The Importance of Environmental Management in Business
Did you know that one in every three customers now makes buying decisions based on a company’s social and environmental credentials?
The key takeaway is that if environmental management isn’t yet high on your list, now’s the time to add it.
Read on to help you understand your responsibilities and the impact on your business. Here, we’ll explain the importance of environmental management. We’ll also show you how to ensure your business uses best practices.
What Is Environmental Management for Business?
Sustainable practices are becoming a vital factor for businesses.
Consumers have higher expectations about the environmental impact of what they buy. They’ll take time to search out sustainable businesses before spending their dollars.
They want to buy from businesses that show responsibility for the environment. That includes an awareness of the increasing effects of climate change.
That’s true of investors, employees, and suppliers, too. They will want evidence that they are working with environmentally-friendly businesses.
They’ll want to see that a business actively reduces its carbon footprint. And they’ll want to know you choose renewable energy and handles waste management responsibly.
Today, all modern, competitive businesses have an essential environmental responsibility. That includes careful ecological planning, proper organization, and sustainable business practices.
Managing your environmental impact also means examining risks. That means implementing systems to manage those risks and ensuring you comply with legal regulations.
As a business, you’ll need to assign an owner for your environmental management. It could be the responsibility of one environmental manager or department. Or it could even be something you choose to outsource.
The Importance of Environmental Management for Business
Making environmental management central to your business model doesn’t come for free. It takes time, effort, and dedicated people to make it happen.
So is it worth it for your business? Let’s examine why it’s vital in 2023. Here are some benefits you can see as a company.
It Will Improve Your Public Image
A company with a poor environmental record risks ending up in the news for all the wrong reasons.
But managing your environmental responsibilities shows the world your commitment. That’s fantastic for your public image.
If you launch a new environmental initiative, you can even go as far as creating a formal PR campaign to help build your brand awareness.
It sets you apart from your competition, too. Hence, it’s one way your business can differentiate itself from the competition. You can make it a central feature on your website and within customer proposals.
It Will Reduce Your Operating Costs
Did you know that environmental management can help reduce operating costs for your business? For a start, you can reduce expenditure on things like energy and water by managing consumption and lowering your monthly bills.
You can help manage operating costs by reducing waste and promoting recycling in your organization. Simple, small changes can have a significant impact. For example, you can limit printed material to cut costs and reduce paper waste.
Another way to cut costs is by adopting government initiatives that incentivize businesses, such as tax breaks. Look for details in your state for information on what discounts they offer.
Don’t forget the money you’ll save from staying fully compliant with environmental laws. Governments are increasingly choosing to fine businesses that violate environmental regulations. Those fines are an unnecessary expense.
Environmental management will also help you stay one step ahead of any new laws that the government introduces in the future.
You’ll Make Your Business More Efficient
Environmental management also has another positive side effect on your business. It’s great for efficiency.
Reducing resources and minimizing waste helps you stay competitive and lean. And it will help you weather any future storm like a recession.
Assessing the environmental impact of your business also gives you a chance to look at your end-to-end processes. You have the opportunity to spot improvements.
That exercise is hugely beneficial to any business. It’s a chance to see whether you operate efficiently.
You Could Access New Markets and Customers
Having a brand identity as a sustainable business will open your company up to new opportunities. That could mean more unique markets, product innovations, or a new customer demographic.
A new environmental policy will help you stand out. You’ll look a cut above other well-known businesses in your field. You’ll attract the attention of customers who put sustainability high on their priority list when buying products and services.
You can use this angle in your marketing. For example, you can run an online advertising campaign. This campaign can tell your audience what sustainability practices you’ve launched.
An excellent example is Ikea. They committed to reducing and minimizing plastic packaging in their business by 2028. That initiative will draw the attention of environmentally-conscious customers.
It’s Great for Employee Morale, Recruitment, and Retention
It’s not only your customers who care about the environment; your employees do too. Environmental management can help boost employee morale and increase productivity and loyalty.
Your employees will see that your workplace is committed to sustainability. If that cause is close to their heart, they will be more motivated to do their job well and help your company achieve those environmental goals.
Sound environmental management will also help create a healthier work environment. That’s particularly true if you plan on reducing pollution around your facilities.
Sound environmental policies will also help you attract and recruit the most talented people for your business.
You can extend your environmental policies to company rewards and incentives. For example, you can introduce electric vehicles for employees who use a company car.
These sorts of rewards will also help employees stick with your company. That will reduce staff turnover and help to cut recruitment costs.
Implementing an Environmental Management System
It’s not enough to want to support the environment as a business. To make a difference, you’ll need a proper system in place. That’s also known as an environmental management system (EMS).
