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Environmental Efficiency in the Australian Public Service: a Resource Guide

Department of Industrial Relations logo

Department of Industrial Relations
October 1996

[ Contents Page ]


Appendix A

Survey of Cleaner Production in Australian Public Service Agencies


Methodology

The survey sample consisted of all APS agencies; 39 responses were returned representing a 39% response rate.

The questions were formulated by the Federal Environment Protection Agency (EPA) with input provided by other members of the Environmental Efficiency Joint Working Party (JWP). The questions were designed to:

(i) establish baseline data on the environmental performance of Commonwealth agencies;

(ii) identify good examples of 'cleaner production' as defined on the survey form; and

(iii) identify areas of weakness, in terms of environmental practice, and so identify potential environmental efficiency pilot projects.

Good examples of cleaner production are being included as case studies in the EPA's National Cleaner Production Database which is linked to the Internet.

The survey was sent to Heads of Corporate Management in each agency and responses returned to the Department of Industrial Relations (DIR) by mail or fax. Survey responses were provided in the main by Corporate areas or areas dedicated to environmental management. Each survey was accompanied by an agency advice (Agency Advice 47: Environmental Efficiency in the Australian Public Service) which detailed the purpose of both the JWP and the questionnaire.

For the purposes of this survey, 'cleaner production' was defined as the process of agencies:

'..reviewing their work practices to consider where they can reduce their environmental impact. Life cycle analysis (a cradle to grave approach) is a useful way of approaching this opportunity by focusing on:

Cleaner production is a comprehensive, pro­active approach to environmental protection which often results in cost savings.

Cleaner production strategies are focused on saving energy, water and raw materials as well as eliminating toxic substances and reducing the amount of wastes."

Findings

The 39% response rate for this survey means the following results should be seen as indicative rather than absolute.

1. Cleaner production strategies implemented

The majority of respondent agencies (87%) implemented recycling strategies. These strategies included the recycling of paper products including cardboard, toner cartridges, glass, aluminium cans, compostable waste, oils, stationery, and computer disks.

A significant proportion, approximately 70%, identified and implemented energy and/or water savings with just under 50% of agencies appointing an officer responsible for environmental matters.

Of the remaining initiatives suggested by the questionnaire, 40% of agencies conducted an environmental audit, implemented a waste minimisation and reduction strategy, implemented a system for packaging/container reuse and/or assessed the use of toxic chemicals.

Agencies identified the following as additional or alternative strategies adopted in the name of good environmental practice:



2. Benefits identified in adopting cleaner production techniques

70% of respondent agencies saw a reduction in energy costs as a direct consequence of adopting cleaner production techniques.

46% cited improved environmental performance with just under 40% claiming reduced material costs.

28% of agencies then identified improved conditions/reduced risk for agency staff, 20% received a return on recycled materials and enjoyed reduced waste disposal/treatment costs, 18% reduced water bills, 15% experienced no improvements, and 13% overcome regulatory problems as a consequence of using cleaner production techniques.

Other benefits agencies identified included an increased awareness of cleaner production techniques.

Several respondents felt that some of the benefits would be of worth only to the building owner.

3. Specific environmental improvements

Agencies identified the following as specific examples of environmental performance resulting from the adoption of cleaner production techniques:

4. Cleaner production arrangements with the agency's:

(a) Suppliers

Almost 45% of agencies surveyed had no cleaner production arrangements with their suppliers. However, 20% had established environmental arrangements (ie. returning cardboard/packaging, and ISO14001) and 23% had quality arrangements (ie. ISO9001) in place.

Alternative and/or additional arrangements included:

(b) Clients

Fifty per cent of respondent agencies had no cleaner production arrangements with their clients. However, 8% of agencies had established environmental arrangements and 13% had quality arrangements in place.

Alternative and/or additional arrangements included:

5. Cleaner production techniques used for promotional purposes

One third of respondent agencies used their adoption of cleaner production techniques in staff induction processes. Just under one quarter promoted their environmentally friendly image.

Thirteen per cent of agencies prepared brochures on environmental improvements; 8% used ISO accreditation; 5% noted their use of cleaner production techniques on agency letterhead; and 3% advertised the fact on packaging.

Eighteen per cent made no use of their adoption of cleaner production techniques for promotional purposes.

Some agencies found alternate means of promoting their cleaner production techniques. These included site visits conducted to publicise achievements

and to show other agencies potential projects, and the use and notation of recycled paper for a regular staff bulletin.

