shell’s Naturelle range includes several environmentally acceptable lubricants (EALs) and biodegradable hydraulic fluids. 

“In the event of a leak or accidental spillage on site where there is the risk of groundwater contamination or impact on the local ecology, products such as the Shell Naturelle Fluid HF-E are advanced biobased solutions that are classified under the EU Ecolabel for Lubricants as non-toxic to bacteria, algae, freshwater, and marine invertebrates,” he explains. “This is good if a customer has a piece of hydraulic equipment that is operating in a sensitive environment that requires operations to have low ecotoxicity.”   

When it comes to more sustainable solutions, Steve says that the agriculture industry has made a lot of progress, but it is still a long road ahead to achieve net-zero. 

“Customers in the agriculture and food and beverage sector have only recently started to overcome a few of the most common misconceptions about sustainability,” he concludes. “The most common being that it costs more to operate sustainably in the short-term. At Motion Australia, we are trying to promote more awareness about the long-term benefits of investing in sustainably sooner rather than later. To reach environmental targets we all have to pay it forward by investing a little more up front, to ultimately see greater returns in the future.”    

References: 

1. José Graziano Da Silva. United Nations – Feeding the World Sustainably, https://www.un.org/en/chronicle/article/feeding-world-sustainably