United NationsDepartment of Economic and Social Affairs Sustainable Development

Australia

Australian Intervention
Industrial Development and Natural Resource Management
4 May 2006, 3pm
In Australia, 96% of businesses are in SMEs and 35% of these are located in rural
areas. AS you can imagine, one of the significant challenges Australia faces is how to
encourage these businesses to improve their environmental performance betond
meeting generic environment standards and legislative requirements.
We do not have a history of prescriptive regulation so we have worked on building a
range of voluntary and flexible tools that businesses can apply to meet their own
needs and circumstances.
These include tools such as voluntary corporate sustainability or Triple Bottom Line
Reporting, cleaner production strategies, Environmental Management Systems (EMS),
life cycle assessment techniques, environmental management accounting and supply
chain management.
These tools are being used at the business level, but generating sustainable production
across an industry is also a challenge, which we have found needs additional tools.
Australia has worked with Industry Associations to develop voluntary eco-efficiency
agreements which enable industry associations to go beyond standard practice and
work with their members to implement practical, effective strategies f or change that
bring both financial and environmental benefits.
More broadly, we all face challenges in relation to improving sustainable production
and consumption thematically, say on reducing energy use or greenhouse gas
emissions from the big end of town. This might require a mix of instruments, such as
standard setting, labelling schemes or regulation.
· We introduced MEPS in 1999 for residential appliances and commercial and
industrial equipment. This is supported by a mandatory energy labelling system
which forces the suppliers to declare, on a standardised basis, the energy
consumption of their products so that consumers are able to compare them
· These measures have resulted in significant energy savings ? for example since
labelling requirements and MEPS were introduced, energy consumption of
refrigerators and freezers has been reduced by 67%.
And finally, we have also found challenges in creating sustainable production and
consumption in industrial complexes where many businesses work in close proximity.
· ?industrial symbiosis? is where businesses work together to exchange of wastes,
by-products and energy among closely situated industrial enterprises, so that one
company?s waste (materials/ water/energy) becomes an input to another
company?s manufacturing operations. The Kwinana Industrial Area of Western
Australia is reported to have one of the largest number of industrial symbiosis
waste exchanges for an industrial area anywhere in the world with 106
interactions between industrial enterprises.
A case study has been prepared for CSD14 on this example of industrial symbiosis
which may be of interest to other countries, which we are pleased to share.
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