glebepictureframes intends to be Australia’s first carbon neutral picture framing business. In order to be able to claim carbon neutrality we have minimized our carbon footprint by applying the clichéd maxim: “reduce, re-use, recycle” to the materials we utilise, and then offset the remaining carbon emissions we are responsible for through the purchase of carbon credits.
Carbon is emitted when a material in which carbon is stored, such as wood or paper, is burned or allowed to decompose (usually after being disposed of and sent to landfill). Greenhouse gasses such as carbon dioxide (CO2) are released at each stage of the production chain - glebepictureframes is part of a long chain of manufacturing processes, at the end of which are our customers - and every manufacturer in the chain has their own carbon footprint for which they are responsible.
Materials we use and the implications they have for our carbon footprint are summarized below. If we are the end user of the material (i.e. we dispose of it) we are responsible for any CO2 emitted. Greenhouse gasses (GHGs) produced through manufacturing, transportation, etc prior to the arrival of the materials at our door are the responsibility of businesses further back in the production chain, and similarly our customers are responsible for any GHGs released when they dispose of the final product (the framed picture), and the stored (or sequestered) carbon is then released into the atmosphere, perhaps in many years time.
Reduce: At glebepictureframes we try to keep our waste timber to an insignificant level. Although popular wooden mouldings are always kept in stock, we are often able to purchase frames cut to size from our suppliers, in which case we have no wastage at all. When we cut the mouldings in-house we have a strict method of measuring to ensure that off-cuts are minimal. Old picture frames removed from customers art and no longer required are put out by the front door on Saturday afternoons. Passers-by collect them for their own use (or so we assume, as they're usually gone by Tuesday!).
Re-use: There is little opportunity to re-use the timber off-cuts, so the disposal of these contribute to our carbon footprint.
Recycle: The timber off-cuts are too small to be of value to recyclers.
Offset: Due to our efficient methods, we estimate a wood waste of less than 2 or 3 kg per week. This (for want of a better method) we offset by purchasing carbon credits from Greenfleet.
Paper & Cardboard
Reduce: Matboard is only purchased as required. Barrier paper is purchased economically by the roll. We purchase no paper for the wrapping of customers’ framed pictures. A quantity of cardboard is received as packaging on goods supplied to us – we encourage our suppliers to limit their use of packaging to a minimum and use recycled cardboard. When practicable we receive bills by email.
Re-use: Off-cuts of matboard are used for smaller custom framing jobs or for pictures for sale at our premises. Smaller off-cuts or unusable pieces are sent to local primary schools for use by children in craft projects or to Reverse Garbage, where surplus materials of all types are redistributed and used by other individuals (please click on their logo below to visit the Reverse Garbage website for more info). Small off-cuts of barrier paper are used as notepaper. Much of the cardboard we receive in packaging can be re-used, especially the boxes in which matboard is delivered – we make folders for ourselves and our customers, and use it to protect frames for transportation.
Recycle: Matboard which cannot be re-used is sent for recycling, as is unusable packaging, envelopes & junk mail. Note that the processing of paper products sent to the recycler then forms part of the recycler’s carbon footprint – the next step in the paper’s production chain.
Offset: Only a negligible amount of paper is disposed of.
Reduce: 2mm picture framing glass comes in a range of sizes. The larger the sheets ordered, the less the wastage. We have a system for ensuring the most economical usage, but being located in a nineteenth century terrace building we are only able to stock glass in 920 x 1220 mm size. When larger pieces are needed we buy it in cut to size (with, therefore, no waste).
Re-use: Smaller glass off-cuts are kept to be used for smaller jobs.
Recycle: To the best of our knowledge clear float glass cannot be recycled in Australia and therefore must be disposed of.
Offset: There are no GHGs released as glass does not decompose and it has negligible carbon, if any, sequestered within it.
Reduce: Plastic is used at glebepictureframes for two main purposes: acrylic “plexiglas” is a UV blocking, light-weight, unbreakable alternative to glass; polypropelene “corflute” is a moisture-proof & acid-free backing protection – an alternative to acid-free foamcore. Both are purchased in larger sheets than glass and we optimize their usage in order to keep costs and waste to a minimum. Some plastic is received in packaging, mainly bubble-wrap and plastic matboard bags. We encourage our suppliers to keep the packaging to a minimum. We don’t purchase any plastics for packaging customers framed pictures.
Re-use: Off-cuts of acrlylic and polypropelene are used by local schools & child care centres or sent to Reverse Garbage. Approx 95% of bubble-wrap received in packaging is re-used (a small amount is unusable) for wrapping customers’ work, as are the plastic matboard bags when possible.
Recycle: To our knowledge the plastic products used at glebepictureframes cannot be recycled locally. What is not re-used is collected by a private waste disposal company.
Offset: It is difficult to estimate the GHGs that may be emitted from the plastics disposed of by glebepictureframes. For the purposes of off-setting we guess less than 1 kg is thrown out per week, and calculate it’s effect on the environment the same way we do for wood, for want of a better method.
Reduce: We limit the amount of electricity we use where possible. Equipment and lights (low wattage led and fluoro) are always turned off at night. Where possible we use hand tools in preference to electric machinery – i.e. we have no electric saw; mouldings are cut by foot-operated guillotine. The glebepictureframes vehicle is a modern diesel model which achieves a low fuel usage (av. 5.6 l / 100km). No other energy types are used.
Re-use: Not applicable.
Recycle: Not applicable.
Offset: The producer of the electricity we use is responsible for the carbon emissions associated with its production process; using the power does not release further GHGs. However, we purchase 100% green power from our electricity provider in order to encourage the development of alternative energy sources (see the Greenpower website for more details). We offset fuel by annually purchasing carbon credits from Greenfleet using their calculating tool; they plant trees across Australia in order to recapture an equivalent amount of CO2 from the atmosphere (see the Greenfleet website for more details).
