Making your business environmentally friendly

Using sustainable resources and employing proper recycling and waste reduction measures can not only have a positive effect on the environment, but can also improve your profitability and reputation with customers.

Conduct an environmental audit

An environmental audit highlights how your business affects the environment and sets a benchmark for improvement. It’s useful for finding the areas of your business that impact the most on the environment. Checking how effectively your business acts in accordance with environmental regulations can help you manage business risk.

An environmental audit can help you:

  • assess the nature and extent of harm to the environment caused by the activities, waste or noise of your business
  • assess how you can manage or improve the condition of the environment
  • prioritise what actions you can take to reduce your impact on the environment
  • demonstrate accountability to third parties such as government, customers and shareholders.

Environmental audits must be independent, objective, credible and transparent in order to be successful. Audits should be regular and ongoing, conducted against a benchmark or initial assessment and detailed in your environmental plan.

Consider setting up an Environmental Management System

What is an Environmental Management System?

An Environmental Management System (EMS) is a tool that you can set in place in your business to manage your current and future environmental impact. You can also use an EMS in conjunction with your environmental audit to introduce processes and procedures that will assist your environmental strategies.

An EMS integrates environmental management into your business' daily operations, long term planning and other quality management systems. You can develop a simple plan for managing your EMS, or a more comprehensive one for certification under the international standard ISO 14001.

Why have an Environmental Management System?

Your EMS can support your environmental management plan. Your business can benefit from implementing an EMS by improving your use of resources. It can make licences and permits easier to obtain and help you meet your environmental goals.

What to include in an EMS?

Things to cover in your EMS include:

  • identifying the environmental impacts of your business
  • setting your environmental objectives and targets, in line with your business plan goals
  • outlining your operational and emergency procedures related to environmental matters
  • the responsibilities and reporting structure
  • areas that you’ve identified for ongoing improvement.

Having your Environmental Management System accredited

The ISO 14001 standard sets out the requirements for a certified EMS. If you want your EMS to be accredited, consider the following:

  • Do your customers think having a certified EMS is important?
  • Do your competitors have a certified EMS?
  • Have your competitors benefited from EMS certification?
  • How much time will you put aside to set up your EMS to benefit from certification?

Regularly assess and report on your environment management efforts

Monitoring and reporting your impacts on the environment, including greenhouse gas emissions and energy use, can help you:

  • identify areas of your business that are producing the most waste and emissions
  • create an environmental management plan focused on reducing the environmental impacts of your business
  • comply with mandatory reporting requirements
  • present information on your environmental performance to the public in a transparent and accountable way, such as your website.

For most businesses, environmental reporting is voluntary, but there are some mandatory industry reporting requirements that may apply to your business. Read Environmental Reporting to find out more.

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