EMS Association Newsletter Summer 2009

1. EMSA news

2009 National EMS Conference

Bunbury, WA
15-17 September 2009
Co-hosted by the EMS Association and the WA Best Farms group.
Website: http://www.ems.asn.au/events/2009/

Conference highlights include:

  • International speaker Heinz-Werner Engel, Director of the International Network for Environmental Management
  • Opportunity to present papers in five specially selected themes.
  • Presentation of the 2009 National EMS Awards
  • Introduction to EMS Workshop, Monday 14 September.
  • Post conference field trips to regional worksites and locations.

Call for Papers

The call for papers is open on the conference website in the following conference themes.

  • Relevance of EMS to industries and agencies.
  • Is it just about the carbon?
  • Integration of management systems.
  • Recognition and reward for EMS users.
  • Sharing the responsibility for environmental management.

The abstract submission deadline is 15 April 2009.

The best abstracts received in each theme will be invited to present papers in concurrent sessions, while the remainder will be invited to present poster papers. All papers will be refereed and published on the EMS Association website.

Early Bird Registration

All EMSA members will receive discounted conference registration. Check your membership is current by logging into the website to view your status.


Conference Sponsors


The EMS Association invites you to consider the benefits of sponsoring the Conference and promoting the event to your clients and networks. There are a range of sponsorship packages available, starting at $2,500.
We are pleased to announce our first sponsors, Custom Composts of WA and Baiada Poultry and look forward to being able to profile many more sponsors in the coming weeks.

Student Prizes

The Association is seeking sponsors for a student paper prize to be awarded at the Conference. The prize is a new initiative for the Association and aims to foster excellence in research around the development, implementation and policy development of EMS. If you, or your business would like to support this award, please contact the President, Genevieve Carruthers, at president@ems.asn.au, or by phone 0427 102 934.

2009 EMS Awards

The EMS Awards are to be expanded in 2009 to include a local government category. The Awards, which will be presented at the 2009 National EMS Conference, aim to recognise innovative and outcome-focused EMS implementation. Sponsorship opportunities for these Awards are also open. Please contact either Genevieve Carruthers (0427 102 934) or Claire Braund (0409 981 781) to discuss how you may be able to support these Awards.

2. Membership news

EMSA Members recognised for their EMS work

Congratulations to Kirsten Skraha (a 2007-2008 EMSA Committee member) for winning the 2009 RIRDC Rural Women’s Award for WA. Kirsten is the coordinator for the BestFarms Project Coordinator and has worked hard raising the profile of EMS through a range of agricultural industries. Kirsten has been working with the viticultural industries amongst others in WA to develop on-farm EMSs and is interested assisting further adoption of environmental practices and management within the industry that will lead to better production efficiencies and quality produce. Well done, Kirsten!

Is your membership current?

If you want to receive the members’ discount for any EMSA events, including the 2009 conference, then you need to ensure that your membership is current. Login to the website and check your membership status. Click the New Subscription or Renew link.
We now have more than 240 people registered in the website, representing 10 countries.

3. New tools & future directions

The Federal Government has developed a range of EMS resources include document templates, training materials and presentations for raising staff awareness on EMS. These and a range of other EMS resources, including an ever increasing range of ‘Green Calculators’ to measure a range of carbon and environmental issues, are available on the website at: http://www.ems.asn.au/resources.htm.

The Queensland Government announced late last year an increase of environmental levies to be applied to a range of enterprises. Following discussions with the Queensland Farmers Federation and other industry groups, it was agreed to award discounts of between 10-50 per cent on fees if the producer has an 'accredited' Environmental Management System in place and can show that their pollution is well below industry averages. However, the report in the QFF Newsletter (December 2008) did not make clear what is meant by an 'accredited EMS', and whether a third party audit will be required in order to qualify for the fee discounts. It will be interesting to see what effect the discounts have both on environmental outcomes and on EMS uptake.

EMS as a pathway to best practice public reporting.  The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), G3 Reporting Guidelines – 2006, details indicators to report economic, environmental and social performance – known as ‘Sustainability’ reporting. A key reporting requirement of the GRI guideline is to describe the management approach used to develop and maintain economic, environmental and social performance indicators.

The Department of Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts has expanded the original 2002 GRI guidelines to five indicators for environmental management. Using an EMS is seen as one of the core indicators in this suite. These environmental management indicators are outlined in the DEH 2003 publication ‘Triple Bottom Line Reporting – a Guide to Reporting against Environmental Indicators’.

The Department stated that environmental management indicators assess the capacity of an organisation to monitor and control significant environmental risks, and to capitalise on market opportunities. The environmental management indicators provide a context for attaining future performance. The 2006 GRI environmental performance indicator categories include: 

  • Materials
  • Energy
  • Water
  • Biodiversity
  • Emissions, Effluents, and Waste
  • Products and Services
  • Compliance
  • Transport, and
  • Overall

The main purpose of GRI reporting is to disclose other performance information (other than financial information) to stakeholders. This area has increased over the past decade through public and community demand for ethical investments and corporate social responsibility. Organisations wanting to promote their ethical credentials are likely to undertake sustainability reporting using GRI guidelines. The banking sector and car manufacturers are examples. The GRI guidelines also provide a basis for standardised reporting, which means that stakeholders can benchmark within and across industries.

For further information on the GRI G3 Guidelines and the Guide to Reporting against Environmental Indicators  see the resources section at: www.ems.asn.au/resources.htm

4. In the news

Earth Hour
29 March 2009 at 8.30 pm

Australian Associated Press reported (December 10, 2008) that Australia’s largest electronic billboard will urge everyone to switch off the lights as part of the global launch of Earth Hour 2009. The climate change campaign aims to encourage millions of Australians to flick the switch for one hour from 8.30 pm on Saturday, March 29.  The initiative is spearheaded by the World Wildlife Fund and aims to unite one billion people in 1000 cities around the world in the largest-ever global call to action on climate change. WWF says Earth Hour 2009 will also be aimed at world leaders attending the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen next December, encouraging them to strike a new global deal to combat climate change.

