Sustainability for businesses

Advice to reduce costs, cut carbon emissions and run a sustainable business.

As a business, you can play a key role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and reducing the impacts of climate change. Sustainable business practices are not only good for the environment they can also reduce operating costs, enhance your reputation and improve the conditions of your premises.

Getting started

There are many ways to adapt your business to reduce greenhouse emissions and become more sustainable. Here are some general tips and first steps to help get you started.

Do your research

  • Understand how your sector is contributing to climate change and how your business is generating greenhouse emissions.
  • Consider whether energy use, transport, or agriculture are your biggest contributors to climate change.

Set clear goals

  • Be clear about your direction and set specific actions that your business can achieve. Start with existing operations and processes and look for areas that could be improved or streamlined.
  • What changes would you expect to see if your business was operating sustainably?

Focus on quick wins

  • Focus on ‘quick wins’, such as reducing plastic packaging, upgrading to energy efficient appliances, installing solar panels, going paperless, or switching to green energy.
  • Consider what changes will reduce costs as well as reduce your impact on the environment.

Get inspiration from other people

  • Don’t reinvent the wheel, see what others in your sector are doing.
  • Ask your co-workers and employees for ideas.

Resources to support you

There’s lots of support out there, so make the most of what’s available. Here are a few links to resources:

Small business climate adaptation toolkit - an interactive toolkit with seven steps to help businesses prepare for climate change and prepare adaptation plans. 
Circular Economy Business Innovation Centre – business practices, advice, programs, events, funding, and grant opportunities
Business Guide to declaring a Climate Emergency (PDF 1.1 MB) – business case tips, drafting a declaration and making it happen
CitySwitch for office-based businesses – a free program helping businesses on their journey to net zero emissions
Nine steps to a more sustainable bar, restaurant or café (PDF 162 KB)
Plug in to new energy tech – advice on solar panels, batteries and electric vehicles

Energy efficiency and solar

Energy is a significant expense in most businesses. Making upgrades to your premises to make them more energy efficient is a great investment for your business.

Three reasons to upgrade your business:

  1. Save on your electricity bills
  2. Reduce greenhouse gas emissions
  3. Add value to your property

Energy improvements to consider

Whether you are looking to make major changes or just a few small tweaks, there are a range of ways you can upgrade your premises to make them more energy efficient and comfortable. Here are some improvements to consider:

  • Upgrade to a reverse cycle / split system air conditioner to heat and cool
  • Upgrade old appliances such as old fridges to energy-efficient models
  • Upgrade hot water systems to an electric heat-pump or solar hot water system
  • Install draught proofing along doors and windows to control air flow
  • Install block out blinds and outdoor blinds to shade hot sunshine
  • Improve insulation in the roof area and add wall insulation
  • Install solar panels to reduce reliance on the electricity grid.

Support for Energy Upgrades

In the City of Port Phillip, there is a way to fund your sustainable business improvements through Environmental Upgrade Finance. This is where a building owner borrows money for an environmental upgrade and payments are made through your local council rates. Savings from improvements can often be positive for your cashflow. For more information visit Environmental Upgrade Finance for business.

The Victorian Government offers discounts to businesses on a range of energy-efficient products such as fridges, split systems, clothes dryers, lighting, hot water, window glazing, fans, motors and televisions. For details, visit Victorian Energy Upgrades for businesses.

For other tips on reducing energy costs visit

Energy providers

Are you looking for green energy providers? Check out these handy guides to help you decide:

Waste and recycling

Reducing waste is important for businesses. It can reduce business costs and enhance your reputation, giving you a competitive edge.

A waste audit is a great way to identify the types of materials your business throws away and see where improvements can be made. Make a start on your audit with this Waste Guide and Checklist.

Visit the A to Z guide to recycling page for detailed information.

Using materials efficiently

Doing more with less will ultimately save your business money. There are many actions a business can take to improve materials efficiency. These include process changes to improve productivity and reduce waste, and redesigning products so they use less material in their production. For more tips visit - materials efficiency for business.

Recycling in Port Phillip

Where possible, avoid sending waste to landfill. The Resource Recovery Centre accepts a range of items such as e-waste, plant pots, green waste, small car parts, cooking oils, motor oils and more. For a full list of accepted items visit - Resource Recovery Centre

Businesses can also arrange for other waste items such as food and used cooking oil to be picked up and recycled by independent contractors.


Businesses are required by law to manage litter generated by their business including cigarette butts. Whether it’s staff, customers or visitors littering within or outside the boundary of your property, it’s your responsibility to collect, store and dispose of this litter.

To prevent cigarette butt litter, provide an appropriate butt bin. If butts are dropped outside your premises sweep them up and into the bin, not the gutter. Cigarette butts can also be recycled by TerraCycle.

Order your Zero Waste Box today

Reducing plastic

Plastic harms wildlife including sea turtles and sea birds, the environment and our health. From early 2023, a range of single use plastic items are banned in Victoria. Find out more about the Single Use Plastics ban in Victoria.

Other plastics that can be reduced across your business include packaging, event and promotion waste such as balloons, and disposable drink containers. A Container Deposit Scheme is being introduced in Victoria to recycle drink containers with a 10-cent refund for every container.

More information

For Council waste and recycling services visit business waste and recycling.

Contact us

For questions about making your business more sustainable, contact the Sustainability and Climate Change team:

Phone: 03 9209 6777