Detailed guidance for environmentally sustainable business practices

Find model approaches and further information in relation to environmentally sustainable business practices.


Environmentally sustainable business practices is one of three sustainable procurement objectives included in the Social Procurement Framework. 

Corresponding sustainable outcome 

The Social Procurement Framework identifies one sustainable outcome corresponding to this sustainable procurement objective: 

  1. Adoption of sustainable business practices by suppliers to the Victorian Government. 

Individual procurement activity requirements for government buyers (Table 3 of the Social Procurement Framework) recommends the following actions: 

For individual procurement activities valued at or above $1 million (regional) or $3 million (metro or State-wide) up to $20 million (exclusive of GST), government buyers ask suppliers to demonstrate environmentally sustainable business practices in weighted framework criteria. 

Adoption of sustainable business practices by suppliers to the Victorian Government

Benefits for Victorians 

The Victorian Government is committed to promoting environmental responsibility and expects its suppliers to minimise the environmental impact of their operations and maintain environmentally responsible policies and practices, in accordance with the Supplier Code of Conduct.  

The Supplier Code of Conduct applies to all contracts, agreements and purchase orders from 1 July 2017, and requires suppliers to acknowledge minimum ethical standards of behaviour, including in relation to environmental management which are excerpted below: 

Environmental impacts 

Suppliers must comply with all applicable laws and regulations relating to the environment, including any management and reporting obligations. Suppliers are expected to manage the environmental impact of their operations by: 

  1. ensuring the safe storage, transportation and disposal of hazardous substances including hazardous waste; 
  2. maintaining policies and practices for the efficient use of energy, water and natural resource consumption; and 
  3. maintaining policies and practices that reduce the risk of pollution, loss of biodiversity, deforestation, damage to ecosystems and greenhouse gas emissions. 

All procurement has some level of impact on the environment that should be minimised. By requiring suppliers to adopt environmentally sustainable business practices that meet or exceed specified standards of environmental performance, Government can reduce the environmental impact of acquiring goods, services and construction, and raise performance across the State. 

Ensuring that suppliers operate in an environmentally responsible manner and meet or exceed minimum standards of environmental performance can contribute to, for example:  

  • maximising recyclable and recovered content; 
  • minimising waste and greenhouse gas emissions; 
  • conserving energy, water and natural resources; 
  • minimising habitat destruction and environmental degradation; and  
  • providing non-toxic solutions and dealing with hazardous substances responsibly. 

Model approach for government buyers 

The model approach to delivering this outcome involves two components: 

  • Prior to going to market, consider the potential environmental impact of the goods, services or construction being procured and how these may be best mitigated and managed, including but not limited to: 
    • whether the goods, services or construction can be delivered with reduced waste; 
    • the lifecycle impact of the goods, services or construction being procured; and 
    • available options for sustainable design and materials in delivery of required outcomes. 
  • Include environmentally sustainable business practices as a weighted evaluation criterion when undertaking procurements and require suppliers to: 
    • complete an environmentally sustainable business practices self-assessment checklist  and 
    • where applicable provide documentary evidence in support of the responses in the self-assessment checklist. 

Where appropriate, government buyers may require suppliers to provide a written declaration in relation to the supplier’s responses to the self-assessment checklist.

The model approach to delivering this outcome involves two components, requiring suppliers to:

  • commit to targets for Environmentally sustainable business practices (note: the government buyer may select one or more cohorts or include all cohorts)
  • explain how they will identify Environmentally sustainable business practices.

Response schedules

The response schedules related to Environmentally sustainable business practices are available in the Social procurement toolkit.

Further information for buyers – Sustainability Victoria 

Environmentally sustainable business practices cover a variety of areas, including but not limited to: 

  • minimising the use of energy, water and natural resources; 
  • waste management (including maximising resource recovery); 
  • use of recycled products and products with low environmental impact; 
  • minimising and mitigating carbon / greenhouse gas emissions; 
  • habitat and environment protection; and 
  • travel. 

Organisations may implement relevant business practices under a broader framework such as an environment management system or sustainability policy or feature a number of individual strategies targeting specific environmental business practice areas. 

An environment management system is a systemic and structured system designed to ensure that organisations manage any environmental impacts created by their products, services and activities and continuously improve environmental performance. An environment management system provides a formal structure to environmental management and covers areas such as training, record management, inspections, objectives and policies. 

An environment management system may be designed to meet accreditation requirements, such as those of the International Organisation for Standardisation or another relevant, recognised authority. 

Tools and support 

This content on this page is taken from the Social Procurement Framework – Buyer Guidance Guide to individual procurement activity requirements. Access a PDF version in the social procurement document library

For more information about social procurement, please contact the Social Procurement team.