There's lots of government legislation in place to ensure that UK businesses meet the minimum standards required to minimise their impact on the environment. How these regulations will affect you will depend on the size and type of your business, as well as the sector you operate in and the process you have in place. UK environmental regulations focus on a number of key areas:
- Air - related to the amount of smoke, dust, noise, odour and solvents emitted by your business.
- Hazardous substances - regulations cover the collection, storage, handling, processing, use and disposal of various substances including: oil, ozone depleting substances, pesticides and biocides, radioactive substances, animal by-products and hazardous/special waste.
- Waste - regulating the handling, storage, transport and disposal of trade waste, as well as the recycling of products.
- Water - pollution, water abstraction and the discharge of trade effluent to public sewers.
- Packaging - covering the production, use and handling of packaging or packaging materials.
- Land - regulations cover the usage of contaminated land and landfill sites for disposal of business waste.
For more detailed information on how these regulations might affect your business, please visit https://www.gov.uk/browse/business/waste-environment/environmental-regulations
Environmental Management Systems
An Environmental Management System is framework to help businesses manage their impact on the environment and comply with Government legislation. Having an EMS can not only help you to reduce your environmental impact but it can also achieve cost saving and demonstrate your commitment to improving your performance to clients.
You can set up your own EMS as an internal management tool. Alternatively, there are recognised national and international standards that provide accreditation and external recognition of the standards achieved. EMS standards recommended by Defra include:
- ISO 14001
- BS 8555
To fully contribute to an improved environmental performance, a good EMS should:
- Be implemented at a strategic level and integrated into corporate policy and plans.
- Identify the organisation's impact on the environment and set clear objectives and targets to improve their performance
- Be designed to deliver and manage compliance with environmental laws and regulations
- Incorporate assured performance metrics that demonstrate all of the above.