19-20
Feb

Transparency Project Seminar

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The Transparency Project: Everyday Products, Consumer Knowledge and Environmental Impacts

Hosted by China Australia Centre for Sustainable Development at the University of South Australia this one day and a half seminar and linked publication will be focused on the problem of opacity, or a lack of evident transparency and traceability in everyday products in today’s global economy.

Consumers today have very little reliable information about the environmental impacts of the products and services that dominate their lives. From cars and phones to furniture, appliances and packaged foods, most products and services are understood and compared in terms of advertised claims which can be misleading. There is growing evidence to suggest that when consumers are made aware of an environmental problem (as in the ABC’s War on Waste TV series), they are more likely to accept pro-environmental regulatory change (such as bans on plastic bags).

“68% of viewers reported behavioural changes in response to War on Waste, equating to about 20% of the adult Australian population”  

Source: War on Waste Impact Report

Given recent rapid advancements in material and energy assessment, sensing and communication technologies, there are few reasons why environmental impact information cannot be presented to consumers and other actors in the market in a more accessible format. Policy makers, designers, producers, retailers and waste managers could also benefit from access to this information.

This seminar and related book project aim to explore how we might be able to establish higher standards of transparency and traceability in everyday consumption, and how this might be used to support a transition to more ‘responsible production and consumption’ (UN’s Sustainable Development Goal 12: Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns). Policy and regulation, business and economic development, design and production, and waste management services could all benefit from reducing the global economy’s present environmental opacity.

THEMES

Multidisciplinary in focus, the seminar’s organisers invite presentations on three themes:

  1. Case Studies profiling the impacts of products and services in everyday use, clarifying ways of measuring their impacts in a more accessible manner.
  2. Communicating environmental impacts more effectively to non-specialists, through labelling, app-based systems, sensing, and other assessment systems.
  3. Policy and regulation transitions towards ‘responsible production and consumption’ (UN’s Sustainable Development Goal 12), with a particular focus on greater transparency and traceability.

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Unmaking Waste is a partnership with the China Australia Centre for Sustainable Development at the University of South Australia which has delivered two successful international conferences as well as photography and design exhibitions and a number of publications.

Unmaking Waste focuses on a cross-disciplinary approach and engages with themes such as circular economy, waste, design, consumption, production and the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, in particular, SDG 12; Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns.

Sustainable consumption and production is about promoting resource and energy efficiency, sustainable infrastructure, and providing access to basic services, green and decent jobs and a better quality of life for all. Its implementation helps to achieve overall development plans, reduce future economic, environmental and social costs, strengthen economic competitiveness and reduce poverty.