Writing Your First Environmental Policy
In a previous article, we’ve discussed the merits of having an Environmental Policy and taking those first steps towards being a green business. So you can strike whilst the iron’s hot, we’ve put together a template Environmental Policy to help you get started.
Before implementing the Policy, it’s important to ensure it is approved by management to ensure buy-in for the company’s new-found green ambitions. It’s also worth showing a draft of the policy to your staff, as they may have some great business-relevant ideas to include. Whilst a template can help you get off the blocks, there could be numerous industry specific issues that would make good inclusions.
The template below is designed to be free of industry bias. As mentioned, there may be some tweaks or inclusions (or deletions!) you wish to do in order to make the policy more relevant to your business. The end result should be a policy that is both easy to understand and clearly states the organisation’s aims and objectives, similar to a Mission Statement. It needn’t be longer than a single page.
Environmental Policy Template
Last Reviewed : DD/MM/ YY
Next Review : DD/MM/ YY
Mission Statement[Organisation] recognises that it has a responsibility to the environment beyond legal and regulatory requirements. We are committed to reducing our environmental impact and continually improving our environmental performance as an integral part of our business strategy and operating methods, with regular review points. We will encourage customers, suppliers and other stakeholders to do the same.
Responsibility[Name and Title] is responsible for ensuring that the environmental policy is implemented. However, all employees have a responsibility in their area to ensure that the aims and objectives of the policy are met.
We endeavour to:
- Comply with and exceed all relevant regulatory requirements.
- Continually improve and monitor environmental performance.
- Continually improve and reduce environmental impacts.
- Incorporate environmental factors into business decisions.
- Increase employee awareness and training.
- We will minimise the use of paper in the office.
- We will reduce packaging as much as possible.
- We will seek to buy recycled and recyclable paper products.
- We will reuse and recycle all paper where possible.
Energy and Water
- We will seek to reduce the amount of energy used as much as possible.
- Lights and electrical equipment will be switched off when not in use.
- Heating will be adjusted with energy consumption in mind.
- The energy consumption and efficiency of new products will be taken into account when purchasing.
- We will evaluate if the need can be met in another way.
- We will evaluate if renting/sharing is an option before purchasing equipment.
- We will evaluate the environmental impact of any new products we intend to purchase.
- We will favour more environmentally friendly and efficient products wherever possible.
- We will reuse and recycle everything we are able to.
- We will reduce the need to travel, restricting to necessity trips only.
- We will promote the use of travel alternatives such as e-mail or video/phone conferencing.
- We will make additional efforts to accommodate the needs of those using public transport or bicycles.
- We will favour ‘green’ vehicles and maintain them rigorously to ensure ongoing efficiency.
Maintenance and Cleaning
- Cleaning materials used will be as environmentally friendly as possible.
- Materials used in office refurbishment will be as environmentally friendly as possible.
- We will only use licensed and appropriate organisations to dispose of waste.
Monitoring and Improvement
- We will comply with and exceed all relevant regulatory requirements.
- We will continually improve and monitor environmental performance.
- We will continually improve and reduce environmental impacts.
- We will incorporate environmental factors into business decisions.
- We will increase employee awareness through training.
- We will review this policy and any related business issues at our monthly management meetings.
- We will involve staff in the implementation of this policy, for greater commitment and improved performance.
- We will update this policy at least once annually in consultation with staff and other stakeholders where necessary.
- We will provide staff with relevant environmental training.
- We will work with suppliers, contractors and sub-contractors to improve their environmental performance.
- We will use local labour and materials where available to reduce CO2 and help the community.
If you require guidance on environmental regulations for your business, use the Environment Agency website for the most up-to-date information.
A tip for any organisation keen to become part of a supply chain is to try to obtain policies from key customers so your own can reflect their requirements.
Once you feel your Environmental Policy is complete, it is imperative to have time-related, achievable and accountable targets with deadlines. An Action Plan will help to ensure that the policy is effective and doesn’t become ‘another piece of paperwork.’
All organisations have suppliers, and if you are a major client, you have the weight to encourage suppliers to implement an Environmental Policy of their own. You could build this into your policy’s targets, thereby demonstrating that you are looking beyond simply your organisation’s direct environmental impact.
If you’re taking these positive steps to become green, shout about it! You could integrate your green message into marketing materials, encouraging customers to adopt a similar ethos. By communicating your aims and objectives, it may even bring your organisation more work.