Public housing in Sydney is undergoing a greening reform.

The first public housing development to pilot the "Green Star" national standard for energy-efficient residential buildings is planned for Sydney’s Redfern - one of six residential pilots under way nationally, with the results affecting potentially up to 150,000 public housing properties across NSW. The new developments are planned to increase operating efficiency and reduce overall impact by incorporating gas-boosted solar hot water systems, water-saving shower heads, rainwater tanks to supply water for washing clothes and flushing toilets, native landscaping and water recycling for gardens. There will also be cross-ventilation within residences, insulation and thermal materials that act to reduce energy costs year-round. (Material drawn from article by Matthew Levinson Sydney Morning Herald December 10, 2008)

Holden is planning the development of a ‘greener car’

A new 4-cylinder, greener vehicle is under consideration at Holden. The proposed vehicle, aimed at both the domestic and export market could be developed in order to gain access to funds under the $6.2 billion Federal Government automotive assistance scheme, including money for its Green Vehicle fund. The new car would come under the $30,000 market. Holden is also working on a range of technologies to make the Commodore more fuel efficient. One technique is to deactivate half of the V8’s cylinders fuel supply when coasting, effectively leaving the car running on four cylinders. It has also been announced that the 2010 Commodore will be able to use a high ethanol blend of fuel. As for other fuels, LPG use is growing, however compressed natural gas (CNG) is more difficult to source and store, limiting growth in that market. Electric hybrid cars are also on the horizon.
(Material drawn from original article by Andrew Heasley with Barry Park, The Age 10/12/08)

Energy efficient bakehouses

The Feguson Plarre Bakehouses in Melbourne are working on increasing energy efficiency and reducing their carbon footprint (as reported by Bridie Smith, The Age December 16, 2008). The bakery franchise plans within the next 12 months to be able to provide a carbon footprint for each bakery item, based on energy used in their production. The company director, Ralph Plarre believes that such a move completes the overall product information, and complements the nutritional data already supplied. Mr Plarre said his firm had seized the opportunity to become more energy efficient three years ago when plans for a larger factory were being drawn up. Now a year old, the Keilor Park factory, which supplies 40 retail stores, uses less gas, the same amount of water and just 1.5 times as much electricity as the former factory — despite being four times the size. Harvested rainwater is used to flush toilets, water the factory's grounds and wash the delivery trucks — one of which is a hybrid. Energy monitors have also been installed that allow staff to monitor water, gas and electricity use in real time. The importance of involving staff in developments has also been recognised.  Website: http://www.fergusonplarre.com.au/index.html


The development of online trading of emissions permits and the establishment of an agency responsible for oversight of the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme has seen a range of IT projects developed, reports Karen Dearne (January 20, 2009). Development required include a CPRS auction platform and architecture, systems integration, financial management, identity/access, business intelligence systems, web portal design and hosting services.

A new agency, the Australian Climate Change Regulatory Authority, will assess organisations' liability under the National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting Act, enforce compliance and manage the auction or allocation of permits, including collection of revenue. A Kyoto-compliant national emissions registry was completed just before Christmas and represented the first phase of the CPRS system. Countries signing up to the Kyoto Protocol are assigned a number of carbon emission units, and must set up a registry to track and record all trades.  Decisions on contracts for a call centre and future support of the department's main business interface, the Online System for Comprehensive Activity Reporting, are expected early this year.  Data from OSCAR and, eventually, the CPRS, will be fed into the National Greenhouse Energy Reporting System (NGERS), which is being expanded to handle increased mandatory reporting. Businesses can hope for a reduction in red tape, with the department developing standard approaches to energy data sets. Legislation under the Energy Efficiency Opportunities program has been aligned with the new NGERS. As a result, From July 1, corporations will only have to submit data once through a single IT reporting system to cover both reporting obligations.

The importance of being credibly green

The global market downturn is predicted by some to reduce the purchase of environmentally friendly products, perceived to be more expensive than cheaper, but less sustainable, alternatives. This is coupled with an increased scepticism regarding ‘green claims’. Julian Lee (Marketing Reporter January 20, 2009) reported that environmental responsibility was one of the least important drivers for purchases according to the findings of a survey of 800 people by Blue Marlin, a design agency. Overall, two thirds of respondents said environmentally friendly products were overpriced, rising to 72 per cent among families with children. It was reported that products had to deliver ‘tangible benefits’ along with a feel-good factor if they were to be preferentially purchased. Simply relying on an emotional commitment to being green was not enough to motivate purchase. Late last year another company, Mobium Research, which tracks attitudes of 1700 consumers, found that the number of people who said they were willing to pay a 25 per cent premium for a product that was "made in an environmentally friendly manner" had fallen from half in 2007 to a third. It also found that almost nine in 10 consumers distrusted green claims. Annual spending on green-leaning products is forecast to top $22 billion by 2010.

However, Australia's largest retailer of green products and services, Neco said it had yet to witness a sales slump. Its managing director, Julian Smith said he was planning for growth this year, and had just opened a superstore in Melbourne with one planned for Sydney. "Green products have a good message to sell … products like solar panels and water tanks can save you money over time. We are putting out the message that you can save money and be green."

Overall, the story would seem to be that if you are going to make an environmental claim, make sure that it is credible, backed up with strong data, and use an Environmental Management System to ensure continuous improvement of your system, communicating your outcomes as required to suit your ‘customers’(whoever they might be).