|Having a publicly available environmental policy is a great way to demonstrate your organisation’s commitment to playing your part in protecting our planet’s most valuable resources.
You might think that because you work out of an office or retail unit that environmental legislation doesn’t apply to you but that might not be the case. For example, businesses have a Duty of Care when disposing of their waste. Employers need to designate different storage areas for each type of waste such as plastics, cardboard, glass, cans and food waste and make sure those removing waste from your premises are authorized to do so.
And on top of any legal requirements, the benefits (should all other factors be equal) of a clear, well communicated policy could make the difference between winning an order or losing out to a competitor who has a readily available, easy to read, green policy already in place.
Anyway, let’s start at the beginning – what actually is an environmental policy? Put simply, it is a written statement of intent concerning the commitments your organisation is making to reduce the environmental impact of its operations. This policy can form part of an overall environmental management system or stand-alone. It should be a simple, one page A4, jargon-free document.
You might like to consider these useful tips when creating your own environmental policy:
• Appoint a senior individual to head up a team of ambassadors charged with preparing an overall environmental action plan, they can look at sample policies online such as those on the EnvironmentalPolicy.org.uk website
The environmental policy team should include in their action plan: A brief description of your organisation’s activities
• A framework for setting and reviewing environmental objectives and targets
Whilst an organisation’s environmental policy should be tailor-made to ensure all applicable laws for its industry/sector are adhered to Zero Waste Scotland offers some great examples of what the finished document might look like. Commitments generally could include: Reducing waste and improving resource efficiency
• Involving employees and providing any necessary on-going training
Once you’ve created your first environmental policy it’s important that it comes to life and that it is understood, acknowledged and adopted throughout your organisation. Three easy ways to maintain momentum and publicise your commitments are:
• Encourage internal ‘green’ champions and invite all staff to identify ways that they can become ‘money saving experts’ by switching off equipment when not in use, recycling drinks cans or cycling to work instead of driving when possible. Printed mousemats could list a Top 10 ways to save money & be green-er and serve as a permanent reminder to your team.
Whilst it will undoubtedly take a little time and effort to initiate your first environmental policy – once in place the rewards in terms of customer attraction and retention, motivated employees and committed investors and suppliers can only assist in the future success of the business.