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Towards environmental management accounting for trade-offs

Katherine Leanne Christ (University of South Australia Business School, Adelaide, Australia)
Roger Burritt (Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia)
Mohsen Varsei (Australian Institute of Business, Adelaide, Australia)

Sustainability Accounting, Management and Policy Journal

ISSN: 2040-8021

Article publication date: 5 September 2016




Environmental Management Accounting (EMA) information has become synonymous with win-win decision settings, but this paper aims to consider how EMA support can be extended to company managers who face the dynamics of win-wins and trade-offs.


Based on extant literature, the paper suggests an important extension of the use of EMA in support of management decision-making. The need for extended consideration and use of EMA to help overcome trade-offs is illustrated using the case of a wine bottling plant location decision by an Australian company in a global supply chain transporting wine from Australia to North America and Europe.


Results confirm the need to add to the broader use of EMA to assist managers attempting to solve real world trade-off problems between economic performance, carbon equivalent emissions reduction and water risk reduction.

Research limitations/implications

Generalisation of the single wine company case illustration to other companies and similar industry settings remains to be investigated.

Practical implications

Trade-offs are considered between economic benefit and two environmental performance matters of concern to the company, carbon equivalent emissions reduction and water risk reduction.


The paper introduces the notion of extending the use of EMA as a pragmatic way for managers to assess trade-off situations with environmental alternatives where no optimal solution is available. Value is added through the real case study of an Australian wine company.



The authors would like to thank the participants of the 18th EMAN Europe Conference held in San Sebastian, Spain in March 2015, and from the 2015 A-CSEAR conference held in Sydney in December 2015, for their very helpful comments on earlier drafts of this paper.


Christ, K.L., Burritt, R. and Varsei, M. (2016), "Towards environmental management accounting for trade-offs", Sustainability Accounting, Management and Policy Journal, Vol. 7 No. 3, pp. 428-448.



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