Eco awards recognise Aussie efforts



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The national Banksia Awards have recognised the year's most outstanding environmental efforts from 16 hard-working organisations and individuals.

Organised by the Banksia Environmental Foundation, an independent group promoting environmental best practice and solutions addressing major environmental issues, each year the awards recognise the best achievements and initiatives helping to preserve Australia's environment.

Taking out the top award at last Friday's Gala Dinner event - the prestigious Prime Minister's Environmentalist of the Year Award - was EarthWatch Institute, which was recognised for its work providing volunteer researchers and scientists to Australia's most deserving environmental projects.

The Australian Youth Climate Coalition was awarded the Environment Minister's Young Environmentalist of the Year Award for their work championing environmental issues on a local and global stage, with the goal of making young people environmentally responsible.

Shai Agassi, founder and CEO of sustainable transport company Better Place, was recognised as the International Award winner for his world-leading work developing infrastructure for electric cars.

"The caliber of [the] Banksia Award winners is just outstanding," said Graz van Egmond, executive director of the Banksia Environmental Foundation.

"The community groups, individuals and businesses who have each won a Banksia Category Award are...commended for taking environmental responsibility into their own hands and leading the way in their communities to achieving an environmentally sustainable Australia."

Other award-winners at the event were as varied as a Melbourne-based bakery that harnesses waste heat from refrigeration systems and freshly baked products, a CSIRO research scientist studying the environmental risks of nano-materials and the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre for delivering Australia's first 6 star Green Star rated public building.

KRAFT Foods was another winner, receiving the Agriculture and Food award for it's program Giving Vegemite a Sustainable Future, which is expected to see the production of the yeast spread reduce waste water by 65 per cent and cut energy use by half by the time the year is out.