1001.0 - Australian Bureau of Statistics -- Annual Report, 2007-08  
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Contents >> Section VI - How the ABS Operates >> Chapter 22 - Ecological and environmental sustainability

Ecological and environmental sustainability

The Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 requires agencies to report on aspects of their performance relating to ecologically sustainable development. The ABS has two key roles in respect to 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 relates to the impact of the ABS’ operations on the environment, in addition to 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.

The ABS is committed to providing quality environment statistics, as well as minimising the impact of its activities on the environment.

The ABS is committed to providing quality environment statistics, as well as minimising the impact of its activities on the environment.

Component AssessmentComment

(a) How do the activities of the organisation, and the administration of legislation by the organisation, accord with the principles of ecologically sustainable development?

The ABS operates primarily in an office based environment and is increasingly moving from paper to electronic products. This is being achieved by:
  • the availability of free publications on the ABS website and increasing the number of publications available electronically, which continues to reduce demand for hard copies of publications

  • the introduction of duplex printing and copying

  • a knowledge framework, incorporating digital recordkeeping rather than paper records and automatic recordkeeping facilities for ABS workgroup databases, and

  • computer assisted interviewing to replace paper forms.

    Other matters relating to ecologically sustainable development at the ABS include:

  • incorporation of environmental clauses as part of the tender and evaluation process in most procurement activities

  • consideration of environmental issues in the market testing process for new office accommodation

  • inclusion of the Green Lease Schedules in new tenancy leases, and

  • the trial and introduction of a range of ‘green IT’ initiatives, including virtualisation of servers (where one server appears as many), to allow for more efficient use of resources and electricity savings.

  • (b) How do the outcomes specified in a relevant Appropriations Act contribute to ecologically sustainable development?

    The ABS receives appropriation for the purpose of producing social and economic statistics.

    The ABS’ environment statistics are produced as part of both the social and economic statistics programs.

    The environment component of the economic statistics program collects and publishes environment and energy statistics, including environment accounts. The environment component is involved in the coordination of data collection, research and analysis, in addition to the implementation of international environmental accounting frameworks.

    During 2007–08, the ABS continued to release 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 2004–05 (cat. no. 4618.0)

  • Australia’s Environment: Issues and Trends (cat. no. 4613.0)

  • Australian Social Trends (cat. no. 4102.0)

  • Year Book Australia (cat. no. 1301.0)

  • Natural Resource Management on Australian Farms, 2004–05 (cat. no. 4620.0)

  • Characteristics of Australia’s Irrigated Farms, 2000–01 to 2003–04 (cat. no. 4623.0)

  • Environment and Energy News (cat. no. 4653.0).

  • Research Paper: Developing An Alternative View of Electricity and Gas Supply Activity in Australia, 2003–04 (cat. no. 4647.0.55.00)

  • Experimental Monetary Water Account for Australia(cat. no. 4610.0.55.005)

    During 2007–08, the ABS developed and despatched a survey of natural resource management activities of farmers. The results of this surveys are scheduled for publication from mid 2008.

    The Agricultural Resource Management Survey was also conducted in June 2008. This survey collected both agricultural commodity and resource management practice information, in respect of the 2007–08 financial year. The results of this survey are expected to be released during 2008–09

  • (c) What is the effect of the organisation’s activities on the environment?The 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 by generation of waste.

    (d) What measures are taken by the organisation to minimise the impact of its activities on the environment?

    To minimise the effect of its operations on the environment, the ABS is continually improving practices by:
  • committing resources to develop an Environmental Management System to operate from 2008–09 onwards

  • reviewing energy usage and management to ensure the ABS will meet the new Australian Government targets

  • consuming ‘green energy’ wherever possible (for example, 10% of energy consumed in ABS Central Office is ‘green energy’)

  • considering property location and proximity to transport hubs during property market testing

  • incorporating amenities during fitout that encourage staff to save water, cycle to work, and to recycle

  • using re-manufactured and recycled cartridges for photocopiers, faxes and printers, and recycling used printer cartridges wherever possible

  • recycling paper, bottles, cans, paper and cardboard products in all offices

  • introducing duplex printing and copying

  • using paper with a 10% recycled content and exploring opportunities to increase this recycled content

  • increasing the number of publications available electronically

  • introducing digital recordkeeping, and computer assisted interviewing to replace paper forms

  • heavily weighting energy ratings, when making purchasing decisions for whitegoods

  • considering the Greenhouse Vehicle Guide (GVG) when leasing government vehicles. The 57 ABS vehicles achieved a 63% rating by the end of 2007–08.

  • promoting good practices amongst staff and supporting the development of Green Teams throughout the ABS

  • working collaboratively with building owners and managers to review and improve Australian Building Greenhouse Ratings (ABGR), and

  • trialling and introducing a range of ‘green IT’ initiatives (for example, virtualisation of servers, ‘Thin Client’ technology).

  • (e) What are the mechanisms for reviewing and increasing the effectiveness of these measures?The ABS Environmental Management System is being progressively introduced. It is anticipated that ISO14001 compliance will be achieved by late 2008. Benchmarking in a number of areas of environmental concern has already been undertaken. Once fully operational, the Environmental Management System will allow the ABS to monitor and review the effectiveness of its environmental program on an ongoing basis.


    During 2007–08, the ABS Green Teams have continued to suggest and implement initiatives designed to reduce the ABS’ impact on the environment, as well as help employees understand and reduce their personal impact on the environment. Green Teams have been created in Central Office and all of the regional offices. In addition, a Technical Services Division Green Team has been created, which is known as ‘Green IT’.

    Some of the initiatives undertaken by the Green Teams include:

  • introducing and encouraging mobile phone recycling

  • running the ‘Push your Energy Bills Down’ seminar, which was conducted by an energy expert from the Home Energy Advice Team (HEAT) on World Environment Day in June 2008

  • developing posters with ‘5 easy ways to make kitchens green’ and ‘5 easy ways to make our office green’, which are updated regularly

  • conducting a BYO coffee cup drive

  • participating in native tree planting days

  • preparing terms of reference for the conduct of Green Teams

  • encouraging the reduction in paper usage and recycling

  • undertaking virtual walks around states and territories and reducing the carbon footprint

  • attending monthly meetings and sharing ideas and initiatives

  • encouraging staff to turn off their computers after they finish work, and

  • introducing the Green Team mascot, Mr Frog, designed to increase employee environmental awareness.

    The ABS’ Green Team mascot, Mr Frog, has been attending ‘green’ functions during 2007–08.

    The ABS’ Green Team mascot, Mr Frog, has been attending ‘green’ functions during 2007–08.

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