How to Write a Clear Environmental Policy for Your Company
Adopting green practices may not be on your list of priorities as a small and medium-sized company. However, you should bear in mind that many customers today view environmentally-conscious companies as the most trustworthy. Moreover, in Britain, as you need to be compliant with certain legal and environmental requirements, making an environmental policy is imperative.
So, who is responsible for establishing environmental policies? Typically it is founding or senior management. However, as the company’s Health, Safety and Environmental Officer, this task will need your involvement.
What is an environmental policy?
Environmental policies are guides that set out a company’s objectives and strategies for reducing any pollution and waste it produces. When creating your own policy, you should include timelines and measurement checks to ensure the policy goes to plan.
Start by conducting a risk assessment. This will help you to determine how your business affects the
environment and gauge the impact of its operations. When conducting an environmental review:
● Determine the current environmental circumstances
● List ways your company can make improvements
● Propose an action plan
Ensure that the report at least complies with the legal requirements that apply to your industry. If your
company is currently practicing sound environmental policies be sure to point them out.
Benefits to your company
Creating an environmental policy could prove beneficial to your company both in the short and long term. Having one can help your organisation:
● Check if daily operations conform to environmental and legal requirements
● Inform employees of their responsibility for keeping your workplace environmentally-friendly
● Reduce consumption whilst keeping operational costs goes down
● Improve efficiency and productivity
Furthermore, adhering to your environmental sound policies can help your company stand out among your competitors and even attract new clients.
There are no set rules for writing an environmental policy, but most follow the same structure. When writing one, keep in mind that these policies are a personal commitment of the company. So focus on listing strategies and objectives that apply to your company’s main economic activity, concerns and priorities.
Think about how your company and its operation affect the environment and what kinds of risks are involved. If your company is part of a supply chain, try to obtain similar policies from your major customers. However, make sure that your company’s statement doesn’t conflict with your requirements.
In general, ensure that your policy:
● Is easy to understand
● Clearly points out your company’s aims and objectives
● Is short – it should fit on a single page
The policy should set realistic goals that you can measure. Also, it is important to produce a timeline and assign respective duties to each staff.
How to create an environmental policy
Firstly, create an outline that includes:
● Your company’s mission and overview of its activity
● Assurance that will address improvements and monitor your environmental efforts
● Checking the environmental impact of your company’s operation
● Complying with current environmental laws
● Expecting company suppliers and subcontractors to adhere to the same environmental policy
● Raising employee awareness and training
Some of the environmental issues you could address include:
● Selecting suppliers that are also environmentally conscious
● Utility consumption eg, electricity and water
● Proper disposal and recycling of waste
● Use of raw materials and supplies
The benefits of hiring a Health, Safety & Environment Manager
This person will become a valuable member of your team, helping your company to develop a suitable environmental strategy and policy with responsibilities for:
● Taking charge of purchasing of environmentally-friendly goods or services
● Helping to coordinate your company’s drive to controlling pollution, managing or recycling
waste and other conservation efforts
● Ensuring that your company is compliant and up-to-date with applicable national and local laws
● Building relationships with local authorities and other environmental regulatory boards
● Training staff on environmental issues and responsibility
● Conducting public relation campaigns with the local community
For more information and for help on finding a suitable Health, Safety and Environment Manager for your company, visit this site.
An environmental policy example
The following is a template you may wish to use:
Mission Statement[Business name] is a small accounting firm, operating in [name of place]. We recognize that our operations result in the generation of waste and therefore our company is committed to reducing its environmental impact and improve its service. We pledge to regularly review our strategy and operations and also encourage our customers, suppliers and other related parties to follow our commitment.
This policy applies to company personnel including management. [Name of person and title] is responsible for this policy’s implementation. All staff members, however, are responsible for contributing to the realization of the aims and objectives of this policy.
Our company aims to comply with environmental laws and requirements, reduce environmental impacts, and operate in an environmentally responsible manner. This policy describes how the company can achieve these aims.
● To minimize the use of paper in the office and recycle them if possible
● Turn off lights, electrical equipment and water taps when not in use
● Adjust the heating with saving energy in mind
● Prioritize the purchasing of energy-efficient equipment wherever possible
● Only buy products that are environmentally friendly and efficient
● Reuse and recycle supplies if possible
● Reduce the need to travel by promoting alternatives such as e-mails or video
● If possible, use public transport, bicycle or ‘green’ vehicles.
● Only hire duly licensed and suitable waste disposal contractors
Monitoring / Improvement
● The company will conduct monthly meetings to monitor progress
● Ensure that our current policy complies or even exceeds legal requirements
● Incorporate suitable green practices in the company’s decision making
● The company will involve all employees in the policy’s implementation
● Consult staff and other concerned parties in the annual policy update
● Staff will receive relevant environmental training
● Communicate and work with suppliers and contractors and help raise their environmental
● Commit to using local materials and hire local labor, if applicable, to reduce carbon
emissions whilst helping the community
There are several advantages of becoming a green company, including cost saving, raising productivity and gaining competitive advantages. You can also spread the word and encourage others to be environmentally-conscious by requiring your suppliers and contractors to adopt similar environmental standards. What’s more, promoting your commitment to implementing green ideas could result in more work opportunities.
Simon Bliss is the head of Principal People, a market leader in recruitment consultancy specializing in Health, Safety, and Environment positions for various industries including Construction, Logistics, Manufacturing, Services and others. He is also the Chief Operating Officer of the Juhler Group of Companies, which operates in 40 locations across Europe and Asia.