Two years ago, we developed our Sustainability Plan 2015+ with a goal to go beyond 'systems and policies' by targeting specific operational issues.
Our plan contained 24 actions that sought to integrate sustainable practices throughout our business.
In 2017, we reported on progress in our Sustainability Review. The results cover the period from 21 October 2015—when the plan was first approved by the Hon. Mark Bailey (Minister for Main Roads, Road Safety and Ports, and Minister for Energy, Biofuels and Water Supply)—to 30 June 2017.
See how we're tracking against each of our actions, which are categorised into five themes:
Prepare position statement on operational implications of onshore power supply at our ports
Onshore power supply (OPS) is one of the strategies recommended by the World Port Climate Initiative for reducing the environmental impact from ship emissions in ports. When berthed, vessels require electricity to support activities like loading, unloading, eating and lighting. This power is generally provided by auxiliary engines that emit carbon dioxide (CO2) and air pollutants. An alternative option involves connecting the vessel back to the local, onshore energy grid. The potential for OPS at NQBP ports has been discussed in brief via Ports Australia Environment and Planning Working Group, but requires further examination.
Initial work has commenced on this with regards to preliminary review of OPS infrastructure requirements globally and current utilisation in various ports. The next steps are to determine the need for OPS within NQBP ports, the visiting shipping fleet and their suitability to connect to shore power, the scale of infrastructure requirements and to undertake a cost-benefit analysis. A position paper will be developed by the end of 2017 regarding the suitability of OPS for NQBP ports and the operational implications.
Prepare a position statement on operational implications of incentivising use of lower sulphur fossil fuels for vessels calling at our ports
The United Nations specialised agency with responsibility for the safety and security of shipping and the prevention of marine pollution by ships is the International Maritime Organisation (IMO). In 1973, the IMO adopted MARPOL, an international convention which covers the prevention of pollution in marine environments by ships, from operational or accidental causes.
Under recent revised MARPOL requirements, tighter regulations around low sulphur fuels apply within Emission Control Areas globally. The implications and applicability of these tighter standards are not well understood for the Australian market and the shipping lines that visit our ports.
Some initial investigation work has commenced regarding the application of the MARPOL regulation around low sulphur fuels. This work is on track to be completed by the end of 2017.
Revise Energy Management and Carbon Reduction Plan, NQBP's energy consumption trends and identify future GGE reduction targets for energy-intensive activities and spaces
NQBP developed an Energy Management and Carbon Reduction Plan (EMCRP) to meet the specified greenhouse gas reduction targets set by the Queensland Government in 2008. The Sustainability Plan 2015+ specified that the EMCRP be revised to re-focus our efforts in reducing emissions and exploring potential renewable energy opportunities. As a critical first step, we needed to identify our baseline – understanding the energy intensive activities across our operations. An energy audit was undertaken in 2016 to quantify energy consumption trends and understand energy efficiency.
NQBP has a small emission footprint and overall there has been a downward trend over the past five years. Based on this, further observation of the energy emission trend was undertaken for a 12-month period. Between 2015/16 – 2016/17, a 15% reduction in emissions was achieved.
Further identification of specific targets will be undertaken by the end of 2017 for application in 2018 onwards. These targets will be scientifically based and take into consideration the outcomes of the Paris Agreement (COP 21).
Research emerging renewable energy applications to identify potential opportunities and partnerships for NQBP
Following the energy audit in 2016, renewable energy options were identified for forward years based on existing NQBP operations and workspaces. The opportunity to include renewable energy technology (solar) for a new build project at the Port of Abbot Point was identified in 2016. This was an outcome of applying sustainable design principles into the design phase and ensuring the new asset aligned with the Sustainability Plan 2015+ key focus area of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and identify renewable energy options.
In addition to this pilot project, NQBP has developed a Renewable Energy Pathway. The pathway offers a pragmatic pursuit of emission reductions through energy savings measures, followed by installation of small-scale renewable technology in line with NQBP’s small emissions profile and modest funding. It considers partnering externally to influence more substantial outcomes through current and emerging technologies.
