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Speech
The Hon Dr Sharman Stone
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Federal Member for Murray

Launch of the third National Association for Crop Production and Animal Health (Avcare) Public Environment Report
Parliament House, Canberra
Thursday 24 June 2004

Launch of the third Avcare public environment report


Welcome to today's launch of the third Industry Environment Report for Avcare, the National Association for Crop Production and Animal Health.

The publication of this report marks the completion of the three year Eco-efficiency Agreement between Avcare and the Australian Government.

This was one of the first Eco-efficiency Agreements that the Department of Environment and Heritage entered into with Australian industry, marking Avcare as an industry leader for their willingness to work in partnership with government to deliver improved environmental outcomes.

Funding of over $120,000 was provided by the Government to assist Avcare with this task.

While the industry has experienced restructuring and consolidation over the past 18 months, this report demonstrates that the industry has also made a significant decrease in its environmental footprint at the point of manufacturing.

The data for this report was collected from all Avcare member companies – representing approximately 85 per cent of the Australian market in terms of sales and employing more than 2200 Australians.

More than half of the participating member companies in this report also an environment policy.

Products to improve crop production and maintain animal health play an important role in the Australian economy but can also have significant impacts on the environment.

As the peak Australian industry organisation for manufacturers and distributors of these products, Avcare plays an active role in managing and reducing these impacts.

Avcare has shown itself to be progressive and responsible through initiatives such as the Avcare Code of Conduct, the Agsafe accreditation program, drumMUSTER and ChemClear.

Avcare has also highlighted the business opportunities and benefits of improving environmental performance and helped its members recognise these gains through the Eco-efficiency Agreement.

Eco-efficiency helps businesses develop more efficient and sustainable business practices. This means producing more goods and services with less energy and fewer natural resources. Eco-efficiency is good for business and good for the environment.

Through the Eco-efficiency Agreement, Avcare has undertaken a wide range of environmental activities, including publishing annual Industry Environment Reports over a three-year period.

This has been an interesting and sometimes challenging project, increasing the transparency and building a better public understanding of the industry and its environmental performance.

The report provides a broad assessment of the industry's performance by aggregating data collected across industry members on inputs of energy and water and outputs of greenhouse gases and waste.

The report also includes efficiency indicators showing how many natural resources the industry uses per unit of production.

I am pleased to note that the industry has achieved improvements in all eco-efficiency areas assessed.

Some notables from the industry report card include:

These improvements were achieved despite significant structural changes in the sector's major companies.

I am also encouraged by the continuing work of Avcare and its members to protect the environment and increase resource efficiency within the sector.

Australian agriculture faces many environmental challenges today, and it is becoming increasingly important for businesses within the sector to incorporate environmental measures into their mainstream business practices. Avcare and its members are showing how this can be done.

I commend Avcare on their undertaking to publish regular Industry Environment Reports in the future.

The crop production industry, by the very nature of its business, faces constant challenges to manage its environmental impacts. It's gratifying to see the level of effort that's going into these issues, and the commitment by Avcare itself and its members.

But There's no room for complacency in an industry so much at the pointy end of interaction with the environment.

The Government will continue to work with Avcare on initiatives to reduce the industry's environmental footprint and I look forward to seeing the outcomes of their next environmental report.

ENDS

Commonwealth of Australia