Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities, 2012
Outcome 2: Sustainable population and communities
‘Improving environmental quality, reducing pollution and promoting a sustainable Australia.’
Improved sustainability of Australia’s population, communities and environment through coordination and development of sustainable population and communities policies; and the reduction and regulation of waste, pollutants and hazardous substances.
As a result of the Administrative Arrangements Order made on 14 December 2011, the Housing component of this Outcome (Program 2.2) was transferred to the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs and the Department of the Treasury.
Main responsibilities for this outcome
||Environment Quality Division|
|Assist state and local governments to plan and provide for employment hubs to support local jobs through the Suburban Jobs program. Develop a set of headline sustainability indicators for Australia to inform decision making and planning at national and community levels, and commence regular reporting against these indicators.||Sustainability Policy and Analysis Division|
- To improve the quality of the environment and reduce pollution through national frameworks, standards, regulation, and monitoring of wastes, hazardous substances, air pollutants, ozone-depleting substances and synthetic greenhouse gases.
- Improve access to information about Australia’s sustainability for use in decision-making and planning at national and community levels, particularly through a set of sustainability indicators for Australia.
- The Product Stewardship Act 2011 came into effect on 8 August 2011, delivering on a key commitment by the Australian Government under Strategy 1 of the National Waste Policy.
- The Product Stewardship (Televisions and Computers) Regulations 2011 came into effect on 8 November 2011. The Regulations provide for a National Television and Computer Recycling Scheme, funded and run by industry, which will progressively increase the national recycling rate for televisions, computers, printers and computer products to 80 per cent in 2021-22.
- The implementation of an equivalent carbon price on synthetic greenhouse gases from 1 July 2012 as part of the Australian Government’s Clean Energy Future Plan. This will create a financial incentive to reduce emissions of synthetic greenhouse gases, which have high global-warming potentials.
- Detailed consultation to design the Suburban Jobs program and public release of guidelines in December 2011. The program aims to support local and state governments to plan and provide for increased employment opportunities outside the CBDs of major cities. The consultation process involved more than 90 government, community, academic and industry organisations from across Australia. Thirty-one applications were received, demonstrating strong interest from state and local governments and indicating the pressures faced by growth areas across the country.
- FluoroCycle, the voluntary scheme to reduce the amount of mercury entering the environment from the disposal of mercury-containing lighting, had 121 signatories by the end of the 2011-12 financial year after less than two years of operation. Signatories include major national corporations, industries and government.
- Environment ministers agreed to the release of a consultation Regulatory Impact Statement on packaging waste and litter in November 2011; this was publicly released in December 2011. Extensive consultation was conducted with the community, industry and government, including through public forums held in all capital cities and three regional cities. Over 3000 submissions were received before consultation closed on 30 March 2012.
- The department commenced a review of the Hazardous Waste (Regulation of Exports and Imports) Act 1989 to ensure that Australia continues to meet its international obligations. An issues paper was released on 14 June 2012 for public consultation to seek feedback from stakeholders on issues that should be addressed in the review.
- The department advanced work on a number of the 16 strategies under the National Waste Policy:
- The department, in close consultation with the Department of Finance and Deregulation, is leading work to promote Australian Government agency uptake of sustainable procurement under Strategy 2 of the National Waste Policy. The department is developing sustainable procurement guidance materials and a toolkit for Australian Government agencies.
- The National Waste Policy Knowledge Store was launched on the department’s website in December 2011 under Strategy 6. The knowledge store provides an opportunity to showcase the efforts of Australian, state and territory, and local governments, councils, industry, business and community towards the avoidance, reduction and re-use of waste through trialled and tested case studies.
- The release of the Construction and demolition waste status report in December 2011, under Strategy 11, improved the knowledge of construction and demolition waste management across Australia.
- The release of the Construction and Demolition Waste Guide in December 2011 under Strategy 11, included 15 case studies from Australian jurisdictions of companies profiting and growing while contributing to a more ecologically sustainable built environment.
- An industry-government working group prepared detailed draft guidelines for a voluntary industry-led product stewardship scheme for end-of-life tyres. A draft model for a voluntary product stewardship scheme for tyres received in-principle agreement from industry stakeholders in July 2011 and from environment ministers on 16 September 2011. The draft guidelines were released in June 2012 for targeted consultation with stakeholders.
- The Australian Government 2010-2011 Annual Report on the Australian Packaging Covenant Action Plan was released in May 2012 and outlines the Australian Government activities against the first year of its 2010-15 Action Plan. The report outlines the Australian Government’s activities in the first year of the plan to assist the Australian Packaging Covenant in achieving its objectives and goals to reduce the environmental impacts of packaging in Australia.