Sustainability covenants are voluntary agreements through which EPA and an organisation or a group of organisations can explore new creative ways of reducing the environmental impact and increasing the resource efficiency of their products and services.
To be sustainable we need to ensure that our environment is safe, clean and healthy for the enjoyment of present and future generations.
Achieving sustainability requires creative and innovative approaches to business in the future. Industries need to think carefully about how their business fits into a sustainable future and develop products and services to capture the opportunities presented by the sustainability agenda.
Increasingly, consumers are driving change as they become more aware of the pressures operating on our environment and demand goods and services that have less environmental impact. This focus shift has created commercial opportunities for industry.
Sustainability covenants are voluntary agreements through which EPA and a company, a group of companies or an industry sector can explore new creative ways of reducing the environmental impact and increasing the resource efficiency of their products and services.
Sustainability covenants support a holistic approach to the management of our environment that considers the impacts of products and services through their entire life cycle, from production right through to use and disposal. The environmental benefit achieved through sustainability covenants will therefore be far reaching, extending beyond the site of a company's operations. Sustainability covenants enable companies to receive statutory recognition for leadership and commitment shown to the environment through efforts to achieve resource use efficiencies and to reduce the ecological impacts of products and services.
In our quest for sustainability, industry is not the only player. Through sustainability covenants, EPA helps foster productive partnerships that will drive Victoria forward to achieve our sustainability goal.
The covenants recognise and drive innovation. As such, not only they help create environmental benefit, but they help generate economic and social benefits for the Victorian community. All Victorians therefore share the benefits of covenants.
Prior to the introduction of sustainability covenants into the Environment Protection Act 1970, the tools that were available to EPA through which change could be affected were mainly site-based and included works approvals, licences and environment improvement plans.
While these tools have been instrumental in achieving a marked improvement in the quality of our environment and in promoting corporate environmental responsibility, they are constrained in the breadth of their application and therefore the magnitude of environmental improvement that can be achieved.
Sustainability covenants are an instrument that can add to the options provided by the other statutory tools within the Act, by providing an opportunity to focus on issues such as product design and broad ranging business, social and environmental considerations, as opposed to a sole concentration on traditional point source management.