6. Environmental Improvement Plan (EIP)

Almost 50% of respondents have implemented environmental improvement plans with 35% having no such plan and 10% unsure of whether they had implemented an improvement plan.

7. Cleaner production initiatives pursued through Agency Agreements

Twenty five per cent of respondent agencies pursued cleaner production initiatives in the context of an agency agreement.

Those initiatives which were pursued included:

8. Cleaner production strategies promoted in formal or on the job training programs

Approximately 65% of respondents explained recycling procedures to staff with just over 45% providing ongoing instruction on waste reduction to staff. 20% of agencies did not promote cleaner production strategies to staff.

Ten per cent provided manuals or brochures detailing environmental requirements and 8% provided formal environmental training/education programs. Recycling videos were not shown to staff in any agency.

Other initiatives adopted by agencies include:

9. Impediments to undertaking cleaner production initiatives

Twenty eight per cent of respondent agencies cited lack of funds as the chief impediment to the undertaking of cleaner production initiatives in their agencies. Fifteen per cent cited lack of support from management and 3%, legislation.

Several agencies however specified alternate impediments including:

10. Mechanisms employed under the OH&S (Commonwealth Employment) Act 1991

Agencies employed the following mechanisms to ensure that obligations under the OH&S Act were fulfilled during the development of cleaner work practices:

Policies issued at a national level are:

Other policies are currently being developed by the National OH&S Policy Committee and at the regional level, policies and practices are in place to meet local requirements and regulations

11. Sources of cleaner production information used

Ninety per cent of respondent agencies used government bodies such as

the EPA or DAS as a source of cleaner production information. In addition, almost 50% used staff within their agency whilst 33% used private consultants and 30% used community groups such as the Australian Nature Conservation Agency or Greenpeace.

Other sources identified included:

12. What would encourage the introduction of cleaner production strategies

All respondent agencies, with one exception, felt that government policy decisions would encourage their agency to introduce cleaner production initiatives. Almost 60% identified environmental regulation with approximately 40% identifying benchmarking with other organisations, and incorporating environmental information into annual reports. A third of all agencies identified the expectations of shareholders as an encouragement.

Additional measures that were considered to be an encouragement to an agency were:

from energy management and recycling activities everything else is of marginal benefit for an office based organisation);and

13. What could the Commonwealth Government do to encourage/assist Agencies to adopt cleaner production techniques

Agencies provided the following suggestions:




Survey of Cleaner Production in
Australian Public Service Agencies

Definition of "Cleaner Production"

Cleaner production for APS agencies involves reviewing their work practices to consider where they can reduce their environmental impact. Life cycle analysis (a cradle-to-grave approach) is a useful way of approaching this opportunity by focusing on:

- purchasing: are these materials/equipment the most environmentally benign available? Will they reduce waste?

- use: how much energy, water or other input will this product use throughout its life? Is there a more efficient alternative? and

- disposal: can waste be avoided, reused, recycled?

Cleaner production is a comprehensive, pro-active approach to environmental protection which often achieves cost savings.

Cleaner production strategies are focused on saving energy, water and raw materials as well as eliminating toxic substances and reducing the amount of wastes.



This survey should only take a few minutes to complete. We appreciate your assistance.

Please circle applicable answers (more than one may be identified) and provide further information where indicated.


1. What cleaner production strategies has your organisation implemented?

a. an environmental audit

b. a waste minimisation and reduction strategy

c. appointed an officer in your agency responsible for environmental matters

d. identified and implemented energy and/or water savings

e. implemented a system for packaging/container reuse

f. assessed the use of toxic chemicals?

g. recycling - if yes, which type of materials?.......................................

h. other strategies?......................................................................................

....................................................................................................................


2. What benefits has your organisation identified in adopting cleaner production techniques?

a. reduced energy costs

b. reduced water bills

c. reduced material costs

d. reduced waste disposal/treatment costs

e. received return on recycled materials

f. increased efficiency

g. overcoming regulatory problems

h. improved environmental performance

i. improved conditions/reduced risk for agency staff

i. none

j. other, please specify

....................................................................................................................

....................................................................................................................

....................................................................................................................


3. If you identified improved environmental performance in the last question, are there specific improvements you have identified (i.e. improved water quality in local river, less toxic air emissions)?

.................................................................................................................................

.................................................................................................................................

.................................................................................................................................


4. What general types of cleaner production arrangements

(eg. quality and environmental standards) does your organisation have with:

- its suppliers

a. environmental (i.e. returning cardboard/packaging, ISO14001)

b. quality (i.e. ISO9001)

c. none

d. other, please specify

....................................................................................................................

