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Public environmental reporting
Public environmental reporting is the public disclosure of information about the environmental performance of a business including its impacts on the environment, performance in managing those impacts and contribution to ecologically sustainable development.
More than 50 companies — including BHP Billiton, Hydro Tasmania and Telstra — have linked their environment reports to Environment Australia's Public Environmental Reporting. The site is a clearing house for electronically available reports and provides information for organisations wanting to develop their own reports.
Internationally, the Global Reporting Initiative Sustainability Reporting Framework is rapidly becoming the accepted voluntary framework for corporate sustainability or triple bottom line (environment, social and economic) reporting. The World Business Council for Sustainable Development has developed outlines of the measurements, or metrics, which are useful for reports and provide background information for how organisations can move towards sustainability.
Triple bottom line
The ‘triple bottom line’ concept is based on the notion that businesses report against their performance (or bottom lines) on economic, environmental and social outcomes. This information can then be used to evaluate how well the business is moving towards goals of ecologically sustainable development.
It is argued that for a business to be sustainable, it must be financially secure, minimise its negative environmental impacts and conform with social expectations. More on this topic can be found at the SustainAbility website.
Corporate social responsibility sells
There is a growing belief that more Australian firms need to grasp the importance of being good corporate citizens in influencing consumer and investor behaviour.
According to Taking the First Steps, a report conducted by the State Chamber of Commerce (NSW), there is a growing gap between consumer expectations of businesses in terms of social and environmental responsibility and what businesses expect of themselves.
Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) measures the environmental impacts of products or services relative to each other. Comparisons can be made by assessing products in terms of the energy consumed in the extraction of raw materials, transport, manufacture, distribution and final disposal — the product's life cycle. Additional calculations including emissions to air, land or water resulting from creating and disposing of the product or service are also included.
The EPA has been a partner in the LCA Australian Data Inventory Project to develop baseline data for LCA in Australia. This project has been guided by the Cooperative Research Centre for Waste Management and Pollution Control at the University of NSW, and the RMIT Centre for Design.
For more information about the project and life cycle assessment in Australia visit:
Last modified: 19/12/2012 11:14 am