What is an environmental policy?
What an environmental policy is and how to create one.
An environmental policy shows how a company deals with the impact of its operations on the environment. The policy sets out the environmental objectives, principles and targets of the company. This article will explore the benefits of having an environmental policy and tips on how to write an environmental policy and boost environmental performance.
What are the benefits of having an environmental policy?
There are many benefits to having an environmental policy, especially for startups looking to secure funding from investors. An environmental policy helps a company achieve its target as to the environmental impact of its operations and allows companies to prepare their environmental reports as part of their corporate reporting in line with relevant environmental legislation.
Additionally, investors and insurers use environmental policies as an indicator of how well a company is managed and the strength of its corporate social responsibility record. The environmental policy can also be a tool to achieve Certified Environmental Management Standards (EMS) such as ISO14001 and Eco-Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS).
By achieving a certified EMS, a company is showing that its environmental management system meets the international standards required for these certificates and their customers. Finally, having a publicly available environmental policy can create a better relationship with the communities the business engages with, in addition to boosting PR and sales benefits.
How to write an environmental policy?
Before writing an environmental policy, the environmental impact and environmental risks of the company must be assessed. Key factors to be assessed include the positive and negative environmental effects of the company's operations. It also includes the action steps the company has already taken to minimise the negative effects of its operations and maximise the positive effects and its sustainable development. If the company does not assess its environmental impact before drafting the policy then it cannot set objectives to achieve in the policy.
State the objectives
An environmental policy helps a company achieve its environmental objectives. Accordingly, the environmental policy should clearly state what the company's environmental objectives are, as well as its plans for continual improvement in environmental aspects.
Additionally, while drafting the policy the company must make sure that the environmental objectives do not conflict with the operations of the business as the policy would otherwise be impractical. Environmental objectives must be realistic and achievable and should be addressed to all levels of expertise in the business, including senior management. If the objectives in the policy are unrealistic or unachievable then the company will be negatively criticised for greenwashing.
Keep it clear, short and simple
The policy should use clear and simple language; otherwise, the objectives will be difficult to identify and achieve. Additionally, if the language is not clear and simple there is a significant risk of misinterpretation which can result in negative criticism and feedback. The policy should also be short and concise so that the policy is easily accessible and the objectives are easily identified.
The bottom line
In conclusion, having an environmental policy has many benefits such as helping the company achieve its environmental objectives and to achieve Certified Environmental Management standards. A good policy will state the environmental objectives without clashing with the company's operations. It will also be clear, short and simple.