A new federal environmental protection agency (EPA) will be the “tough cop on the beat” and enforce national environmental standards as business looks for profits in sustainability.

On Thursday Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek announced the government would establish the EPA in response to a 2020 review of existing environmental laws that found they were “ineffective”.

“Nature’s being destroyed, businesses are waiting too long for decisions – that’s bad for everyone and it has to change,” Plibersek said.

The EPA will enforce environmental protection laws and have the power to stop developments depending on their impact on the environment.

Along with establishing the EPA, the new legislation – to be introduced next year – will enshrine a set of standards to inform decision-making around all environmental matters, and protect areas of national environmental significance.

The reform announcement follows a UN-backed report that found the Great Barrier should be listed as a World Heritage site that is officially “in danger” – a classification the government has pushed back against.

Among the report’s recommendations was for the government to clarify its commitments to reduce greenhouse emissions and improve agricultural standards around the Reef, especially for sugarcane and banana farming.

Businesses are also starting to get the message when it comes to environmental protection.

A recent survey from SAP found 86 per cent of Australian business leaders are now seeing a connection between sustainability and profitability.

The problem is getting the right data with 30 per cent of businesses are relying on assumptions about how their supply chain affects the environment, and 76 per cent admitting they don’t have the full picture on supply chain sustainability.

“If Australia is going to move towards a more sustainable future, organisations across the country need to embrace sustainability as part of what they do every day, and embed these strategies into their operating models,” Damien Bueno, President and Managing Director, SAP Australia and New Zealand said.

Tech companies like SAP see the need for environment sustainability as a market opportunity.

Just a week ago Lenovo launched its Sustainability Services Consultancy in Australia and New Zealand, bundling up services for recycling enterprise laptops and offsetting carbon credits which local Managing Director Matt Codrington said will “help any organisation with a desire to operate more sustainably, whether they are starting out or looking to the next phase”.

Climate tech startups are getting onboard as well including the likes of Queensland company PlanetPrice which showcased its platform to help companies make green purchasing decisions at October’s Something Tech event in Brisbane.

PlanetPrice ingests a company’s procurement data, categorises it with the help of AI, and returns a quantified value in terms of the company’s supply chain ‘cost’ to the planet.

“We’re trying to use a different language that talks directly to business by expressing in monetary terms the environmental cost of their business,” Planet Price founder Andy Hill told Information Age.