Develop a Resource, Reduction, Reuse and Recovery Program to apply across all aspects of port operations
A well-designed and adaptable waste management program contributes to all three pillars of sustainability. A Resource Reduction, Reuse and Recovery Program was developed in late 2015 as part of the Green Operations Program and is based on the waste management hierarchy. The program was intended to increase the reduction, reuse and recovery of waste; strengthen a culture of reuse and recovery; identify further opportunities to broaden waste recycling; and minimise the risk of environmental harm. The management of waste was one of the areas within asset maintenance that could be captured under the sustainability plan and the focus of the first version of the Green Operations Program. The program was rolled out to the NQBP Asset Maintenance team in late 2015 and has been implemented ever since.
Very positive results have been achieved so far, with a total of 22 tonnes of metal (primarily steel) and 155 tyres recycled. A reduction of chemicals and oil based products has been undertaken on a continual improvement basis by utilising products that are compatible with multiple plants used on site.
Contribute consistent annual information on shipping numbers, cargo trends and any other relevant issues to be a strategic partner in developing shipping policy in GBRWHA and Coral Sea
NQBP has been an active partner in the North-East Water Space Management Group (NEWSMG) since its inception in 2012. The original focus of the NEWSMG was on shipping safety and facilitating the efficient coordination of diverse maritime activities and uses of water space within the Great Barrier Reef, Torres Strait and the Coral Sea.
However, over time NQBP has worked with NEWSMG to expand the focus of the group. Given there are a number of shipping actions within the Reef 2050 Long Term Sustainability Plan, NQBP recognised the need to manage these actions in a consistent manner and worked to ensure that progress on Reef 2050 is a standing agenda item on all NEWSMG meetings.
In addition, NQBP also helped drive and establish a smaller working group which will be responsible for monitoring progress on Reef 2050 actions.
Implement change management and work practice changes required to maximise efficiencies of business systems and processes
NQBP has implemented many initiatives to improve the quality and consistency in assessing projects and in managing financial performance. A key initiative that had been developed is a new project management framework that aligns with PRINCE2 (Projects In Controlled Environments) Lite. PRINCE2 Lite is a structured project management method that can be tailored to any size or type of project.
Another improved work practice is financial management and reporting. The development of financial dashboards to facilitate overall budget management and monthly reports for the executive is an improvement practice that is more efficient and effective and provides greater transparency and simplification.
The identification of business improvements and efficiencies will continue to be an ongoing process within NQBP in the spirit of continual improvement.
Simplify or automate key business systems and processes
The NQBP leadership team has endorsed an assessment of key business systems and processes which identified Purchase Orders and MEX/Navision Integration as the two biggest opportunities for business process improvement. These two opportunities are now being evaluated to determine the best way to implement process/system improvements. It is expected that a recommendation be finalised by end of 2017.
Prepare a report outlining all relevant industry award programs (including financial incentive schemes) to determine feasibility and applicability for our ports
Green award programs are commonly used as an incentive for improved environmental performance of port users, particularly by shipping companies. For example, financial incentives can be offered to complying vessels. Incentives are becoming more commonly used throughout the industry; however, their applicability to the Australian and NQBP context requires examination. This will include investigation of a range of green award programs for various users (tenants, shipping lines, trucking). This work has been scoped and is on track for completion by the end of 2017.
Prepare a report outlining issues, costs and benefits of becoming a signatory to the World Port Climate Initiative
The World Port Climate Initiative (WPCI) was established by the International Association of Ports and Harbours (IAPH) in 2008. Fifty-five global ports are now signed up to the initiative, acknowledging their unique capacity as key hubs in global supply chains to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, while continuing their role as transportation and economic centres of global importance.
The scope of research work that looks at issues, costs and benefits of becoming a signatory to the WPCI has been finalised, with the report on track to be completed by the end of 2017.
