What does it need to do?
It needs to recognise all of your business impacts on the environment, both through local operations and in terms of its use of energy and raw materials, and its waste.
And then it should set out realistic and achievable targets for improvement.
A really good environmental policy requires careful planning and thought; it should never be something that’s generic or done just to ‘tick a box.’ In both the style and content, the policy needs to be carefully tailored to your business, reflecting its culture, its concerns and its commitments. By all means, take inspiration from your competitors, but don’t be tempted to copy.
Make sure you…
• Keep it short, easy to read and easy to understand- and make sure your employees read it!
• Keep it realistic, achievable and relevant. Post it on your website.
• Demonstrate management commitment by getting the statement signed, dated and endorsed by the people at the top.
Your statement should include the following:
Mission: A statement on your business’ environmental aims and objectives, authorized at the highest level of management and written in collaboration with staff. This mission should be communicated across the company as well as to customers, investors and other stakeholders.
Review: Brainstorm everything your business does, and how its operations might impact the environment (both now and in the future).
Strategy: Set out how you will manage all your business’ environmental impacts by reducing waste, pollution and emissions as well as cutting down on the use of raw materials, energy and supplies. Make sure you lay out specific, realistic and time-sensitive objectives, where results can be monitored and measured against set targets.
Specifics: You could include specifics about your business’ policy on recycling, transportation and its use of energy and resources. Why not consider educating and training your employees in environmental issues, making them more aware of the effects of their activities?
Third-Party Responsibility: What does your business expect of external parties, i.e. suppliers and contractors? You’ll need to get hold of the environmental policy of those with whom you have particularly strong links to ensure your aims are compatible with theirs.
Compliance: Acknowledge that you’ll meet all relevant environmental legislation and other requirements, like approved codes of practice
It’s vital that you keep your policy up-to-date and assess its implementation regularly (i.e. in 6 months initially, and then annually) in order to continually improve your environmental performance. It’s a good to involve employees in this process as much as possible.
Some businesses choose to integrate their environmental policy with policies on other issues like health and safety, quality management, CSR or sustainability, and this is a useful means of identifying the overlap. Ultimately, having a strong environmental policy is bound up with being ethical and responsible, and investing within the wider community.