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Manufacturing and the environment
The manufacturing industry was the sixth highest water user in Australia, consuming 1% of water extracted (727 GL) in 1996-97. By 2000-01 this use had increased to 793 GL (one and a half times the volume of Sydney Harbour). The majority of water intake for this industry was mains supplied (70%), reflecting the tendency for manufacturing industry to be located around urban communities.
Manufacturing as a source of pollution and waste
Most manufacturing businesses do not generate waste in quantities significant enough to report on the National Pollutant Inventory. However, 675 manufacturing locations (approximately 1% of all manufacturing locations) reported particulate emissions (dust particles smaller than 10 micrometres) amounting to 11% of the estimated total particulate emissions for 2000-01. Depending on the type of dust, particulate matter can be a hazardous material which can cause irritation of the mucous membrane, allergic reactions, fibrosis and cancer.
In 1997-98, the manufacturing industry released 57,166 Gg of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions (CO2-e), accounting for 17% of total CO2-e by Australian industries (table 19.2). Manufacturing is the second highest source of greenhouse gas emissions after the electricity industry. The level of emissions reached in 1997-98 represented a 9% increase over the 1992-93 level. The majority of emissions are carbon dioxide, with a marginal amount of nitrous oxide and methane.
Response by government for environment protection
Governments react to environment pressures exerted by manufacturing activity through legislation and partnership programs. These programs are based on reducing greenhouse emissions, waste minimisation, resource recovery and reducing material inputs to the manufacturing process.
Government regulations concentrate on protecting the environment. Regulations range from licence fees for pollution emissions to the environment, to compulsory reporting requirements through legislation such as the Corporations Act 2000 (Cwlth), and fines from prosecutions.
Voluntary programs promoted by the Commonwealth Government and state governments focus on the provision of reporting measures for businesses such as A Framework for Public Environmental Reporting: An Australian Approach (Environment Australia 2000) and eco-efficiency agreements (relating to waste minimisation, energy minimisation and an overall reduction of materials into the manufacturing industry). Targets are set by government and industry collaboration on the basis of which indicators are agreed upon, measuring the extent to which businesses meet those targets.
More recently, the Global Reporting Initiative program (Global Reporting Initiative 2001) details a series of environment, social and governance measures for companies to report on.
Response by manufacturing on environment protection
Manufacturers react to regulatory and social pressures by establishing environmental plans or policies and by expenditure on environment protection. Their expenditure in 2000-01 is shown in table 19.3 in respect of the following domains: solid waste management; liquid waste management; air emissions management; other environment protection including protection of soil resources, biodiversity and habitat; and administration of the environment.
Current environment protection expenditure for the manufacturing sector of $669m was about 0.3% of total current expenditure of the sector. The highest expenditure was on waste management ($502m), in the fields of solid waste management ($284m), liquid waste and waste water management ($184m) and air emissions management ($35m).
Capital environment protection expenditure for the sector of $438m was about 4% of its total capital expenditure. The highest expenditure was again on waste management ($390m), in the fields of liquid waste and waste water management ($176m), air emissions management ($124m) and solid waste management ($90m).
Approximately 13% of manufacturers had an environmental plan in place at 30 June 2001. Of these businesses, 54% constructed a voluntary environment management system or code of practice and 52% had a written policy or environmental plan (table 19.4). However, of businesses with 100 or more employees, 64% had environmental plans; the great majority of these (87%) had a written policy or plan.
Barriers to environment protection
A number of barriers can prevent businesses from implementing environment management measures. Such barriers include lack of time, resources or knowledge on environment management.
Approximately 46% of manufacturers had no barriers to improving environment protection expenditure for the financial year 2000-01 (table 19.5). The main reasons for not improving environment protection were reported to be the likely costs involved (28% of businesses), and lack of time and staff resources (26%).
About 44% of manufacturing businesses sought some form of environment management information in 2000-01. Some 21% obtained information from state government and 19% from their industry and professional associations (table 19.6).
ABS (Australian Bureau of Statistics) 2000, Water Account for Australia, 1993-94 to 1996-97, cat. no. 4610.0, ABS, Canberra.
ABS 2001, Energy and Greenhouse Gas Emissions Accounts, Australia, 1992-93 to 1997-98, cat. no. 4604.0, ABS, Canberra.
ABS 2002a, Environment Protection, Mining and Manufacturing Industries, Australia, 2000-01, cat. no. 4603.0, ABS, Canberra.
ABS 2002b, Environment Protection, Mining and Manufacturing Industries, Australia, 2000-01, Special Data Service, ABS, Canberra.
Environment Australia 2000, A Framework for Public Environmental Reporting: An Australian Approach, March 2000.
Global Reporting Initiative 2001, Draft 2002 Sustainability Reporting Guidelines, www.globalreporting.org/GRIGuidelines/2002draft.htm.
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