Company experience is that environmental constraints are throttling business progress. Pressures from legislation, insurance, finance and stakeholders, who all demand evidence of environmental excellence, are ever increasing. At the same time, the economic system is driving business in a predominantly unsustainable direction. In view of this dilemma, the need for a practical methodology enabling the full implementation of sustainable development into business cannot be overstated. Central to all this is a clear definition of what sustainable development means for industry in practice; how sustainable processing can be applied from first principles and the adoption of total sustainability as the ultimate goal. This paper aims to clarify the important issues involved in practical sustainable development and to assemble the elements of a practical methodology or toolkit, for the attainment of total sustainability in business. © 2004 John Wiley and Sons, Ltd and ERP Environment.