Managing environmental performance
Running a business, whatever the size or type of your business, costs money and can impact on the environment. But you can take practical steps to manage your environmental performance and save money. The principles of sustainable development can be achieved in a way that enhances your business performance.
Use an environmental management system
Your business can reduce its environmental impact by using an environmental management system (EMS). An EMS helps you to identify your impacts and then manage your activities, for example the energy or water you use or the waste you produce. This can help you to improve your environmental performance.
Your EMS should be appropriate to the type and size of your office activities.
For more information about how an EMS can help your office see our EMS guidance.
You can use the Environmental management toolkit to help manage your environmental impacts.
The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has produced a Sustainable Manufacturing Toolkit for use by businesses in the manufacturing sector.
Report on your environmental performance
Your business can benefit from improving, and reporting on, its environmental performance. For example reporting will:
- give you information about your current performance, and whether you are complying with legislation
- identify where you could improve your activities and use resources more efficiently saving you money
- involve your staff and help increase their environmental awareness
- demonstrate your commitment to improving your environmental performance to your staff, customers and the public.
You should focus on how you manage your key environmental impacts, for example energy use and waste and document the progress you are making to minimise your impact.
To find out how you can measure and report on your business' environmental performance see:
- Defra: Guidance on environmental reporting
- Global Reporting Initiative: Small, Smart and Sustainable
Manage your purchases
You will buy a variety of goods and services as an office business, from paper to computers to catering and cleaning services.
You can reduce the environmental impact of the goods and services you purchase and could reduce your costs by following green or sustainable procurement principles.
Consider the environmental impacts during the full life cycle of a product or service when buying, including:
- what raw materials are used to manufacture the product or provide the service
- how the product is produced and the energy used
- how the product or service will perform in use, eg will it use energy, water, produce waste
- how much it will cost to dispose of the product and the environmental impacts of disposal
- the potential for reuse or recycling the product
- the environmental performance of your suppliers.
Before buying any goods, consider first whether the product or service needs to be bought at all.
Making Green Claims
The UK government has published guidance for businesses. You should read before making any claims about environmental benefits from your goods or services.
Communicate with your staff
Encourage all your office staff to work together to improve your environmental performance. The day-to-day actions of your staff can significantly reduce your environmental impact. Ask someone to volunteer at your office as the environmental champion.
Engage with senior management to gain their support for environmental policies.
Raise awareness among staff about your policies and update them regularly on your progress and what you've achieved.
You can use the NetRegs e-learning tools to get a good overview of key issues. These tools are free to use and cover the essential points of each topic. They might be useful as a refresher course, or to make sure that staff have a good understanding of their environmental responsibilities.
- Preventing pollution – a general guide
- Duty of care
- Sinks, drains and sewers
- Generating renewable energy
All are available at: NetRegs: e-learning tools:
Prepare for the circular economy
Read our guide to the circular economy, with links to organisations and sources of information that will help develop a more circular approach to your business activities.
BSI has created a free briefing on the BS 8001:2017 standard. This aims to help businesses take steps to develop a more circular approach to their activities.
You can get help to develop a more circular approach to your business activities from a number of business support organisations. This can be in the form of advice and training as well as funding opportunities.
In Northern Ireland see our page: Business support organisations - Northern Ireland
In Scotland see our page: Business support organisations - Scotland