One of the first things that needs to be undertaken by the top management of an organization, is the drawing up of an environmental policy. This outlines the objectives and intentions of the the company in relation to the impact placed on the environment by processes and procedures undertaken by the organization. Because this is a defining guideline for each employee of what their role is in the process and the impact of their job on the environment, it needs to come from top management. The policy needs to outline how the company is going to combat and reduce its impact on the environment and define what the impact is at present.
In order to meet ISO 14001 requirements, the policy needs to incorporate some key aspects. When writing up the policy, it needs to be remembered what is appropriate for the organization and its operations. The policy needs to be directed at areas where your business impact the environment.
One of the primary functions of an environmental management policy is to identify the processes within your company and decide how they can be improved on. Your policy needs to state that you and your company are committed to continual development and improvement in how your operations affect the environment. In the policy you don’t need to state how this will be done, simply that you are committed to achieving it.
Part of the policy needs to be dedicated to the prevention of pollution. You don’t need to document how you are going to achieve this, just make the commitment.
The policy has to comply with legal obligations and other requirements related to environmental aspects. Environmental aspects refer to the way your company interacts with the environment and the impact it has thereon. You need to commit to and agree to abide and conform to any laws and regulations that relate to this.
The framework for objectives and goals or targets is where the policy becomes a little more detailed and involved. You need to devise and set up plans to achieve targets which relate to the improvement of your impact on the environment. Remember not to include anything in your policy that cannot be acted upon in your improvement plans.
Your environmental policy is one of the items in environmental management system that has to be a written document. This cannot be a word of mouth “document”. These plans need to be implemented and incorporated into your operations. There have to be plans in place and resources available to enable you to make your commitments a reality. This part of your plan will continually be in need of review and change. Your company processes and environmental impact will be ever-changing.
Your employees are key in the undertaking of any part of the policy. They are the task force who will carry out the “hard labor” as a matter of speaking. They need to understand the company policy and be clear on what impact their job has on the overall environmental impact of the company. The employees need to know what is expected and required from them in order to achieve the company goals as set out in the policy. The employees need to understand too, how the impact of the organizations process on the environment, impact on them personally as well.
This environmental policy and management system has to be made readily available for anybody who wishes to view it. They don’t necessarily need to be part of the company, the general public need to granted access if required. This is not a bad aspect as it can be used as a publicity tool for your organization. People want to know that big companies do care about more than their profits and that health and well-being of the public and the environment are important to them. Proving this will only strengthen their position in the public’s perceptions of them.
It is imperative to remember that the policy must be appropriate for the operations of your company and how your processes impact the environment. There is no use making statements about chemical waste, when you have none.
Make your policy as simple as possible so that it is clear and easily understood. Make your commitments and statements meaningful. Your policy should allow your employees and the public to understand with ease what your company intends on doing to reduce their carbon footprint and improving their environmental impact. A policy does not need to be involved and full of difficult to understand jargon in order for it to be viable. Say what you mean in as plain and simple terms as possible. Leave no room for misunderstanding. Make your plight known to all.
An environmental policy is the basis on which your environmental management system is built and operates. You need to have clear objectives and plans in order to implement processes and procedures that compliment your intentions. Your employees are key to the success of this process, in every way. They need to feel comfortable about the expectations placed on them and understand, with clarity, every aspect of the policy. A policy that is understood, will be implemented with success. Documented results and achievements will create motivation and inspiration and a unity in the pursuit of a common goal.
Yes, management draws up the policy, but they should always take into consideration the perspective of the employees and see it from their viewpoint as well. The employees are after all the worker bees, and they will also be accountable for their actions. Any employee will be proud to be part of something of this magnitude. Protecting the environment for their future generations to enjoy.
Formulate your policy with care and thought. Don’t commit to anything you can’t adhere to. Remember the policy will be amended and changed regularly as your environmental impact changes, so there is always room to include different plans and commitments at a later stage.