Benefits for business


Environmental management not only benefits the environment, it can also be good for business through:

  • 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 – reusing and recycling resources can be profitable
  • work health and safety – reducing chemical use and waste materials can improve workplace health and safety
  • legal compliance – your business must meet certain environmental protection laws.

Regardless of the size and type of business you run, there are ways to manage your impact on the environment. Follow our steps to plan ahead and prioritise your environmental management activities.

1. Get an environmental audit


An environmental audit can help to assess the nature and extent of your business's current impacts on the environment. This will enable you to:

  • identify how you could reduce your impact
  • prioritise environmental management activities
  • demonstrate your accountability to government, customers and shareholders.

You can use this initial audit as a benchmark to compare regular ongoing audits against.

2. Set up an environmental management system


Once you have an understanding of your current impact, an environmental management system (EMS) can help you to plan ahead to manage future impacts on the environment. An EMS can also make it easier to get certain permits for business activities.

Your EMS should: 

  • identify the environmental impact of your business
  • set your environmental objectives and targets
  • provide your operational and emergency procedures for environmental issues
  • outline responsibilities and your reporting structure
  • identify areas for ongoing improvement.

Consider getting your EMS accredited – the ISO 14001 standard sets out the requirements for a certified EMS.

3. Report on your impacts


It’s a good idea to regularly monitor and report on your impacts on the environment. Common environmental reports made 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 for some businesses mandatory industry reporting may apply. Find out about the:

4. Check government requirements


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

Government agencies and industry groups also develop voluntary codes of practice to guide industry's impact on the environment.

Licences and permits

You may require environmental licences and permits for certain business activities.

If an activity might affect areas of national environmental significance, you’ll need to get licences or permits from the Australian Government. You can check for areas of national environmental significance with the Protected Matters Search Tool.

If your activity is likely to impact on the local environment, such as parks, heritage sites, air and water, check for licence and permit requirements through your state, territory or local government.

Government legislation, approvals and guidance

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5. Find environmental grants and awards


Consider getting recognised for your environmental initiatives.

There are environmental awards available from Australian, state, territory and local governments including:

Check your state, territory or local government website for other environmental awards.

Search for grants and assistance programs

Use our search tool to find grants, funding or assistance programs to support your business's environmental initiatives.

Read next

Explore ways to reduce your business's energy use and emissions.

Learn how to improve water management for your business.

Find strategies to reduce your business's waste.