The sustainability sector guides outline the different sustainability issues that can affect businesses within six sectors.
The mix of sustainability issues will vary between sectors. Many factors can influence the mix of sustainability issues in a sector – across social, economic and environmental sustainability. (See What is sustainability?)
The guides cover six sectors:
Some sectors use a lot of electricity or burn coal for heat and will generate greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Other sectors will be low energy users but might use timber or natural fibres that are grown or harvested in a way that has a significant impact on the environment. Some sectors face social sustainability issues because there is a high risk of exploitation or other unethical practices along the supply chain.
Sustainability issues can also differ between enterprises in the sector. A small business may be particularly vulnerable to changes in the Australian dollar. Or a business may have proprietary technology or processes that reduce their environmental impact compared to others in the sector.
As a Registered Training Organisation (RTO) working with the Sustainable Operations qualifications it is important that you identify the particular issues within a sector (and business) in order to:
- Consult with clients and understand their business and skill needs
- Develop your training and assessment strategy
- Contextualise training and assessment materials and activities.
The sustainability sector guides will assist you to identify the sustainability issues in a sector and/or business. They provide a high-level snapshot of sustainability in the sector which can be used as a basis to research and discuss specific issues with clients.
Each guide provides a process flow which reflects some of the steps that are common at the sector level. This is an intentionally generic process flow that aims to demonstrate how the process might interact with environmental, social and economic sustainability issues. The process flows are not intended to reflect the various technologies and practices that are used by different enterprises.
The guides then show how some of the processes used in the sector relate to sustainability issues – ranging from energy and water consumption to supply chain issues and community relationships. They provide a more detailed explanation of some of the sustainability issues that are likely to have a high impact.
The guides provide brief and simplified examples only and cannot cover all of the sustainability issues and variables within a sector. They are not a comprehensive analysis of the sector or its technology and processes. They do not cover sub-groups of products and processes within the sector. You will need to explore all of these issues in more detail to get an accurate understanding of sustainability in the sector.
The guides are not intended as learning materials for students, however, they may be useful as part of a suite of information resources. They might also provide a model which you can adapt, expand and/or contextualise for use in your own materials.