Sustainability Victoria is a Victorian Government Statutory Authority working to facilitate and promote environmental sustainability in the use of resources. It achieves this by implementing government policies and initiatives through targeted programs with a measurable impact in integrated waste management and resource efficiency. It also committed to the whole-of-government efficiency aim to reduce the cost of living and the cost of doing business.
The Smarter Choice retail program
The Smarter Choice retail program commenced in 2007 to ensure households were provided with the information and advice needed about energy and water efficiency and potential running cost savings when purchasing appliances through retailers. The program’s 18 fact sheets outline things such as running costs, recommended minimum star ratings and energy and water savings and greenhouse gas emissions, covering a range of appliances and sustainable products including all white goods, televisions, heating and cooling, hot water systems, lighting and insulation. Over 500 retailers across Victoria provide their customers with materials from Sustainability Victoria’s program, and within the last year a total of 3,825 retail staff have been trained in the use of these materials. An online calculator has also been developed for households to access and compare appliance running costs and is available on state government Smarter Choice websites as well as partner sites such as Harvey Norman and Bosch.
Of the 90 per cent of appliance retailers on board, 95 per cent believe that there have been changes to consumer awareness through the program. A study of Victorian consumers in 2013 estimated more than 60,000 households were influenced by the program in that 12 month period in their purchase of more than 120,000 products. The collective cost savings from running the more efficient appliances was estimated at $1.83 million a year. The program has been adopted by the Queensland Environment Protection Agency and the New South Wales Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH).
Socially, a very well focused and important program reinforcing the energy savings initiatives already well established for consumers. The judges would like to commend Sustainability Victoria on a great mix of environmental and financial education to help consumers make environmentally and economically sound decisions. The results of the program emphasise the power an educated consumer harnesses.