For big businesses, complying with environmental law is a given. It’s not optional, and you’ll need to demonstrate that your business is fully compliant with rules and regulations that are designed to protect the planet. Failing to do so could result in criminal prosecution, fines, clean-up costs, stop notices or even the closure of your business. And, that’s just the direct consequences of poor environmental health and safety (EHS) management: secondary effects include negative publicity, a damaged reputation, loss of new clients and business, or even reduced share values.
It all sounds very intimidating, and isn’t something to be taken lightly. However, while it’s a complicated minefield for businesses to navigate through, the good news is that there are lots of ways you can make your business greener – and it isn’t as hard as you might think…
First, appoint EHS managers. EHS managers are very highly skilled people (often with a strong background in science) who can put their technical knowledge to good use alongside their management skills. You could appoint an EHS manager to draft and enforce a ‘green’ policy for your business, as well as asking them to oversee the acquisition and implementation of the kind of EHS management software tools available from providers such as airsweb. They’ll also need to keep abreast of environmental, health and safety legislation too and ensure that your business’s policy is compliant in every single way.
Second, take some time to understand the Environment Agency’s Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme (ESOS). The scheme was designed to implement the EU’s Energy Efficiency Directive (EED), ensuring that the Union’s target of reducing energy consumption by 20% by the year 2020 is met. The scheme is an energy assessment and savings scheme that applies to large businesses, and its thought that it will help to save businesses money as a direct result of energy savings. The deadline to join the scheme was December 2015, but you can submit a form to explain why you missed the deadline, detailing when you expect to be able to comply. Be proactive and get on board: qualifying organisations that have not completed and notified a compliance assessment by 5 December 2015 are in breach of the regulations and at risk of penalties and other action.
Similarly, ensure you’re familiar with the current regulations that are designed to reduce energy use and carbon emissions. These include the Climate Change Levy, Climate Change Agreements and the Carbon Reduction Commitment Energy Efficient Scheme. Your business might already face mandatory reporting on its energy usage, so consider appointing expert individuals to help you to comply with the current environmental laws, as well as the ones that are likely to be written in the future. It would also be a good idea to make these individuals responsible for generating reports relating to energy usage and emissions, as it’s likely that we’ll see a single reporting system for big businesses in line with ESOS in the future.
Finally, communicate the risks associated with not taking EHS seriously. This is essential for ensuring that every member of your business is working towards your environmental goals and helping you to comply with legislation. You could do this by creating formal pieces of training (as well as enforcing a day-to-day culture for taking responsibility for EHS), highlighting the effects of not adhering to EHS principles on your business and the planet. (As mentioned above there are serious consequences for non-compliance, including fines, compensation orders and stop notices). Training is also a great opportunity to promote the positive effects of being compliant with the rules surrounding the environment, and it’s also the perfect medium for explaining how doing so can result in savings and financial benefits to the company.