....................................................................................................................

- its clients

a. environmental (i.e. returning cardboard/packaging, ISO14001)

b. quality (i.e. ISO9001)

c. none

d. other, please specify

....................................................................................................................

....................................................................................................................

....................................................................................................................

5. In what ways does your organisation employ its adoption of cleaner production techniques for promotional purposes?

a. noted on letterhead

b. advertised on packaging

c. use of ISO accreditation

d. environmentally friendly image promoted

e. have prepared brochures on environmental improvements

f. staff induction processes

g. other


6. Have you implemented an environmental improvement plan?

a. yes

b. no

c. unsure


7. Have other cleaner production initiatives been pursued in the context of an agency agreement? If so, please specify.

.................................................................................................................................

.................................................................................................................................

.................................................................................................................................

8. What cleaner production strategies are promoted in your agency's formal or on-the-job training programs?

a. recycling procedures explained to staff

b. recycling video shown to staff

c. ongoing instruction of waste reduction to staff

d. formal environmental training/education program

e. manual/brochure containing all environmental requirements

f. none

g. other, please specify

....................................................................................................................

....................................................................................................................

....................................................................................................................


9. Have there been initiatives you have been unable to undertake because of cost or other impediments

a. legislation

b. lack of support from management

c. lack of funds

d. other, please specify

....................................................................................................................

....................................................................................................................

....................................................................................................................

10. What mechanisms did you employ to ensure that your obligations under the Occupational Health and Safety (Commonwealth Employment) Act 1991 were fulfilled during the development of Cleaner Work Practices?

.................................................................................................................................

.................................................................................................................................

.................................................................................................................................


11. Where would you seek information on cleaner production?

a. government bodies (such as the Environment Protection Agency/Department of Administrative Services)

b. private consultants

c. community groups (eg Australian Conservation Foundation/Greenpeace)

d. officers within your agency

e. other, please specify

....................................................................................................................

....................................................................................................................

....................................................................................................................


12. What do you believe would encourage your agency to be more inclined to introduce cleaner production?

a. Government policy decisions

b. environmental regulation

c. expectations of stakeholders

d. benchmarking with other organisations

e. incorporating environmental performance into annual reports

f. other, please specify

....................................................................................................................

....................................................................................................................

....................................................................................................................


13. What do you believe are the most effective methods the Commonwealth Government can employ to encourage/assist your agency to adopt cleaner production techniques?

.................................................................................................................................

.................................................................................................................................

.................................................................................................................................


14. Would you like more information about cleaner production or environmental improvement?

Yes/No (please circle)

If yes, what kind of environmental information would be useful? Please specify here and provide your name and address below.

a. general information on cleaner production

b. information on a particular topic, please specify

....................................................................................................................

....................................................................................................................

....................................................................................................................



IMPORTANT

If you are interested in participating in a pilot project mentioned in the attached advice, or if you would like to put forward your agency as an example of cleaner production, please tick the appropriate box and fill in your name and contact details below.

( ) My agency would be interested in becoming involved in an environmental efficiency pilot project.

( ) I would like to provide information about cleaner production work being done in my agency.

Contact name:........................................................................................................

Agency:....................................................................................................................

Postal address:........................................................................................................

.....................................................................................Post Code............................

Telephone:...........................................Fax:............................................................

RESPONDENT AGENCIES

Aboriginal Hostels Ltd
Attorney­General's Department
Auscript
Australian Archives
Austel
Australian Antarctic Division ­ DEST
Australian Industrial Property Organisation
Australian Heritage Commission
Department of Administrative Services
Department of Communication and the Arts
Department of Environment, Sport and Territories
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs
Department of Industrial Relations
Department of Parliamentary Reporting Staff
Department of Primary Industries and Energy
Department of Social Security
Department of Transport and Regional Development
Department of the Treasury
Department of Veterans' Affairs
Economic Planning and Advisory Commission
Family Court of Australia
Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority
Human Right and Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
Immigration Review Tribunal
Industrial Relations Court of Australia
National Environment Protection Council Service Corp
National Museum of Australia
National Transmission Agency
Immigration Review Tribunal
Industry Commission
Joint House Department
National Capital Planning Authority
National Native Title Tribunal
Office of Parliamentary Counsel
Office of National Assessments
Parliamentary Reporting Staff
Property Services
Refugee Review Tribunal
Royal Australian Mint