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Environment industries archive


Key departmental publications, e.g. annual reports, budget papers and program guidelines are available in our online archive.

Much of the material listed on these archived web pages has been superseded, or served a particular purpose at a particular time. It may contain references to activities or policies that have no current application. Many archived documents may link to web pages that have moved or no longer exist, or may refer to other documents that are no longer available.

Environmental Efficiency In The Australian Public Service:
A Resource Guide

Department of Industrial Relations

Department of Industrial Relations
October 1996


Executive Summary

Achieving environmental efficiency in the Australian Public Service means developing and implementing work practices that are environmentally friendly, efficient and cost effective.

Cleaner production is a valuable tool in achieving environmental efficiency. Cleaner production strategies focus on saving energy, water and raw materials, as well as eliminating toxic substances and reducing the amount of waste. This can be addressed by examining and altering the means by which agencies:

use energy, water and other resources use energy, water and other resources;
generate and dispose of waste generate and dispose of waste; and
manage their purchasing arrangements manage their purchasing arrangements.

Agencies can integrate environmental efficiency into their management and planning framework by addressing objectives in their corporate plans.

Moreover, including environmental efficiency targets in agency bargaining agreements, and reporting on performance against clear performance measures, can help focus both staff and management on the benefits which can be achieved.

Although improving environmental efficiency has obvious direct benefits to the workplace, it also has a much broader application. In the APS this can translate to:

romoting ecologically sustainable development promoting ecologically sustainable development;
mproving corporate decision-making improving corporate decision-making;
providing a systematic basis for environmental management strategies providing a systematic basis for environmental management strategies;
fostering community and industry partnerships with government fostering community and industry partnerships with government;
improving public environmental awareness improving public environmental awareness; and
addressing and preventing future occurrences of specific environmental problems addressing and preventing future occurrences of specific environmental problems.

Striving for improved environmental efficiency works for the benefit of the environment, the agency, staff and the community alike.

This resource guide looks at initiatives adopted by APS agencies in office

and non-office environments, including subsequent cost savings and improvements to operations. A checklist of cleaner production opportunities and information on legislative and statutory obligations are included. The guide also contains findings of the APS-wide survey, Survey of Cleaner Production in Australian Public Service Agencies, and a directory to sources of environmental information.

The survey findings and the information provided though the case studies illustrate that changes made to agency operations have yielded both financial and environmental improvements. For example, 87% of agencies surveyed implement recycling strategies; with 70% experiencing a reduction in energy costs as a direct consequence of adopting environmentally efficient practices.


Internationally, governments are showing environmental leadership by getting their own houses in order. For example, the President of the United States of America has given an Executive Order for facilities owned by the government to adhere to national pollution prevention and control policies and to be the leaders in pollution prevention; and the Canadian government has committed itself to greening its operations by incorporating environmental management systems into its reporting mechanisms.

Australia has also come to appreciate that the health and well-being of our people depends as much on protecting our environment as it does on economic development. The Australian Government supports the concept of ecologically sustainable development.

At each level of government in Australia, there has been a shift over the past twenty years from treatment and disposal of waste, to minimisation and prevention of pollution at its source. This is where Cleaner Production is a valuable tool - its overriding objective being to look at the whole life-cycle of any activity to identify opportunities for pollution reduction or prevention.

The Continuous Improvement in the APS Enterprise Agreement: 1995-96 (the Agreement) incorporates a Service-wide strategy to improve productivity, efficiency and overall performance of the Australian Public Service. One of the productivity initiatives under this strategy is the enhancement of agencies' environmental efficiency.

The parties to the Agreement recognised that there was scope to increase the environmental efficiency of the APS. They therefore agreed to jointly identify, promote and implement initiatives to improve environmental efficiency (Attachment B, Schedule 1, p.30 of the Agreement). It was considered that, at the very least, the adoption of such initiatives would play a part in the former Government's target to reduce energy use in Commonwealth occupied buildings from 1992-93 levels by 15% before 1998-99 and 25% before 2003-4 (Environment Statement, December 1992). This measure is under consideration by the current Government.

Further to this, the parties recognised that the effective implementation of environmental efficiency initiatives required the establishment of consultative mechanisms at the workplace level, the training of workplace representatives, and the formulation of environmental improvement plans.

A Joint Working Party (JWP), with representatives from the Departments of Industrial Relations (Chair); Environment, Sport and Territories; Administrative Services; Primary Industries and Energy; Transport and Regional Development; Joint House; and Defence; the Australian Industrial Property Organisation, the Australian Bureau of Statistics and the Australian Manufacturing Workers' Union, was established to address the issue of environmental efficiency. Comcare Australia and the Department of Employment, Education, Training and Youth Affairs also contributed to this group.

The requirement to jointly identify, promote and implement initiatives to improve environmental efficiency was to be met through the collection and compilation of information pertaining to environmental efficiency measures being adopted by APS agencies. This requirement has been met by the development of this Resource Guide. In addition, a Service-wide Environment Network, to be managed by the Department of Environment, Sport and Territories, will be established to promote the dissemination of environmental efficiency information.