What is environmental management?

Environmental management involves being aware of how your business operations affect the environment. Regardless of the size and type of business you run, it's possible to manage your impact on the environment. This can include:

  • reducing your energy consumption and emissions
  • using water more efficiently
  • managing waste better.

Why is environmental management good for business?

As well as being good for the environment, making your business more sustainable has other benefits:

  • Cost savings – by spending less on raw materials, energy, water and waste management.
  • Business reputation – people may be more likely to support a business that cares about its impact on the environment.
  • Resource recovery – reducing, reusing and recycling is important for the environment and can also be profitable.
  • Work health and safety – reduced use of industrial chemicals and less waste can improve workplace health and safety.
  • Legal compliance – your business needs to meet certain environmental protection laws.

Energy management

Reducing energy use is not always an option. However, managing how and when you use energy can help protect the environment and reduce your bills. Consider:

  • reviewing your energy bills and energy contract
  • looking at ways to improve energy efficiency
  • switching to alternative energy
  • shifting energy use to cheaper periods
  • seeking energy finance.

Find out more about energy management.

Water management

There are many ways to reduce your water use, from installing more efficient appliances through to having a water management plan. If you don’t have the money to upgrade to more water efficient equipment, look at how to use your existing equipment better. You may also be eligible for grants or programs to help your business use water more efficiently.

Water quality and testing

Water standards and testing requirements vary depending on your industry and the way you use water. Learn about the regulations for water quality in your state or territory.

The National Measurement Institute provides a range of water quality tests.

Check out our tips to save water.

Waste management

Waste management is about being more efficient with raw materials and making the most of each stage of the production process.

Consider all stages of waste material, from the time it is made through to its disposal. Think about how you use the product, and if your processes could be more efficient for each stage in its ‘life-cycle’.

Check out our tips to manage waste.

Environmental legislation

Environmental laws that affect your business will depend on your business type. Federal, state and local governments jointly administer the environmental protection laws in Australia. As a business owner, you need to understand which laws apply to you.

The Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment administers the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act. Government agencies and industry groups also develop voluntary codes of practice to guide industry's impact on the environment.

Environmental licences and permits

Your business activities are controlled under environment laws through licences and permits. The type of approval you’ll need depends on what you want to do and where.

When you need federal Government approval

If your activity is likely to affect areas of national environmental significance, you need to get licences and permits from the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment. Use the Protected Matters Search Tool to check for areas of national environmental significance.

You will also need special approval through the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment for activities under quarantine restrictions. This includes importing or exporting wildlife products, greenhouse gases, hazardous waste and ozone-depleting substances.

When you need state and local government approval

If your activity is likely to impact on the local environment, such as parks, heritage sites, air and water, you can get licences and permits through your state or local governments.

Reporting on environmental management

It’s a good idea to regularly monitor and report on your impacts on the environment. Common environmental reports used by businesses include:

  • greenhouse gas and energy reporting
  • corporate sustainability or triple bottom line reporting
  • natural resource management monitoring.

For most businesses, environmental reporting is voluntary, but there are some mandatory industry reporting requirements that may apply. Find out about:

Grants and awards

Often it takes a bit of incentive and assistance to become more environmentally friendly. But who do you approach for help?

Consider applying for an environmental award to get recognition for your environmental initiatives. There are awards from federal, state, territory and local governments.

Federal and national awards

The Banksia Foundation administers a number of national and state environmental award programs.

Australian businesses that comply with the National Carbon Offset Standard can use the logo to market their products. It shows your business is dedicated to reducing emissions.

Search for government grants and assistance programs

Use our search tool to find grants, funding or assistance programs to help your business grow and succeed.

Read next

Follow our steps to make your business more environmentally friendly.

Find out more about saving on your energy bill.