Develop strategic, focused and science based long-term ambient monitoring program for each port
In accordance with continual improvement and a more holistic approach to environmental monitoring, long term / continual ambient monitoring programs have been developed and implemented at each of our four ports which cover the categories of water quality, benthic infauna and coral. The Mackay/Hay Point program includes both wet and dry season monitoring of corals to help gain a better understanding of seasonal changes in coral growth, coverage, diversity and health. Experts from James Cook University have noted aspects of the ambient monitoring program as proactive and world leading.
Establish an annual NQBP report card that corresponds to regional GBR reporting tools
NQBP developed and launched the Your Ports Environmental Report Card for 2015, which aligns with reporting methodologies used in broader Great Barrier Reef (GBR) tools. The report card will become a fundamental tool in forward years by helping NQBP manage the interface between port operations and the natural environment. The frequency of the report card is currently being reviewed to determine the most efficient and effective reporting structure.
Expand our marine monitoring program across GBR ports to align with broader, regional integrated monitoring programs
To build on the long-term ambient monitoring program at Mackay/Hay Point, additional monitoring sites have been established at Abbot Point. This program now covers around 200 kilometers of coastline. NQBP also maintains strong linkages to regional and reef-wide monitoring programs via our involvement with the Mackay Whitsunday Healthy Rivers to Reef Partnership.
The long term ambient monitoring program has been progressing well, with no key issues and excellent data captured across this broad region. Data analysis and reporting has been occurring quarterly to ensure the program is fit for purpose. The action around expanding our marine monitoring program is now completed; however, this ambient monitoring will continue.
Identify priority topics for new science and research programs
A two-phased methodology was used to assess potential new projects: ‘Identification of Screening Criteria’ and ‘Detailed Assessment’. Internal workshops were held to identify a list of research topics, which were then subject to the two-phase assessment. Based on this, the following five research topics were identified: Sediment Movement and Management, Coral Threshold, Wetland Biodiversity and Function, Coal Dust in the Marine Environment and Renewable Energy. As part of our management approach, we recognise the importance of continuous investment in new science and research.
Identify partnership opportunities with scientists, engineers and research organisations and a schedule of projects
Following the two-phase assessment approach developed in 2015 which identified the priority topics, NQBP has considered a range of partnership opportunities, both individually and also more broadly through industry associations such as the Queensland Ports Association and Ports Australia. This has provided a chance to examine issues at a much broader scale across the entire GBR.
This work is ongoing and will culminate in the development of a schedule of projects at the end of 2017. Moving towards this, many initial partnership opportunities (based on the priority topics) have been identified and include the Australian Institute of Marine Science, James Cook University, CSIRO, Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority and the University of Queensland. A schedule of potential projects is currently being finalised.
Determine feasibility of forward offset options
NQBP has undertaken preliminary work on mangrove habitat restoration at the Port of Hay Point with maintenance dredge material. This type of project has potential to be part of a forward offset strategy and the feasibility of such a project will be done around a pilot restoration program. If successful it will have significant offset capability.
In addition to this, NQBP is investigating other options for determining feasibility of offset options and is likely to engage specialist ecological expertise in this area to thoroughly investigate opportunities.
Develop a port-wide Climate Change Adaptation Strategy
Climate change has been identified by scientists as a key risk to the long-term health of the GBR. As a supporter of the PIANC ‘Think Climate’ Coalition adopted at the Paris Climate Change Conference (COP21), NQBP has continued to track the progress of the Coalition’s Navigating Climate Change Action Plan. A Climate Change Position and associated commitments has been established and approved by the board. Further to this, climate change risks are now included in the corporate strategic risk register. Work will be undertaken to determine the climate vulnerability of our ports and actions to mitigate and adapt to the risk. These elements will form a key part of a Climate Change Adaptation Strategy.
Investigate and determine NQBP opportunities to become a carbon neutral organisation
Following completion of the level 1 energy audit, we now have a better understanding of our baseline energy demands and opportunities to minimise energy use through operational efficiencies. In getting the foundation right and looking more broadly at port precinct energy intensity, a variety of options are available to NQBP in moving towards becoming carbon neutral. This forms part of the Renewable Energy Strategy and includes the implementation of the most cost-effective blend of renewables and/or purchase of offsets. Further work will be undertaken to identify which pathway to being carbon neutral best suits NQBP.
