What is an environmental policy?
An environmental policy sets out your organisations commitments and aims in relation to managing your impacts on the environment. It provides a useful framework to guide objectives and targets to improve your environmental performance.
While there are no legal requirements around having an environmental policy, it is an effective way of demonstrating that your organisation has a clear intent to limit your environmental impacts.
Your environmental policy should be specific to your organisation and take into consideration its activities, setting out realistic and achievable commitments that can guide actions to reduce environmental impacts. While there is no standard format for environmental policies, the guidance below can help you to formulate one.
What are the benefits of having an environmental policy?
Having a clear environmental policy can have several internal benefits for an organisation, such as:
Complying with environmental legislation
Setting out a clear structure to monitor and reduce your environmental impacts
Helping to reduce wastage of both materials and energy
Clearly setting out the environmental roles of your employees
Additionally, it can also offer wider benefits:
Increasingly, organisations want their suppliers to meet certain environmental credentials and having an environmental policy can help to highlight your commitments and help with gaining contracts
Increasingly, the public expect organisations to be taking action on environmental issues and having an environmental policy shows them how you are doing this
Writing an environmental policy
Your environmental policy should contain:
Commitments to continually monitor and improve your environmental performance, setting targets and objectives to work towards.
Commitments to reduce you impact on the environment
Commitments to comply with relevant environmental legislation
You may also wish to include commitments that are relevant to your organisation, such as commitments on:
Reducing carbon emissions
Efficient energy use
Reducing the impact of transport
Raising awareness and offer training on environmental issues to employees
Working with suppliers and clients to achieve higher environmental standards
Where to start?
The best place to start is by outlining your organisation and the activities you undertake. This can then be followed by a general statement that sets out your environmental aims (the overall environmental target) and environmental objectives (the steps needed to reach the aim). These should be accompanied with brief details of how these will be achieved.
You can then use this to develop a more comprehensive environmental policy that can help to guide decision making and ensure that environmental issues are considered in all actions going forward.
Lots of organisations have environmental policies so while it’s important that your environmental policy is specific to you, it can be useful to have a look at how others are working to reach their commitments, for example, The WWF. Environmental Policy | WWF
The policy should be:
Concise- it is recommended that it is no longer that one side of A4
Signed by management to ensure your organisation is commitment to it
Reviewed annually and updated if appropriate
Realistic - setting unachievable targets can be demotivating
Communicated to all staff
Made available to the public to highlight your commitments
How to achieve the aims set out in your environmental policy?
To ensure that the commitments set out in your environmental policy are being worked towards, it is important to accompany the policy with an action plan. This will set out how you will achieve the commitments, outlining the actions that you will take to achieve each objective. For each objective, there may be several actions needed to achieve it.
This should also be accompanied with a realistic target that, where possible, is measurable and has a specific deadline. These targets should be monitored and updates regularly so it is important to assign each target to a member of staff who can ensure that these actions are being met.
Objective in environmental policy
Reduce CO2 emissions
Use 100% renewable energy
All electricity to come from renewable suppliers
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