An EMS includes strategies, processes, policies, and structures to help a business meet its environmental commitments.
It’s written and typically overseen by environmental managers. It will often come with performance targets. That way, a business can measure its performance against its environmental commitments.
Types of Environmental Management Systems and Processes
When creating an environmental management system, you’ll want to ensure you adhere to best practices. That’s why there are international standards that you can follow. These standards come with official certifications. Here are the three main ones.
ISO is an international framework for businesses. ISO 14001 covers a global standard for environmental management systems.
ISO 14001 involves identifying, managing, and reducing a business’s environmental impact. Each of those three phases has specific steps for a company to follow to help hit that standard.
For example, a company must implement a policy that will help reduce its environmental impact, such as a waste management policy.
Part of this framework also involves setting goals and targets. So you may choose a realistic target for the first twelve months and a more ambitious one for your longer-term plan.
For example, perhaps you could have a target for reducing paper in your organization by 20%, with a longer-term target of reducing it by 80%.
ISO 14001 certification means you’re auditable by a third party.
That provides a high standard for you to hit, but it’s something you’ll be able to showcase to customers and suppliers. It’s an internationally-recognized symbol of environmental management.
ISO 14005 guides environmental management systems. It helps show companies how to create an environmental management system (EMS) for their business. That includes developing, implementing, and improving that EMS.
It works with ISO 14001, following the same principles for sound environmental management.
EMAS (Eco-Management and Audit Scheme)
EMAS is the framework used by the EU (European Union). The European Commission originally developed it.
It’s similar to the ISO frameworks. It guides organizations with specific actions to comply with environmental regulations and improve their environmental performance.
Part of this framework involves a business setting up an environmental management system internally, including regular audits.
How to Create Environmental Management Awareness In Your Organization
Part of developing an environmental management system is making sure your customers and employees understand it. And, more importantly, can adhere to it. Here are some examples of best practices to ensure you do that effectively.
Write a Clear Policy
An environmental policy shouldn’t be a dusty, wordy document that you file away. It needs to be a living policy. It should be precise, written in plain English, and easy enough for all your employees to understand.
Put the file somewhere where it’s easy to access remotely. Ensure you regularly review it with your environmental management team. Send it to employees regularly to ensure it’s well communicated.
A monthly email summary with the critical points from the policy is a practical approach. You can also attach the more comprehensive document to the same email.
Invest in Environmental Management Training and Education
Make sure all your employees participate in either formal training or internal workshops. Use this as an opportunity for your team to learn strategies, rules, and best practices. Doing so will help you meet your environmental targets.
The more your employees understand their day-to-day responsibilities, the more likely you are to meet your performance targets.
Training and education will also help raise awareness among your staff. That way, they will understand why you can have specific policies. It will help shape their behavior and ensure they are committed to your environmental goals.
Use visuals to communicate your message, too. That could mean running presentations or adding posters to common areas. This will help to remind people about small steps such as recycling waste or reducing water usage.
Create the Right Culture
To become environmentally aware, your company must make it central to your corporate culture.
Employees need to see that the environment is essential. They must know that each small action can positively or negatively impact the business.
You can do this by ensuring leaders show the way. They can set an example for their teams. You can also tie in environmental tasks to employee performance targets. That helps ensure everyone is working towards the same goal.
Regular internal audits will ensure you do everything you set out in your environmental policies. You can do something as simple as a checklist. Using this checklist, you can randomly assess three or four areas of your organization every quarter.
Alternatively, you can pay for an external team to come in and audit your business regularly.
Anytime you run an audit, make sure you include a set of improvements. Assemble a team to ensure all those recommendations happen before the next audit.
That will ensure that your environmental policy is constantly improving and fully compliant with your internal standards. It will also help you keep up with any legal regulations you must follow.
Don’t rely on paper and documentation to manage your environmental responsibilities. Do as much as possible with modern technology, such as tracking software.
Ensure your financial software is set to measure any cost savings you make from your environmental policy. That might include tracking costs for energy use and waste.
Get feedback from wider stakeholders around your business. Many people and organizations have unique ideas to offer.
Seek advice from suppliers, investors, and customers to help shape your environmental policy. You can also get feedback on how effectively you communicate your environmental efforts with the broader world.
Connect With the Community
Remember the importance of connecting with your local community as part of your environmental efforts. That might mean investing in local parks or recycling facilities.
Always look for ways to improve how your business interacts with your local community.
Environmental Management: Next Steps
Is your business ready to put the environment center stage? If not, it’s time you consider an environmental management policy. Stay one step ahead of the trends, and your business will see the benefits reputationally and financially.
Your next step is to review our safety technology solutions to see how they can support your business’s green credentials.