Implement sponsorship program targeting areas of community resilience, environment, education and training regional sustainability and culture
The NQBP board approved a new Port Communities Sponsorship Program in late 2015 outlining three categories of investment: community sponsorships, community grants (donations) and sustainable partnerships. Program criteria include: community health and wellbeing, environment, education and training, regional sustainability and culture and community.
To date a total of 14 projects have been supported. These included Volunteer Marine Rescue, Community, River to Reef projects, ANZAC day events, local Show sponsorship and school Learn to Swim programs. The Port Communities Sponsorship Program demonstrates NQBP’s commitment to supporting sustainable partnerships in community resilience, environment, education and training, regional sustainability and culture. Implementing the sponsorship program is an ongoing action which will be marked as complete for the purposes of this reporting.
Develop and deliver videos on NQBP’s environmental monitoring and sustainable trade
In 2015, NQBP developed three environmental monitoring videos on NQBP’s EcoPorts Program, seagrass monitoring and water quality monitoring. They were completed, issued and promoted publicly, hosted on NQBP’s website and are also available on YouTube. The final package of six sustainable trade videos were released in May 2016 and are available on the NQBP website and YouTube Channel. This now completes the specific action around the delivery of educational videos on the environment and sustainable trade. NBQP will continue to proactively communicate and educate stakeholders through a variety of media.
Develop teacher kits to be distributed to schools to drive community and children participation in environment and ports
Teacher kits were intended to be a means of providing valuable information about our ports and surrounding environment to the education community and work towards improving knowledge and understanding of ports.
Draft content was developed in 2016 and some initial engagement with Education Queensland undertaken. However, the finalisation of the education resources has been delayed given a broader consideration of what specific ‘product’ will be used in NQBP’s school engagements and how this aligns with NQBP’s broader community relations and external affairs strategy. We are currently appraising our community relations approach and will identify a clearer scope for the teachers’ kits and education resources to meet our broader community engagement objectives.
Develop 2nd stage of the Kommo Toero Trail at Port of Mackay
The maintenance of the Kommo Toero trail has been undertaken as a means improving its existing condition through weed management and general upkeep. A contractor has been engaged to upgrade the existing signage and this is expected to be completed in 2018. Following this work, NQBP will engage further with Traditional Owners regarding development of interpretive signage and the development of a broader Cultural Heritage Management Plan. It is important the enhancement of the Kommo Toero trail be holistic and encompass aspects of strong environmental management and Indigenous culture.
Coordinate an exhibition and competition of art from Weipa tribes
Focus on showcasing this art in Brisbane.This specific action around supporting and promoting Indigenous culture has been placed on hold to identify if there is opportunity to align it with existing partnerships or existing programs. We are also considering supporting and promoting Indigenous culture via other educational or teaching projects. Scoping work and potential options to progress this will be completed by the end of 2017.
Organise a Sustainable Ports Alliance with selected domestic and international ports to promote ongoing learning
The global nature of our industry allows the ability to share learnings and experiences. We are keen to share lessons and operational experiences from our bulk ports within important environmental areas and to draw from other global experiences. Continued education and ongoing learning throughout the industry is essential for sustainability. Some thinking has been done around which domestic and international ports could form part of a Sustainable Ports Alliances and work is progressing on this for finalisation before the end of 2017.
Investigate sedimentation in port catchments and identify options for reducing build-up to reduce dredging volumes and frequency
Work on the beneficial reuse assessment, environmental value assessment, review of port operations and shipping dynamics to understand the consequential impacts of sedimentation at the Port of Hay Point is complete. The findings indicate the majority of our maintenance dredge material is a result of long-shore drift and recirculation due to wind and wave energy, rather than inputs from rivers.
NQBP has progressed into further work to examine opportunities to reduce our overall maintenance dredging volumes and where possible, beneficially re-use any maintenance dredge material. At this stage, mangrove restoration through the beneficial reuse of material appears to be a feasible option for the Port of Hay Point.
