1001.0 - Annual Report - ABS Annual Report, 2005-06  
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Contents >> Section 6 - How the ABS Operates >> Chapter 24 - Ecological and environmental sustainability

Chapter 24 - Ecological and environmental sustainability

The Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 requires agencies to report on aspects of its performance as it relates to ecologically sustainable development. The ABS has two key roles in respect of this issue. The first of these is in relation to the ABS' responsibility for providing statistics on the environment and environmental issues to enable informed decision making. The second role is in respect of ABS operations and its impact on the environment, and the steps being taken by the ABS to minimise that impact.

The ABS response to the five components of sub-section 516A(6) as required by the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 is described below.

TABLE 24.1: ASSESSMENT AGAINST COMPONENTS OF ECOLOGICAL AND ENVIRONMENTAL RESPONSIBILITY

ComponentAssessment

(a) How the activities of the organisation, and the administration of legislation by the organisation, accord with the principles of ecologically sustainable development The ABS charter is to provide a high quality statistical service to the government and the community. The ABS operates primarily in an office based environment and is progressively moving from paper to electronic products.

The ABS has reduced paper consumption by increasing the number of publications available electronically. There has been a 30 per cent decrease in the number of publication titles printed, and a 40 per cent decrease in the number of publication copies printed, between 2004–05 and 2005–06. The availability of free publications on the ABS web site has resulted in a further reduction over the 2003–04 and 2004–05 figures.

Computer assisted interviewing which was fully implemented by August 2004, has eliminated paper questionnaires in the Population Survey Operations area. It is estimated that this has led to a reduction in use of approximately 7.2 million pages of high quality A4 paper.

From 1 January 2006 ABS ceased creating paper records of its general business activities, except financial and personnel records, and primarily manages its business records by digital recordkeeping. To assist with the management of these records, the ABS has developed a Knowledge Framework and is in the process of configuring its technologies to facilitate automatic recordkeeping. ABS' workgroup databases already include these automatic recordkeeping facilities.

In most procurement activities, the ABS has incorporated environmental clauses as part of the tender and evaluation process. Environmental considerations are also incorporated into the market testing process for new leases.

(b) How the outcomes specified in a relevant Appropriations Act contribute to ecologically sustainable developmentThe ABS receives appropriation for the purpose of informing the government on social, economic and environmental matters which are integrated into government policy.

The environment component of the ABS Economic Statistics program collects and publishes information about environment and energy statistics, including environment accounts. The component is involved in the coordination of data collection, research and analysis and implementing international environmental accounting frameworks.

During 2005–06 the ABS released a range of publications relevant to environmental issues. These included:
    • Environmental Issues: People's Views and Practices (cat. no. 4602.0)
    • Water Use on Australian Farms 2003–04 (cat. no. 4618.0)
    • Land Management: Fitzroy and Livingstone Shires Queensland, 2004–05
    • Land Management: Eurobodalla Shire NSW, 2003–04
    • Australian Social Trends (cat. no. 4102.0)
    • Measures of Australia's Progress (cat. no. 1370.0)
    • Year Book Australia (cat. no. 1301.0)
During 2005–06 the ABS developed and despatched surveys of natural resource management activities of farmers and on water management by the water supply industry. The results of these surveys will be published by the end of 2006.

(c) Effect of the organisation's activities on the environmentThe operation of the ABS contributes to a range of impacts on the environment through its use of electricity, petrol, water, paper and other materials consumed and through its generation of waste.

(d) Measures being taken by the organisation to minimise the impact of its activities on the environmentThe ABS is implementing measures to minimise the effect of its operations on the environment by:
    • reducing paper consumption by increasing the number of publications available electronically, introducing digital recordkeeping, and computer assisted interviewing
    • ABS energy per person remaining less than 10,000 MJ consistent with the Australian Greenhouse Office energy target of 10,000MJ or less per person
    • heavily weighting energy ratings when making purchasing decisions for whitegoods
    • where possible, using remanufactured and recycled cartridges for photocopiers, faxes and printers and recycling all ABS used printer cartridges
    • where possible, consuming 'green energy' (10 per cent of energy consumed in ABS Central Office is 'green energy')
    • considering the Greenhouse Vehicle Guide (GVG) when purchasing government vehicles. Approximately 49.2 per cent of ABS fleet vehicles has a GVG score of 10.5 or better as at the end of the 2005–06 financial year. The ABS has positively contributed to the Australian Government reaching its target of 28 per cent of vehicles with a GVG rating better than 10 by 2005
    • recycling paper in all offices and actively recycling bottles, cans and cartons in ABS Central Office
    • using paper with a 10 per cent recycled content in ABS Central Office
    • ensuring appropriate facilities, including storage, for staff wishing to use bicycles to travel to and from work
    • dual flush toilets are installed in Central Office to reduce water consumption.

(e) Mechanisms, if any, for reviewing and increasing the effectiveness of these measuresThe ABS conducted energy audits in three offices during 2005–06 – Central Office, New South Wales Office, and Western Australia Office. Further energy audits will be undertaken next financial year.



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