National Strategy for Ecologically Sustainable Development

Prepared by the Ecologically Sustainable Development Steering Committee
Endorsed by the Council of Australian Governments
December, 1992
ISBN 0 644 27253 8

Part 2 Sectoral Issues - Chapter 4


To achieve a robust, internationally competitive, export-oriented manufacturing sector, which contributes to a stronger economy, operates in accordance with the principles of ESD, and efficiently uses the renewable and non-renewable resources on which manufacturing industries depend.

Strategic Approach

A new policy framework will be promoted aimed at embedding ESD principles in the industry and environment policies of all levels of government and in the planning and operating policies of companies. Within this context, high priority will be placed on encouraging firms and industries to adopt best practice environmental management and whole-life-cycle analysis. Institutional reforms to achieve integration of industry and environmental issues in decision making will be pursued. Mechanisms for encouraging domestic production of environmental goods and services, as well as meeting consumer concerns about environmental claims in marketing will be promoted.

Objective 4.1

  • to encourage the manufacturing sector to move towards achieving sustainability in its operations by embedding ESD principles in day-to-day operations; adopting best practice environmental management and whole-life-cycle analysis

Governments will:

  • promote the use by industries of environmental audits as a first step towards the achievement of improved environmental management
  • support and provide advice to industry organisations interested in developing programs to assist their members in environmental management matters
  • through the National Industry Extension Service, promote the integration of environmental management by firms into their management frameworks
  • identify and assess the adequacy of existing programs in the public and private sector that provide companies with information and advice about best practice environmental management (BPEM)
  • suggest further actions that could be taken by industry associations, educational institutions, and all levels of government to improve understanding of BPEM and to assist those companies seeking to introduce or improve BPEM, including clean production procedures
  • seek to undertake further work on the development and adoption of whole-life-cycle methodologies in the Australian context
  • request ANZECC to address the question of changes to legislation to exempt voluntary environmental audits by companies from court discovery processes
  • ensure close linkages are maintained with the corresponding strategy for waste minimisation and management

Objective 4.2

  • to provide the domestic market opportunities necessary for the development of new Australian environmental products and services; and provide information, education and the capacity to seek verification of environmental claims in marketing

Governments will:

  • at the Commonwealth level, encourage action, and provide support to, the Environment Management Industry Association of Australia, particularly for the preparation of an environment management industry strategy
  • support initiatives which allow companies to seek verification of environmental claims about products and services; and provide information, education and verification of environmental claims in marketing; and investigate methodologies for whole-life-cycle analysis
  • at the Commonwealth level, review the Commonwealth Environment Protection Agency's Environmental Choice Program
  • encourage moves by industry towards development of self-regulatory industry codes of practice in relation to environmental claims in marketing, and encourage companies to become signatories to the Charter of Environmental Marketing Practice
  • continue to examine and support work by organisations on the possible trade implications of the development of environmental labelling internationally
  • continue to review consumer protection legislation to ensure that it provides adequate enforcement in relation to environmental claims

Objective 4.3

  • to ensure relevant government product approvals are based on ESD principles, and develop an effective and sustainable national approach to chemicals management in Australia

The Commonwealth Government has:

  • obtained assurances that the National Health and Medical Research Council, Worksafe Australia, the Australian Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals Council, and the Genetic Manipulation Advisory Committee apply ESD principles in areas for which they are responsible

Governments will:

  • at the Commonwealth level, and following consultation with States, Territories and non- government organisations, seek to develop arrangements to streamline and increase the effectiveness of existing arrangements for regulation and management of chemicals, and to develop long-term management plans within the context of existing standards-setting mechanisms
  • seek to ensure that, as far as possible, Australian arrangements for the regulation and management of chemicals conform with outcomes from UNCED and other international developments
  • promote management of the use of chemicals in manufacturing through the National Industrial Chemicals Notification and Assessment Scheme (NICNAS), the national registration and national clearance mechanisms for agricultural and veterinary chemicals
  • at the Commonwealth level, facilitate further development of the National Strategy for the Management of Chemicals Used at Work
  • continue to contribute to activities undertaken by the OECD in relation to risk assessment and management of chemicals