Develop a maintenance dredging framework
During 2016, NQBP developed a maintenance dredging framework which detailed efforts to avoid and reduce dredging volumes and coordinate dredging activities in a manner that reduces environmental impacts. The framework consists of four phases:
NQBP presented this framework to the Department of Transport and Main Roads (DTMR) in 2016 and it subsequently formed the basis of the Queensland Maintenance Dredging Strategy (MDS) which was released in November 2016. The MDS now formalises this framework.
Prepare new port master plans and supporting land use plans for our GBR ports in conjunction with our port customers
In 2016, NQBP prepared draft Infrastructure Plans for each of its ports as an input into the state’s port master planning process. To assist the Department of State Development (DSD) in preparation of the Port Master Plans, NQBP has facilitated comprehensive fact-finding tours of the ports and provided information and reports on environmental monitoring, planning and economic studies. NQBP will continue to support the work of DSD in their preparation of Port Master Plans in the coming year. To ensure consistency with the Port Master Plans prepared by the State Government, NQBP will only prepare new Land Use Plans for each its GBR ports once the Port Master Plans for each priority port are published. This activity is expected to commence in 2018.
Identify methods to reduce freight truck traffic and points of conflict
Since the commencement of the Sustainability Plan 2015+, NQBP has worked with government agencies regarding infrastructure upgrades, such as the Vines Creek Bridge Mackay to allow higher mass vehicles for sugar, grain and fuel fleets. We also undertook initial consultation with rail providers to examine ways to retain rail share of cargo movements.
NQBP has worked with industry and the Department of Transport and Main Roads for strategic road improvements that service mines, to deliver increased vehicle capacity and lower traffic. Some work was also conducted around the rating of roads within the Port of Mackay boundary, with the aim to improve carrying capacity and reduce the number of traffic movements within the port. Investigation into increasing the axle load limits within the port has also commenced.
The Harbor Road East upgrade resulted in the installation of a pullout bay to assist with truck turning as well as general improvements to the road with resurfacing, removal of redundant rail lines, underground power and intersection realignment.
Actively participate in state planning programs to ensure efficient and well-protected supply chains
NQBP has been an active participant in state transport planning workshops associated with the development of the State Infrastructure Plan that aims to set a new strategic direction for the planning, investment and delivery of infrastructure in Queensland. NQBP’s trade and commerce team has been involved in consultation and workshops not only for the Mackay Isaac and Whitsunday regions, but also for the Bundaberg and Rockhampton regions.
Further to this, the team has been working with the Department of Transport and Main Roads on establishing a working group for the Mackay region for the State Freight Quality partnership. NQBP is also represented on the Queensland Transport and Logistics Council that aims to support the efficient movement of freight in order to support sustainable and productive economic development and prosperity. NQBP will continue to actively participate in state planning programs with regards to transport, logistics and supply chain efficiency.
Prepare sustainable design guidelines for port developments in conjunction with our strategic partners
NQBP developed Sustainable Port Development Guidelines to ensure a high standard of new development and ongoing-maintenance on NQBP land, while still providing cost-effective outcomes for development proponents. The guidelines encourage the incorporation of sustainable development principles and innovative design into new developments. They will ensure a consistent high standard of development across our ports, provide certainty to proponents about development expectations, help to protect the environmental values of the port and support NQBP’s vision of leading the sustainable development of Queensland’s ports.
Rollout a sustainability education and personal accountability system for staff
Following the release of the Sustainability Plan 2015+, a tailored sustainability education and accountability awareness program was rolled out across to all NQBP employees. Refresher training is scheduled for 2017. Additionally, every NQBP role description was amended to include the general responsibility around contributing to our sustainability agenda. A ‘value proposition’ was developed to assist with the understanding on the value of sustainability to our customers and to our business. Following the development of sustainability principles and associated metrics, further responsibilities and accountabilities will be allocated across departments.
