Chris Rutledge, General Manager for  Elvin Group at the resource recovery and reuse centre at Mitchell.

Chris Rutledge, General Manager for Elvin Group at the resource recovery and reuse centre at Mitchell. Photo: Melissa Adams

You don't instantly think ''green'' when a concrete truck rumbles by.

However, locally owned company Elvin Group is thinking about the environment every time it sends one of its 26 yellow-and-white trucks to a building site.

If the concrete is not used, it is returned and recycled rather than being dumped.

Solar panels cover  the roof of the Elvin Group building.

Solar panels cover the roof of the Elvin Group building. Photo: Melissa Adams

On Wednesday the company became the first in Canberra to be awarded a grant by the federal government to install a solar array.

It is receiving $90,945 - from carbon tax revenue - and is chipping in another $90,000.

The installation is significant - 55 kilowatt - and sits on a warehouse roof at the company's Mitchell site.

But the group owns an even larger solar photovoltaic panel array - generating 146kW - at the Kamberra Winery, believed to be the largest privately owned solar power system commissioned in the ACT.

While the grant for the newer array comes from the carbon tax, Elvin Group does not have to pay the tax because of its relatively small size.

Managing director Barry Innes said the installation of the array was part of greening the business.

''We're trying to do things better in many aspects of our business, including environmentally,'' he said.

''The array will save us money, but what we're really trying to do is to come up with a more environmentally friendly product.

''Our energy costs would have been affected just like everybody else in the Canberra area in recent times, it's a significant part of our costs that we want to address, and we're also wanting to improve the environmental performance of the business.

''One of the things we've done is put in a recycling system at both of our plants here in Canberra where returned concrete is recycled for re-use.

''When the material that's not used on site comes back in the trucks, it's still plastic.

''So when we bring it back we put it through a recycling process that separates the components out, the water is recycled, the aggregates and the sand are recycled as well.

''They are then reintroduced into our production, so it's a way of reducing the waste.''

The grant for the Mitchell array was announced by the federal government as part of $30 million being distributed to 89 manufacturers to improve energy efficiency, reduce power bills, improve competitiveness and cut carbon pollution. Industry and Innovation Minister Greg Combet unveiled the latest grants, which come from the $1 billion Clean Technology Investment program.

He said future grants would support 3000 more projects to help manufacturers use energy more efficiently.

''The grants will help manufacturers transform the way they do business and become cleaner, more efficient and more sustainable,'' he said.

The largest grant unveiled by Mr Combet was $3.25 million for Queensland's Boral Bricks, to replace and upgrade kilns and dryers. The company expects to cut its energy costs by $550,000 a year.

Nearer to Canberra, Bega Cheese will receive $280,000 and Wagga Wagga-based milk processor Fonterra will get $152,000.

While Elvin Group is the first in Canberra to receive such a grant, an application from another ACT company is being considered by AusIndustry.

Member for Fraser Andrew Leigh congratulated Elvin Group for transforming its operations to reduce energy emissions and improve its competitiveness.