Reduce: Water is used for diluting paints, washing brushes & hands, making tea & coffee, occasionally watering the plants and, of course,flushing the toilets.
Re-use: Not applicable.
Recycle: We have no set up for recycling water.
Offset: Not applicable.
Reduce: In the interests of both the environment and economy we purchase only what we need and keep wastage to a minimum.
Re-use: Not applicable for most accessories (backing tape, d-rings, adhesives etc). Material such as foamcore can sometimes be re-used here, smaller off-cuts go to Reverse Garbage.
Recycle: Accessories are generally small items which cannot be recycled. Foamcore is not a recyclable material due to its construction (expanded plastic foam sandwiched between two layers of paper).
Offset: In an attempt to account for the quantity of miscellaneous materials and foamcore that are disposed of each week we purchase additional carbon credits from Greenfleet.
In following the procedures above glebepictureframes aims to achieve carbon neutrality. However, in order to discourage sceptics from supposing that this claim is merely a marketing tactic, we take further steps to demonstrate our green integrity, as listed below:
- In an additional effort to offset the GHGs resulting from our operation we have planted more than 300 native trees and shrubs on our block of land at Katoomba in the Blue Mountains National Park (for any botanists reading this, there may be a list below one day!).
- A small part of our profits are donated to The Wilderness Society and the Australian Conservation Foundation.
- Customers often bring artwork for reframing which is already in a serviceable frame. These usable but no longer wanted frames, often with glass, mats, backing, etc are put out at weekends and collected by locals, thus they are recycled!
- We avoid purchasing from environmentally irresponsible suppliers and when we have a choice will always opt for the greenest alternative. We give preference to plantation-grown or sustainably managed timbers for our hand finished frames. Synthetic (plastic) picture frame mouldings are available on the Australian market as a cheap alternative to wood. We do not use these because a) their manufacture takes a much higher toll on the environment than wood does, and b) they look tacky!
- We intend to trial a worm farm so our organic waste can be broken down naturally and used on the veggie patch at Katoomba!
- We also support local community projects such the Glebe Art Show and Get Off Your Arts; fundraisers for local schools & kindys, Mission Australia and Opera Australia; and contribute to charities including World Vision, Save the Children, the ACF, the Australian Red Cross and the SES.
· An assessment by the National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting System (NGERS) Calculator (an initative of the Australian Government Department of Climate Change) indicated that glebepictureframes falls below the thresholds for greenhouse gas emissions and energy consumption required for NGERS registration.
· The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has published a guide to the laws relating to environmental claims titled “Green Marketing and the Trade Practices Act”. We at glebepictureframes have read this document (available at http://www.accc.gov.au/) and believe that we are not in breach of any laws in making our above claims, which are made in good faith. However we'd be happy to change or remove a statement if it can be shown to us that we are in error in any way.
· There are a number of organizations offering various forms of “green certification” to Australian businesses wishing to make public statements about their green credentials. The Good Environmental Choice Australia (www.geca.org.au) program is an example. Others can be found by websearching “green certification” or similar wording. Many of these are oriented towards products rather than businesses, and all involve expensive and time consuming assessment procedures that are impractical for businesses as small as glebepictureframes to undertake.
· The majority of businesses in Australia are small or micro in size, operate in the service/retail area and lease the premises from which they operate; but it seems from my limited research that programs to assist businesses to become more environmentally friendly and give them accreditation for their achievements in this regard are directed at large companies or products, or both. I therefore have not sought certification from any of these organizations. Is there a place for local councils, perhaps, to offer some kind of simple assessment & certification scheme?
Disclaimer - the above notes were put up some time ago - government regulations may have changed in recent years.
Glebepictureframes intentions remain unchanged.
Below is a copy of a letter we recently sent to our suppliers, encouraging them to be more environmentally friendly:
168 St Johns Rd
Glebe NSW 2037
As you are no doubt aware, issues such as climate change, sustainability, and carbon trading are currently prominent in the media. As a result, the public has become increasingly aware of the necessity for industry and business to lessen their impact on the environment.
With this in mind, at glebepictureframes we are planning to minimise our carbon footprint through a number of measures soon to be detailed on our website. One of these measures will be to give preference, whenever possible, to suppliers who are making similar efforts to be more environmentally responsible.
We’d be grateful if you’d let us know what (if any) policies you have in place to reduce your company’s impact on the environment. Policies you may be implementing or considering might include:
following the maxim: “reduce, re-use, recycle” for all materials purchased
offsetting fuel and other energy used in the course of business
obtaining power from a clean energy source (solar, greenpower, etc)
the use of reusable or at least recyclable packaging
staff education to ensure employees understand the importance of these measures
ensuring the mouldings manufactured and distributed by your company are sourced from plantations or sustainably managed forests, and not rainforests.
If you haven’t yet considered these matters, may we urge you to do so. The time may soon come when legislation will require all businesses to be more environmentally responsible, and those of us who plan for this now will be in a stronger position when that time comes, gain a marketing advantage over our competitors and, of course, help combat global warming.
Looking forward to your reply…
Picture framing Inner West Sydney Picture framing Annandale Picture framing Balmain Picture framing Birchgrove Picture framing Camperdown Picture framing Chippendale Picture framing Darlington Picture framing Haberfield Picture framing Leichhardt Picture framing Lilyfield Picture framing Newtown Picture framing Petersham Picture framing Pyrmont Picture framing Rozelle Picture framing Ultimo Picture framing Sydney.