Partnerships with the EPA

We work with partners to develop solutions to complex problems and to deliver better environmental and human health outcomes.

Partnerships bring together diverse expertise, knowledge and audiences. More and more regulators work with partners to develop solutions to complex problems and to deliver better environmental and human health outcomes.

Why you should partner with us

We recognise the value of working with organisations who have specific technical expertise, knowledge, skills and networks. Our partnerships help us to solve environmental problems and address environmental challenges together. They also allow us to increase engagement between the public, private, Not-For-Profit, community and education and research sectors, and accelerate the delivery of EPA priorities – water quality, climate change, environmental sustainability, emerging toxins, forestry and odour.

What guides our partnerships?

Our Strategic Plan 2021 – 24 and Regulatory Strategy, recognise that partnerships are a key engagement approach to support and deliver our initiatives.

We support the United Nations Development Goal 17 for sustainable development that states that a successful development agenda requires inclusive partnerships.

Our approach to partnerships

We see partnerships as collaborative relationships that deliver solutions to complex problems. Our partnership approach involves two or more groups coming together to address a common environmental challenge, combine resources and competencies and share risk to maximise value creation and deliver mutual benefit. They are context specific and formed to address a specific challenge or issue and they may be short or long term.

Every partnership is unique, but there are some key attributes that lead to effective partnerships.

Collaborative: longer-term, non-transactional relationship between multiple parties.

Cross sector: includes different stakeholder types such as government, civil society, business, NGOs, and academia. 

Shared interest: overlapping interest around an environmental challenge – if there is a shared problem, there is astrong reason to partner. 

Compatiblity: organisational mandates, risk appetite and conflicts of interest. 

Complimentarity: deliberately seeking difference in skills, expertise, channels and assets to improve or emphasize value. 

Sharing of risk: all parties share risk and have an incentive to engage.

Significant synergies – win/win:  the outcome from partnership approach is much greater than single organisation approach with conventional supply contracts or grants. Each individual partner achieves a net benefit.

The difference between a supplier and a partner

A partnership is a relationship based on mutual trust, openness, a long-term commitment for change, and a shared approach to risk and success that cannot be achieved through the efforts of either organisation alone.

The partnership approach will vary depending on the complexity of the environmental problem, the organisations involved, the capacity and resources to commit and the willingness to share risk.

Some problems will be addressed best through a supplier arrangement, others will benefit from a partnership arrangement.

The supplier/partnership relationship is a spectrum – relationships with more features from the left hand column are likely to be a supplier arrangement, relationships with more features from the right hand column are likely to be a partnership arrangement.

Conventional supply arrangement Full partnership arrangement
  • Low organisational diversity
  • Multiple diverse parties
  • Little overlap in environmental interest – problem sits with one party
  • Strongly overlapping environmental interests – shared problem
  • Risk transfer to third party
  • Shared risk
  • Standardised contracts / grants
  • Bespoke arrangement
  • Low management complexity
  • High management complexity
  • Task oriented
  • Shared tasks and complementary resources
  • Ongoing arrangements

  •  High partnership synergies

The partnership team

The key functions of our partnership team are to

  • build consistency of approach
  • support teams to explore, identify, establish and review strategic partnerships
  • increase visibility of partnerships across the agency and connect staff to resources and support
  • increase external visibility and provide a gateway for potential partners to engage with the EPA
  • develop tools to increase capability and support best practice

2023 Sustainability Partnerships program

The 2023 Sustainability Partnerships program sought to partner with organisations that want to act on climate change.

Our focus is on enabling and supporting best practice and building collaborative processes to ensure any actions we take are meaningful, feasible and cost-effective

A successful partnership is rooted in shared understanding, transparency, and clear communication. We have devised a series of criteria and intended outcomes outlining what we hope to achieve through partnerships.

  • Focus on gaps in climate change action and not duplicate existing efforts
  • Improve the EPA’s understanding of industry and regulated community needs (e.g. agricultural sector, waste sector local government)
  • Support pilots that meet one or more policy or funding gaps, which could inform future programs for the EPA.
  • Improve community perception of the EPA’s role in climate change
  • Strengthen the EPA's regulatory role through the continued implementation of its Regulatory Strategy and Policy (Listen, Educate, Enable, Influence).

