Some leading Australian examples

Here’s several examples of associations taking action. Readers can analyse these measures and their own associations for delivery and results. Are they changing their operations AND supporting members to cut emissions and prepare for climate change impacts? Has your association and members committed to net zero net emissions by 2050 and 50% reduction by 2030 to help Australia and the world meet its goals? Here are some associations that are making moves forward and may soon win limelight and accolades!

Association sustainability committees

Several associations have a Sustainability Committee to assist engage, advise and oversee sustainability issues, regulations and initiatives. Some are still passive and reflective or even silent, and others are fair dinkum and leading their members on greenhouse gas emissions and climate change. Where is your association on this vital matter?
The National Retail Association (NRA) has a National Retail Sustainability Committee. It seeks to minimise member’s impact on the environment, while maintaining reputation and meeting the current and future expectations of customers. Members of the NRA and external observers can look at their annual reports, published media statements and programs to see how effective they are on climate and emissions? The Committee’s current aims include:
  • to bring together experts from across the retail industry, government and associated stakeholders to continue the momentum of positive sustainability regulations; and
  • to consider the impact of retail activities upon sustainability, the community and environment.

Accord is the Association for Hygiene, Personal Care and Specialty Products. It’s Innovation & Sustainability Executive Committee provides leadership on projects and priorities for its Innovation Strategy, with a particular focus on SME manufacturing companies. Again, members of Accord can look to see how the association is addressing its own risks and emissions, and supporting its members to do the same.


The Australian Food and Grocery Council (AFGC) has one of its four internal divisions allocated to sustainability. The division covers key sustainability issues including water, waste, energy and climate change. Theirs is a more explicit statement acknowledging climate change, and the AFGC’s website shows the actions they are undertaking to address emissions, reduce climate impacts and the actions they are taking to support their members.
Community and government interest in responsible sourcing, food waste and recycling has increased exponentially. AFGC WEBSITE
AFGC states that it takes the lead in identifying model sustainability practices and fostering wider industry adoption of these practices, working with members to reduce the food and grocery manufacturing sector’s environmental footprint. It does this by fostering collaboration throughout the value chain, identifying best-practice and highlighting industry successes and opportunities. Given the AFGC represents a key sector for provision of food and groceries to Australians, all members and observers can assess and support its progress on emissions and climate.


Some Associations acknowledge the benefits of teaming up with experts and providers to act on emissions and climate change. The Australian Industry Group has support in place for the Industry Energy Transition Initiative. The IETI brings together leaders from industry and business to coordinate learning and action on net zero emissions supply chains. The Australian IETI invites interest from across the network of Australia’s emissions-intensive industry and related business. The AiG has also been a strong advocate loudly calling for far greater action by governments and industry to meet Paris Agreement targets.
NRA has an arrangement with ReThink Sustainability to provide advisory services to the association and its members on energy efficiency and management. ReThink is an example of a consultancy providing advice to companies and not for profits on energy, water, carbon, leadership communications and education.
The Australian Sporting Goods Association has an arrangement with sports shoe recycling initiative, Save Our Soles. Across Australia, the disposal of pre-loved athletic shoes via incineration or landfill represents a major environmental concern and waste. The SOS Initiative, starting in Victoria, is one step by this association toward improved sustainability and accountability. Check out their video and how they are progressing on climate and emissions.

Setting up programs for members and supply chains

Most associations engage government on policy changes and their members on implementation. However, too few associations have engaged positively on emissions, climate change, and efficiencies in energy, water, materials and products. This is changing as associations recognise the impact of their members’ activities and the rising tide of public opinion for responsibility and action. Some proactive associations are instigating their own programs. In the early 2010s, Accord developed a voluntary eco-labelling scheme for toxicity of commercial cleaning products.  The Recognised® eco-label identifies environmentally preferable commercial cleaning products. The Recognised® eco-label is seen on leading environmental commercial cleaning products. It is not however adopted by all companies or for all relevant products, and does not yet include GHG emissions in its remit. These are important next step improvements by members and the association and would assist Australia lower its emissions.
Act, read and share
Think what actions your association can take beyond what it’s currently doing. And put your ideas forward for adoption.

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