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Environmental Management – Why Bother?

If you run a small business or other type of small organisation, your time is precious. Simply doing the basics can be a big enough challenge from day-to-day. Thinking about managing your environmental impacts may feel like a tall order but here’s five reasons why it’s a very smart business move.

1. Increase the markets or funding you can access

In many countries across the world, Government and other public sector bodies will require their contractors, suppliers and funding recipients to demonstrate environmental management in some way. This could be through having an environmental policy or environmental management system.

Many private companies also now expect their suppliers to adopt environmentally-friendly practices and may want evidence to demonstrate this.

Similarly, grant-making bodies may require some form of environmental management as part of their criteria for awarding funding.

Getting a simple system in place to manage your environmental impacts can help to ensure that your well-placed to access new opportunities.

2. Save money

Your business can save money by understanding and managing better how you use and dispose of energy, water and other resources, whether that be raw materials, stationery, office equipment, food & drink or the cleaning materials for your premises.

A UK Government study found that certified environmental management systems delivered cost savings for the majority of small businesses. With cost savings alone, the payback period for the costs of setting up an environmental management system was a mere 3 months! That was for the costs of meeting the full International Standard for an environmental management system (ISO 14001), which is far more costly than simpler alternatives like Green Small Business.

“Each time we tried to do the right thing for the environment, regardless of the cost to us, we ended up saving money” (Yvon Chouinard, founder of Patagonia)

3. Enhance your reputation

With environmental awareness ever on the rise, demonstrating your commitment to the environment will enhance your reputation among your clients, customers and potential customers. And it pays. The UK Government study referred to above found that two thirds of small businesses had either achieved new sales or were expecting to do so as a result of getting their environmental management system in place.

4. Help ensure your company complies with environmental laws and regulation

If your business is affected by environmental laws and regulation, you are probably well aware of the requirements they place on you already. Making sure you comply with them is no doubt of great importance to you. An environmental management system can provide a systematic way of ensuring that you regularly review these legal and regulatory requirements and make any changes to your business practices that might be required.

5. Look after the planet!

For many, this is the most important reason of all. We only have one planet and we don’t always do a great job in looking after it. Having an environmental management system helps to ensure that your business takes account of all of its significant impacts on the environment. And they can make a difference! A successful environmental management system can reduce resource use, energy use and waste.

For example, in the UK Government study referred to earlier, small businesses achieved an average saving in carbon dioxide (the main cause of climate change) of 38.9 tonnes per £m turnover as a result of their EMS. To give you an idea of how amazing that is, one tonne of carbon dioxide is emitted when you burn roughly 320 litres of diesel.

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