The ACCC has today 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. The draft guide 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,” ACCC Acting Chair Mick Keogh said.

“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,” Mr Keogh said.

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,” Mr Keogh said.

“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,” Mr Keogh said.

“We would like to hear if our draft guide improves businesses’ understanding of the potential competition law risks when collaborating to achieve environmental benefits, and if it provides information about the necessary steps to address those concerns.”

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 2024. 


Following consultation on the draft ‘Sustainability collaborations and Australian competition law’ guide, the ACCC will consider submissions received and publish a finalised guide on its website. The ACCC anticipates this will occur late-2024.   

The ACCC’s enforcement and compliance priorities for 2024-25 include consumer, product safety, fair trading and competition concerns in relation to environmental claims and sustainability.

In December 2023, the ACCC published a ‘Making environmental claims’ guide to improve the integrity of environmental and sustainability claims made by businesses and protect consumers from ‘greenwashing’.