Sussex becomes first Australian tap manufacturer to be certified carbon neutral

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Media Release

With a commitment to ‘make it right’, Sussex becomes the first tap manufacturer in Australia to be certified as carbon neutral, marking a major milestone in a decade-long path towards sustainability.

The Melbourne-based company is the first tap manufacturer in Australia to be certified as both a carbon neutral organisation, and the first to offer certified carbon neutral tapware, achieved in partnership with Climate Active.

Certification has been achieved using a range of active and passive emissions reduction strategies, including offsetting 1,133 tonnes of carbon emissions via wind farms, to ensure Sussex has a net zero carbon footprint. In addition to being the first and only Australian tap manufacturer to reuse all waste metal materials, Sussex’s emissions reduction strategy in 2021 includes goals to reduce packaging, landfill, water and electricity usage, as well as to recycle 85% of materials each year.

In 2017, there were approximately 53.7 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions produced by the manufacturing industry in Australia.

Climate Active is a partnership between the Australian Government and Australian businesses to drive voluntary climate action. The certification—which is understood to be one of the most rigorous in the world—is awarded to businesses and organisations that have achieved a state of net zero emissions.

Sussex’s Director Vanessa Katsanevakis says the certification marks the largest step yet on the manufacturer’s journey towards sustainability—one that she hopes will inspire others in the Australian manufacturing industry to take more ambitious steps towards environmental responsibility.

“Our story is built around a family endeavour: to build an Australian business with sustainability at its heart. Creating sustainable and ethical solutions is key to our collective future. We have always wanted to face this challenge with a promise to do it the right way,” says Sussex’s Director Vanessa Katsanevakis.

“The right way is tied to our belief that world-class manufacturing begins with respect for people and the environment. We have held a bold and ambitious target to be the first tapware manufacturer in Australia to be carbon neutral by 2021, and we are enormously proud to have worked with the industry leaders in Climate Active to make that a reality,” she continues.

Sussex Taps joins an esteemed list of leading Australian businesses that have gained certified carbon neutral status through Climate Active, including Canva, Westpac, Aesop and AGL.

“We are proud Sussex Taps has made the choice to be part of the Climate Active network. As our first carbon neutral tap manufacturers, Sussex Taps has joined a network of climate leaders, working within their sectors to drive change. Reducing emissions is a shared responsibility and it is encouraging to see Australian businesses like Sussex Taps doing their bit,” says Climate Active spokesperson Katrina Maguire.

Sussex was founded 25 years ago by a jeweller-turned-watchmaker, Nicholaas Johannes van Putten. It is one of the largest tap manufacturers in Australia to own and operate its own foundry, where brass shavings captured during the manufacturing process are melted down to create the blocks that form the basis for each tap.

Vanessa, Nicholaas’s daughter, took over the company in 2011 in the wake of the Global Financial Crisis, when she immediately faced an early challenge in her young leadership of Sussex: take the company offshore to compete on price, or maintain its local footing and invest in renewable energy, marketing and design. She chose the latter, and in 2018 was awarded Young Manufacturer of the Year by the Victorian Manufacturing Hall of Fame.

Today, Sussex employs over 65 staff at four locations across Melbourne’s north, where the company manufactures more than 400 unique products across seven core collections within a vertically-integrated manufacturing system that ensures every component is made locally. In the 2019–2020 Financial Year, Sussex sold more than 59,000 products.

“For Sussex, sustainability is about investing in the future, and that means three key things: investing in people, investing in Australia and investing in our product. From the craftspeople we employ to the solar energy we use, sustainability is approached through a simple yet powerful proposition: to make it right,” says Katsanevakis.

“By committing to keeping production onshore, we’ve not only removed the need for international shipping in our production line, but we’ve also preserved and built dozens of jobs for local artisans. Every tap we make passes through the hands of a seasoned craftsperson, and that has never changed,” she continues.

Known for its in-house mastery of design customisation and array of finishes, Sussex has become a firm favourite of Australian interior designers, architects and developers, including Nightingale Housing (for whom Sussex is their preferred tapware supplier), Elenberg Fraser, Three Birds Renovations and Biasol.

“We pursue excellence in all facets of our business, and are continually building on our legacy of local craftsmanship and innovation,” she continues.

The certification from Climate Active is a major milestone in Sussex’s near decade-long sustainability journey. In 2013, two years after Katsanevakis took over the business from her late father, the company conducted its first waste, energy and manufacturing audits to set it on a path towards more responsible operations.

Between 2016 and 2020, Sussex has installed LED lighting upgrades at all four of its facilities, leading to greenhouse gas emissions reductions of at least 30% at each site. Sussex houses 273kw of solar panels which will reduce current carbon emissions by 16%—332 tonnes per year—which is equivalent to taking 100 cars off the road.