Why Environmental Management?
DNV Quality Assurance Limited note that ‘Modern businesses continuously operate in very competitive markets in which the population is increasingly aware of wider social issues, such as the environment and its protection. There is an ever increasing requirement placed upon industry (and services) to be able to demonstrate environmental responsibility to stakeholders (customers, legislators, employees, shareholders, investors and pressure groups). This pressure has been the cause of an upsurge in environmentally related legislation world-wide. The consequences of environmental accidents are becoming ever more costly. These costs can be both real and hidden, not only in terms of the fines incurred, or even the clean-up costs, but in the adverse publicity which often follows.
Effective environmental management can reduce your organisation’s impact on the environment, improve operational efficiency, identify opportunities for cost saving and reduce environmental liability’.
What are the benefits of an environmental management system?
‘The benefits of an Environmental Management System can include:
Environmental Legislation is increasing world-wide. This will become more stringent and already covers emissions to air, liquid effluent, solid waste, dust emissions, noise, storage and other similar areas. A proactive approach reduces the risk of fines or imprisonment and can provide a competitive advantage.
- Cost savings
Good environmental management can pinpoint opportunities for cost savings. Energy efficiency and waste minimisation are just two aspects of environmental management, which can quickly improve profitability.
- Customer requirements
Businesses are becoming increasingly concerned about environmental management – they will not want to risk reputations or inherit liabilities as a result of poor environmental performance by their suppliers. Can any business afford to lose customers by ignoring environmental management?
- Investment & Insurance
Investment will become increasingly difficult to secure, as investors become more concerned about risk due to poor environmental performance. Insurance companies are fully aware of the risks involved with poor environmental performance. As a direct result of this, insurance premiums are increasing and in some cases an environmental audit is required before cover will be provided.
- Market Opportunities
Good environmental performance can be a key factor in market profiling of an organisation and gives a competitive edge – especially with younger generations that are even more aware of environmental issues.
- Corporate Image
A good environmental record can improve corporate image and create better relations with shareholders, employees, pressure groups and the media. Bad publicity about environmental performance can be very damaging’.
How do I write an environmental policy?
Business in the Community have set out principles for writing an environmental policy, these are as follows:
‘Our business will…..
- Adopt and aim to apply the principles of “sustainable development” – that is, development which meets the needs of the present, without compromising the abilities of future generations to meet their own needs
- Seek to improve its environmental performance continuously
- Foster the commitment of all management and staff to improving the environmental performance of business
- Strive to adopt the highest available environmental standards in all countries of operation
- Adopt a total “cradle-to-grave” assessment and responsibility of our products and services
- Aim to minimise the use of all materials, supplies and energy. Wherever possible we will use renewable or recyclable materials and components
- Minimise pollution produced in all parts of the business, and aim for “pollution-free” processes
- Adopt an environmentally sound transport strategy
- Assess the environmental impact of all our operations past, current and future
- Expect similar environmental standards to our own from all third parties involved with our business – suppliers, vendors, contractors
- Assist our customers to use our products and services in an environmentally sensitive way
- Liaise on a continuous basis with the local community
- Include environmental consideration in investment decisions
- Assist in developing economically – viable solutions to environmental problems in our industry’.
How can a company best publicise its environmental impacts or activities to its stakeholders?
An environmentally friendly company can adopt a variety of different mediums to let stakeholders from customers to general interested parties know about how it responsibly manages its environmental impacts. A few examples include:
- Produce an annual Environmental Statement to summarise environmental achievements in terms of reduction in resource usage (paper, electricity, water, packaging etc). This could be combined with any annual statistics or accounts. You can make this available by sending hard copies to key stakeholders or via your company website.
- Update your company website with information on environmental achievements. You could use a variety of different mediums, such as bar graphs or pie charts, pictures of your upgraded site etc. Graphical display is suggested for illustration purposes.
- Participating in Environmental Business Award schemes with Local Authorities or other business support organisations are always a good source to publicise your company’s green image and can gain wider publicity.
- Attaching information about your company’s environmental policy and initiatives to invoices and purchase ledgers – could be a useful tool to reach a larger group of stakeholders.
- Displaying environmental policy and achievements in the main office reception area will definitely catch the attention of customers and stakeholders. This can be quite a strong medium of communication as well.
- Gaining EMS accreditation (ISO14001, EMS or BS 8555) will help to demonstrate best practise. If accredited ensure that, the official logo of the standard is added to company letterhead and emails, product packaging and on company transport distribution system.
- Getting involved in widely publicised environmental schemes, such as Travelwise or Local Community initiatives (e.g. with schools or parks). Could also be a medium for publicising your green initiatives.