Identify appropriate reporting and benchmark tools
There are a number of reporting methods and benchmarking tools available. The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) is a global framework used by numerous businesses to report their sustainability priorities and progress. Within the global port industry, only a few publish their sustainability reports in accordance with GRI; however, some ports follow some elements of the framework. This latter approach has been adopted by NQBP for this stage of our sustainability journey, to give a greater focus on reporting against our specific Sustainability Plan 2015+. This approach will be revisited in future years to determine whether a change of approach is appropriate.
With regards to benchmarking, there are also numerous tools available for specific industries, but none for port sustainability. In the absence of a specific tool, NQBP will identify appropriate metrics to provide a basis for future benchmarking. Sustainability principles have been established and approved by the board and associated metrics are being finalised.
Develop and publish achievements against this plan through annual sustainability report, incorporating feedback loop for shareholders
The initial target around publishing a Sustainability Review, detailing the achievements against this plan was based on calendar year. However, in order to align with strategic deliverables and to line up more directly with the end of financial year reporting, it was determined to develop this Sustainability Review until the 2017 financial year. In future years, the Sustainability Review will continue to follow the end of financial year model which also aligns with our annual report cycle.
Develop an Employer of Choice strategy that includes learning, talent and leadership development, flexible work practices and creating a diverse, inclusive and innovative workplace
A strategy for NQBP to become an employer of choice has been developed and approved by the board. The Employer of Choice strategy enhances NQBP’s organisational capability, systems and processes as it focuses on culture, leadership, performance, learning and employer reputation. NQBP is better placed to achieve its vision as a result of investment in its people and processes, building resilience, expertise, agile systems, responsiveness and innovation.
Identify and develop Green Office and Green Operations Programs to improve sustainable practices in our workplaces
In late 2015, NQBP developed a Green Office Program based on the Harvard Green Office model, which provided guidance on creating more sustainable workplaces. Harvard University is a world leader in sustainability. The program provides detailed green office initiatives with varying points. Since the adoption of the Green Office Program, Mackay and Brisbane offices have increased their sustainability by moving from a level one basis to a level two over a 12-month period. NQBP is now working towards achieving a level three status. One of the most significant achievements from the Green Office Program was the reduction of paper by 59% over a 21-month period. This resulted in significant labour and materials savings to the value of approximately $30,000.
In addition to the Green Office Program, a Green Operations Program was developed in late 2015, with linkages to the Resource Reduction, Reuse and Recovery Program. It focuses on waste management, chemical management, and engagement and education as a means of improving our operational sustainability footprint. The site with the greatest implementation was the Port of Mackay where the greatest operational workforce is based. There have been concerted efforts to reduce the number and quantity of chemicals being used and phasing out overlapping and obsolete chemicals, as well as using multifunctional chemicals to reduce the overall volume of chemicals within our ports.
Develop a digital strategy to improve business efficiencies, communications and engagement
A digital audit undertaken in 2016 identified many opportunities for NQBP to progress within the digital space. Following this, a digital strategy was developed, which recommended a pathway for the preliminary stages for NQBP to move to a more integrated digital business delivery model. At the core of this work is the development of a new website, which will have significant digital interaction content. Additional planning work was undertaken across digital elements that span community interaction, and capability will be provided to extend this to business interaction in the future.
The other elements of the digital strategy that are being pursued are an active effort to incorporate digital into business operations, such as mobile devices for the field workforce, digitisation of business systems and further dashboard development and reporting. Work around increasing organisational efficiency through the digital strategy and other business improvement efficiencies will continue and is expected to evolve over time.
Identify and review key policies and systems (environment, safety and risk) to ensure consistency with Sustainability Plan 2015+
Key policies and systems were reviewed early during the implementation of the Sustainability Plan 2015+, in particular around risk and environment. More recently, NQBP has rolled out Riskware, our business-wide risk and incident management system, which records and tracks actions from each of the key functional risk system areas including safety, environment and corporate risk. The use of this platform to capture, manage and share information relating to incidents and hazards aligns with the principles of sustainability and brings together the elements of the plan, whereby sustainability can be considered across the broader organisation context.