Monday, July 22, 2024

ACCC releases guide on sustainability collaborations

The ACCC has published a draft guide on sustainability collaborations and Australian competition law.

The draft guide is designed to help businesses understand the competition law risks that may arise when contemplating working together to achieve positive environmental outcomes. It also explains how ACCC authorisation may be available to facilitate these agreements even if there are potential competition concerns.

“As Australia transforms to a more sustainable economy, there will be instances where businesses seek to work together to achieve better environmental outcomes,” says ACCC Acting Chair Mick Keogh.

“When businesses work together, they sometimes risk breaching competition law, but legal protection via an ACCC authorisation may be available so that they can pursue their goals without that risk.”

ACCC authorisation provides a legal exemption from the competition provisions of the Competition and Consumer Act (CCA).

Once authorisation is granted, businesses can implement their collaboration without risk of the ACCC, or third parties, taking legal action against them for a breach of the competition provisions in the CCA.

“Broadly, the ACCC may grant an authorisation when it is satisfied that the likely public benefit resulting from the proposed conduct outweighs any likely public detriment, such as a lessening of competition,” says Mr Keogh.

The ACCC can take a broad range of public benefits into account as part of its assessment of an application for authorisation, including those that protect the environment and promote sustainability. These could be in the form, for example, of reduced greenhouse gas emissions, benefits for biodiversity and water systems or waste reduction.

“We have a clear legal mandate to take sustainability benefits into account when considering how best to promote competition and advance the interests of consumers,” says Mr Keogh.

“Our intention in developing this guide is to make it clear competition law should not be seen as an immovable obstacle for collaboration on sustainability that can have a public benefit.

“We have already authorised a wide range of agreements that have led to sustainability-related public benefits, such as industry stewardship schemes, joint buying of renewable energy, and collaboration to manage disruptions to recycling systems.”

The ACCC is seeking feedback from businesses, peak bodies and other stakeholders on the draft guide. Consultation for the draft guide is now open and closes on 26 July.

Related Articles

Stay Connected


Subscribe to our newsletter

To be updated with all the latest news, offers and special announcements.