1001.0 - Australian Bureau of Statistics - Annual Report, 2018-19  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 15/10/2019   
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Ecological sustainability


In 2018–19, the ABS continued its commitment to the principles of ecologically sustainable development as outlined in the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act). This commitment was reaffirmed in 2018–19 with the update of the ABS Environmental Policy.

In accordance with the EPBC Act, the ABS has two key roles relating to ecologically sustainable development. The first is the ABS’ responsibility for providing statistics on the environment and environmental issues to enable informed decision making. The second is the impact of the ABS’ operations on the environment and the action being taken by the ABS to minimise that impact.

In accordance with sub-section 516A (6), of the EPBC Act, the ABS’ performance is outlined below.

516A (6) (a) How do the activities of the organisation, and the administration of legislation by the organisation, accord with the principles of ecologically sustainable development?

In accordance with the principles of ecologically sustainable development, the ABS pursues environmentally positive practices by:

    • seeking to minimise adverse environmental impacts from its operations
    • complying with relevant Commonwealth and Territory environment legislation and the Australian Government’s environmental policies and initiatives
    • working towards continuously improving our environmental performance.

The ongoing environmental considerations for the ABS are:

    • targeting reductions in energy usage and the generation of waste
    • complying with relevant Commonwealth and Territory environment legislation and the Australian Government’s environmental policies and initiatives
    • encouraging and promoting environmentally sound procurement practices in compliance with Commonwealth Procurement Rules
    • providing for an environmentally sound workplace and implementing environmentally sound work practices
    • monitoring our energy performance and green lease commitments and implementing processes of continuous improvement
    • supporting and promoting an environmentally responsible culture.

516A (6) (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 statistics that inform decision making on a wide range of social and economic matters.

The ABS works closely with the community and governments to further build information on environmental statistics, to complement the more established information bases on population, society and the economy. The focus of this development work is the integration of environmental statistics with Australia’s economic and social statistics.

For more information on ABS statistical publications and developments, please refer to the ABS website for:

    • Agriculture
    • Rural and Regional Statistics
    • Environment
    • Energy
    • Water
    • Land
    • Ecosystems.

516A (6) (c) What is the effect of the organisation’s activities on the environment?

The ABS’ activities are predominately office-based and have the potential to affect the environment through consumption of energy and water, waste production and waste sent to landfill. The ABS seeks to improve its performance by measuring and managing:

    • energy consumption and greenhouse gas pollution across its offices
    • paper consumption
    • carbon emissions in transportation
    • water usage
    • waste sent to landfill, whilst increasing recycling of packaging and waste
    • the procurement of environmentally friendly products.

In 2018–19, the ABS completed its cycle of lease renewals on ABS properties. With the exception of our warehouse property, all have Green Lease Schedules designed to build a collaborative approach with landlords to managing environmental impacts of the ABS and the buildings it occupies.

516A (6) (d) What measures are taken by the organisation to minimise the impact of its activities on the environment?

The ABS has sought to minimise its impact on the environment through a number of measures, including:

    • finalising the roll out of activity-based work fit outs across all ABS offices to decrease office footprints by an additional 20%. In 2018–19, all ten of the ABS offices have been completed. This has reduced the environmental impact of fit out, furniture production, and the necessary operational services, particularly electricity
    • reducing energy consumption and waste in fit outs, where possible, by including energy efficient LED lights and smart lighting technologies in all tenanted areas. New office fit outs include T5 lighting systems, incorporating daylight harvesting, to reduce consumption nationally
    • the recent refit and base building works of the ABS Canberra Office achieved on average an 86% recycling of building waste against a targeted 80%
    • maximising the amount of furniture and equipment reused for all property fit out projects and where this is not possible, recyclable materials from damaged and non-resaleable furniture have been harvested
    • reducing the demand for paper and hard copies. ABS publications are available on the ABS website, and computer-assisted interviewing is used in place of paper forms, where possible. We have also reduced the number of multi-functional devices (MFDs) in our tenancies to further reduce paper usage
    • reducing the impact of travel on the environment. Improvements in video conferencing equipment and software, and increasing the number of video conferencing facilities and supporting virtual teams across offices to reduce the requirement to travel
    • providing recycling services to all office-based staff, including:
      • recycling paper, bottles, aluminium cans, steel cans, plastic and cardboard products in all offices
      • recycling mobile phones, batteries, polystyrene in all sites where contractor packaging removal was not part of the contracts or service agreements
      • maintaining organic recycling of kitchen waste at ABS House Canberra.

Complying with relevant Commonwealth and Territory environment legislation and the Australian Government’s environmental policies and initiatives

The ABS has maintained its Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Energy Management Plan initiatives, developed in accordance with the Australian Government ICT Sustainability Plan 2010–2015, which included for 2018–19:

  • managed renewal of servers and storage, utilising the latest available technology
  • procuring high efficiency MFDs, with sustainability features including:
    • black drums using less toner and producing 33% more pages before needing service or replacement
    • spent black toner cartridges doubling as waste bottles, eliminating a consumable part
  • utilising “Print on Demand” functionality on all printers and MFDs
  • utilising duplex printing and copying
  • halving standby–timeout period on MFDs to 15 minutes, down from over 30 minutes.

Encouraging and promoting environmentally sound procurement practices in compliance with Commonwealth Procurement Rules by:

    • maintaining procurement of 10% green energy as part of the whole-of-government energy contract for ABS House and 10% green energy for the Sydney, Melbourne, Geelong, Dandenong and Adelaide Offices
    • including environmental and whole-of-life-cycle clauses as part of the tender and evaluation process in most procurement activities
    • leasing vehicles which are the most environmentally effective option for the class according to the Green Vehicle Guide and the further reduction of the fleet over the past twelve months from nine to seven vehicles
    • procuring paper from suppliers who are Supply Nation Certified First Nation businesses and have PEFC certification
    • purchasing office equipment with a high energy efficiency rating.

Providing an environmentally sound workplace and implementing environmentally sound work practices

All staff have access to flexible working arrangements, which has reduced the need to work at ABS offices full-time. This has reduced staff travel to and from offices, and reduced associated office resources use, such as electricity, paper and furniture.

A knowledge framework, incorporating digital recordkeeping rather than paper records, has been implemented, with automatic recordkeeping facilities for ABS workgroup databases.

Environmental efficiency measures have been incorporated into the market testing process for new leases with the integration of Green Lease Schedules for each new tenancy. We also have sought buildings with management systems to control tenancy lighting and drive reductions in energy use.

Re-manufactured and recycled cartridges for photocopiers, faxes and printers are used wherever possible, and used printer cartridges are recycled.

Technological solutions are used to allow collaboration and sharing of information virtually rather than by hardcopy.

Monitoring our energy performance and green lease commitments, and implementing processes of continuous improvement

The ABS monitors its:

    • office energy consumption for all sites
    • Canberra office waste, including organic waste
    • Canberra office water consumption
    • national staff numbers
    • office attendance
    • national paper consumption
    • national fleet operations.

Supporting and promoting an environmentally responsible culture

ABS fosters an environmentally responsible culture by supporting local Green Teams to raise environmental awareness and develop local initiatives. These are supported by a senior executive as Environment Champion, to promote and support sustainability initiatives.

ABS collaborates with other APS agencies and other interested organisations in Melbourne and Canberra on sustainability initiatives.