In this blog posting we hear from former President and Life Member of the Chamber, Paul Moynes on the background to his company, Eco Guardians, winning at the recent Melbourne Awards and his experiences of the Chamber as it continues to grow and evolve.
(IACC) You've recently been recognised in the Melbourne Awards. Tell us about what that means for Eco Guardians?
(PM) We received the award for “Contribution to Sustainability by a Corporation". The recognition of 5 years diligent work, developing and marketing a concept for diverting food waste from landfill is really satisfying. We were competing against some very strong contenders but what carried us through was the recognition that we have “skin in the game” in the sense that Eco Guardians backed up its belief by financing initial trials and taking a risk on some short term rental contracts. Pioneering can be a lonely place sometimes but the award really cements our proposition in place and enhances our credibility as we expand our approach to prospective markets.
Your award was based on the successful work you did around Melbourne's iconic Degraves Street. How did the project come about and what impact has it had on the city?
The Degraves St area has dozens of restaurants, coffee shops and juice bars in narrow laneways. Dealing with waste was always the responsibility of each business and there was no master plan. It led to to a plethora of unsightly bins cluttering the lanes, multiple garbage truck journeys into and out of the area on a daily business as well as the risk of odours from food waste and the potential attraction of vermin. None of these outcomes is desirable for one of the city’s important tourist attractions. We must gibe credit to City of Melbourne for concept of the Resource Recovery Centre that has now been established where, among things, they dehydrate all the food waste from the area in our GaiaRecycle machine which converts into a nutrient-rich fertiliser that is utilised around the city for the beautification of our Parks and Gardens.
Melbourne is planting 3000 trees per year for 10 years to bring down the temperature by 5’C in heatwave periods. We are delighted that our by-product is an enabler of this process. And in the meantime, Degraves St is noticeably less cluttered, many tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions have been eliminated by diverting the organic waste from landfill. So far, the reduction is equivalent to taking 200 cars off the road annually. The City and Eco Guardians hope that other precincts will follow the concept of Degraves St and we can report already that other municipalities are also evaluating how they can roll out a similar solution.
Your company is active in international trade both with Ireland and in a wider European context as well as through Asia. What are the challenges of running a business active across so many regions?
We are spread very thin, and we recognise this, we have so many projects and potential projects in Victoria, it is a challenge to keep focused across the regions. We are currently addressing these issues with the assistance of a number of advisors and intend to have a business plan in place by the end of March 2015.
What are the next steps for Eco Guardians? Will we be seeing any other major projects coming down the line soon?
Yes, indeed you will, can’t go into too much detail at the moment as there are confidentiality agreements in place but suffice to say they will establish Eco Guardians as a truly national company.
You're a Past President and Life Member of the Chamber. How has your Chamber involvement supported your business over the years?
Absolutely, and it has been the case for over twenty years, like most things in life though what you get out of the chamber strongly correlates with how involved you get. The chamber these days is much different from my days as President, so many young professionals have come out from Ireland in the past six years or so and they have mixed in really well with their Australian peers, giving the Chamber a totally different character, a much more professional outfit, but you know I still find it to be good fun.
Your daughter has recently become a member. How has the Chamber evolved in recent times to appeal to younger Irish Australian professionals?
As I said above the chamber has a totally different feel to it these days, Cara worked as a “volunteer” at many IACC functions when she was at school so she has certainly had the exposure but the truth is she became a member so she could apply for the mentoring intake in 2015, I think it is beyond doubt that the mentoring scheme has been the most successful initiative in the Chamber’s history, I take my hat off to you guys, well done!
Last month the Chamber launched the inaugural Irish Australian Business Awards at a function in Sydney with Minister Deenihan. Given your recent success in the Melbourne Awards, will you be tempted to nominate?
Yes, we will give it a go for sure, I think the Irish Australian Business Awards could well be the next great initiative from the Chamber and we want to be part of it, win or lose!
You can follow Eco Guardians on Twitter @EcoGuardiansAU