Our 2023 Sustainability Partners

  • Australasian College for Emergency Medicine (ACEM) – This will be the first project to ever quantify the additional emergency departments (ED) workload, costs and resource implications from climate change across EDs accredited by ACEM, which account for the majority (75%) of all ED presentations across NSW.
  • Boomerang Labs – A specialist program for circular economy startups, providing the skills and support required to scale and commercialise.
  • Charitable Recycling – This project will develop a methodology to measure data on reuse, taking into account the environmental, economic, and social impacts associated with reuse.
  • Civic Future Labs – The Circularity for Climate program supports NSW CEOs with Net Zero targets to address decarbonisation pain-points through co-designing and piloting circular strategies that leverage value chain collaboration, ecosystem partnerships and advanced technologies.
  • Dairy Up – This project will build on the work and relationships with Farms that Dairy Up to capture additional data on pasture/crop, soil and animal levels to estimate more robust net Carbon emissions and balances in NSW dairy farms.
  • Green Music Australia – through the Green Action Program, its second in partnership with the EPA, Green Music will help participating NSW music businesses to better understand, monitor and improve their environmental impact. Green Music will also convene a Music Product Stewardship Alliance, bringing the sector together to see how it get better manage its waste collectively.
  • Hunter Joint Organisation –An emissions data management program will be developed to accelerate emissions reduction activities for council-owned landfills in the Hunter. The project brings together measurement, reporting, and communications to better understand landfill emissions profiles and inform climate mitigation strategies.

Phasing out single-use plastics in NSW

The NSW Government has a commitment to ban certain problematic plastics, such as single-use plastics and address the problem of plastic waste.

We are working with a diverse range of partners to support the ban of single-use plastics, increase awareness and shift attitudes towards single-use plastics. Over time we will work with partners to address other sustainability and environmental issues.

Our 2022 Sustainability Partners

  • Girl Guides NSW will install waste sorting stations at their 15 campsites. They will also launch an education program for members to learn about and support the plastic bans in NSW and reduce plastics pollution. Girl Guides is seeking to become more sustainable as an organisation and this is an important first step.
  • Green Connect will create a community of people who use gathered and donated fabrics and items, to make reusable bags and other alternatives to single use plastics.  They are extremely creative and have fantastic ideas like making party packs. These party packs will have reusable decorations that can be rented out for parties, a great alternative to streamers and other decorations that are used once and disposed of.
  • Green Music Australia will work alongside with the music festival sector and music venues across NSW to develop awareness and action toward sustainable operations in the NSW music industry, with a focus on transition from single use plastics.
  • KU Children's Services will audit the plastics used in their kindergartens across the state to better understand their own use and how they can be more sustainable. They will trial alternatives and deliver education programs to raise awareness and gain support for the changes across their business and families.
  • Meals on Wheels NSW will raise awareness about the plastics ban among their clients, members and volunteers. It will encourage everyone involved to make sustainable changes to this valued community service and achieve their net zero by 2050 target.
  • Men's Sheds are community hubs where a conversation between mates over coffee or in the workshop could result in a real change in behaviour. This project will see men across NSW talking about problem plastics, the single-use plastics ban, alternative solutions and opportunities in their communities.
  • NSW Environmental & Zoo Education Centres (EZEC). This project will engage 20 schools to deliver education focused on waste, plastics and sustainability. It will look at how they are using plastic and make changes through the delivery of plastic reduction programs.
  • OzGreen will target food organisations and vendors at festivals on the North and Mid-North Coast to raise awareness about the plastics ban changes, gain business support, implement waste reduction programs, and help drive positive behaviour change across the community.
  • Plastic Free July will partner with us to deliver a year-long behaviour change campaign to drive support for the plastics ban. Plastic Free July is an international movement that seeks to avoid plastics. This work will extend their reach into NSW and encourage communities to reduce single use plastic waste.
  • Southern Cross University. Using the University's research and teaching capability, an education program will deliver initiatives including an innovation challenge for high school students and a Hackathon for university students, tackling real life business challenges around single use plastics and the circular economy.
  • Surfing NSW are riding the wave of change with us and getting their community on board with the plastics ban. They'll use events and social media relevant to local communities and ocean lovers to raise awareness, and provide support to local boardriding clubs to implement strategies to support the bans.
  • Tafe NSW / Addison Road Community Organisation. Addi Road will engage artists to produce culturally appropriate content to drive change around the reliance on single use plastics and problematic plastics among non-English speaking communities. It's a fantastic project that will involve the help of 10 language groups.
  • Take 3 are focused on targeting the social media feeds of NSW residents and raising awareness about the plastics ban. The online campaign for small business and their customers will use storytelling to encourage behaviour change through small actions to create large scale change.
  • The Great Plastics Rescue will work with impacted businesses and organisations who have excess light-weight plastic bags. They'll work with businesses to collect and reprocess the stock, and will  promote participating businesses as Champions of Change.
  • University of New England. The University aims to shift social norms through their podcast program that's already doing an excellent job at educating listeners and driving change in our community.
  • University of Newcastle. The University will create a sustainable cookbook about reducing food based single use plastics. It's a fantastic way to get students and the broader community to consider the actions in their own kitchens and how they can reduce the impact of problematic plastics on our environment.
  • University of Wollongong. This project will drive a cultural change among staff and students at the Wollongong campus. The funding will support a waste audit and installation of plate and cutlery return station and organics bin to educate and champion change among students on campus.
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