An environmental policy is an important top-line statement of an organisation’s environmental aims and objectives.
Many businesses don’t yet have an environmental policy but it is an increasingly common expectation, and is often a requirement; for example when businesses are tendering for public sector contracts. For businesses of any size, and working in any sector; drawing up an environmental policy is a great way to assess operations, check they are in line with current regulations and clearly state areas for continual improvement.
A policy is normally no more than one or two pages long, has been signed and approved at director level, and is made available to all employees and to the public – normally via the organisation’s intranet, website and clearly displayed in a reception area.
A policy helps to keep employees informed of their environmental roles and responsibilities, can lead to cost savings through reduced consumption and reduced waste, and helps save even more money by identifying scope for improving efficiency of your processes.
Many businesses and organisations in the West of England have great environmental policies, here are a few examples:
There are some great tools online to help you write your environmental policy, for instance here is a simple guide to Writing Your First Environmental Policy which includes a template to help get you started.
Environmental Management Systems
An Environmental Management System (EMS) requires you to identify the specific means by which you aim to achieve your environmental policy. You must formulate a plan for what you will do to make sure you abide by the policy and set up ways to measure, review and amend it. The Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) has a Management Toolkit for Small and Medium Sized Businesses that you can download. Here is guidance on the pollution prevention regulations in England which can help you choose what needs to be prioritized in your EMS. Also, the following website might be useful when it comes to creating an EMS. Environmental Management Systems – Your A-Z Guide?
Beyond internal operations, demonstrating a commitment to managing your environmental impact can help improve your reputation with existing clients and other stakeholders. You never know, in an ever more challenging financial climate, your environmental credentials could be the difference between winning work with a new client, or not.