5 minute read

In this article, I’m highlighting an example of progressive sustainability leadership by one of Australia’s key industry associations.

Based in Sydney, Accord is the association for the hygiene, personal care and specialty products sector. This covers a vast array of everyday consumer goods, such as cosmetics, toiletries, household cleaning products. The association also represents the sector’s raw materials suppliers. It’s clearly an area with potential for environmental impact, and Accord has been very active on a variety of management strategies.

Accord has a substantial record of innovation and action on environmental sustainability.  This article describes some of the varied ways they have led their members and, more broadly, their sector.

‘I am thankful that ours is a progressive and forward-looking industry, and this is reflected in the work Accord does. Rather than sitting back and waiting for directions from government, Accord has a long history of taking the lead on important sustainability and consumer education initiatives.’

Tracey Raso, Accord Chair

Accord’s programs and actions

Active association sustainability committee

Accord’s Innovation & Sustainability Executive Committee provides governance on projects and priorities as part of Accord’s Innovation Strategy, with a particular focus on SME manufacturing companies.

Climate action commitment in association charter

Accord has its own sustainability charter incorporating areas of focus on energy, materials and water use.

Sustainability programs for members and broader supply chain

In the early 2010s, Accord developed an eco-labelling scheme for commercial cleaning products.  The Recognised® eco-label identifies environmentally preferable commercial cleaning products. The Recognised® eco-label has been seen on leading commercial cleaning products in the Australian marketplace since mid-2012.

Recognised® products undergo independent third-party scientific assessment against a rigorous multiple-criteria standard. The scheme was reviewed by an independent expert panel of toxicologists as a “sound and robust…science-based, targeted and pragmatic set of criteria”, coupled with a “sound and transparent” third-party scientific accreditation process. Sustainable procurement organisation Sustainable Choice NSW accepts accreditation under the Recognised® scheme as evidence towards product listing on its procurement database.

Self-regulatory programs

Two significant self-regulatory programs stand out.

Accord’s national Phosphorus Standard for phosphorus content and labelling of household laundry detergents has formed part of the laundry industry’s contribution to protecting Australia’s waterways since 1994. The standard establishes sector-wide benchmarks for phosphorus content in household laundry detergents and has driven innovation towards lower phosphorus formulations.

The BeadRecede program coordinated the voluntary industry phase-out of microbeads in ‘rinse-off’ cosmetics, personal care and cleaning products. Launched in early 2017, the program achieved almost complete phase-out by late 2018, as acknowledged by Commonwealth and state ministers. The program gained support of Accord members and non-members.

Training – for members, the wider industry and the supply chain

Accord runs regular member webinars on environment and sustainability issues. And Accord’s 2019 Cleaning and Hygiene Conference examined cutting-edge innovations and explored sustainability initiatives in Australia and globally.

Stewardship programs

As an industry with potentially significant impacts on the environment, Accord’s Sustainability Charter highlights the importance of Environmental Stewardship, encouraging members to protect the natural environment, optimise resource efficiency and contribute to problem-solving. Project examples are provided, including those for biodiversity, optimising resource efficiency and best water practice. 

Member/Industry resources

Accord’s website provides links to relevant external service providers and resources in environmental management. It also lists details of member company sustainability initiatives. This facilitates action and advocacy beyond their own association. The extensive information on the Accord website is a public resource, and so available to non-members, the industry’s supply chain, peers and the wider community – in Australia and in other countries.

Sustainability Checklist

The Responsible Supplier checklist is valuable tool for members in sustainable purchasing. Based upon an ideal behaviour model, it covers potential purchasing impacts under six key ‘Checkpoints’. Organisations can use the checklist to ‘measure up’ potential suppliers, or themselves, according to their performance across 11 key categories.

‘Accord has a proud history of implementing effective, voluntary industry initiatives to achieve positive sustainability outcomes for our sector. We look forward to capitalising on the success of these past initiatives to work closely with government on industry-led programs to tackle emerging issues.’

Bronwyn Capanna, Executive Director

Contributing to government policy and initiatives

Copies of submissions to government are available on the Accord website. These analyse and discuss policy proposals, put forward rationales for the industry’s position and identify alternative opportunities. Including these on the site provides the wider community with insights potentially relevant to their own situation.

Partnerships with academic institutions

Accord has partnered with Monash University to help facilitate partnerships for sustainability opportunities and green chemistry innovations, as well as future industry pathways for STEM graduates.

Consumer/user education initiatives

Accord has established Washwise – a website created to help consumers wash economically and sustainably: choosing an energy efficient washing machine, using eco-friendly detergents and reusing greywater.


Examples of member actions

Including links to actions taken by individual member companies is an important thing to include on association websites …

Accord’s website lists member companies’ own programs as role models in environmental packaging, material efficiency and recoverability; and implementing environmentally sustainable sourcing practices.

*All the above information was taken from the Accord website

Association role model

Accord is to be congratulated for the breadth of its programs and suite of actions in environmental sustainability. It is a clear model to inspire other associations.

There’s always more that can be done. I know that Accord will continue to build on its work to date.

Act, read and share

Think what actions your association can take beyond what it’s currently doing? And put your ideas forward as a priority.

For more examples, see Inspiring real action – Associations acting for sustainability.