How to create an environmental policy [+free template]
Published: August 2023
An environmental policy is a way for your company to acknowledge that its actions affect the environment and society. It helps you convey your commitment to environmental responsibility plus acts as guidance to your employees on how to achieve that.
However, creating an environmental policy can be a tricky task. But with the increasing demands from stakeholders and even legal requirements – it's kinda a must for staying relevant.
In this blog, we'll cover all you need to know before diving in, including a free Environmental policy template to kickstart your sustainability journey!
What's an environmental policy?
An environmental policy is a written statement that lays out a company’s goals and principles for managing the environmental impacts of its operations and decisions.
You can say that it serves as a guide for the organization, business partners, and suppliers, as it highlights its commitment to addressing and minimizing its environmental impacts. But it also serves as a tangible commitment to its customers and society if communicated externally.
What's the purpose of having an Environmental policy?
Having an environmental policy in place is a powerful tool that can be used in various ways to demonstrate your company’s commitment to environmental policy. With an Environmental policy in place, you can use it as:
- Internal guidance and employee engagement: Use the policy to guide team members on environmentally responsible practices within the company. Involve employees in the implementation of the Environmental policy. For instance, encourage them to come up with ideas and initiatives that align with the policy's goals. This involvement fosters a sense of ownership and commitment among the staff.
- Stakeholder communication: Share the policy with your stakeholders, such as customers, suppliers, and investors. It will help them understand the company’s efforts toward sustainability and its value.
- Tendering and bidding: When bidding for projects or tenders, having a well-defined Environmental policy can give you a competitive edge. Many organizations prioritize environmentally responsible partners, and the policy can show that you are a conscious and responsible choice.
- Compliance: Make sure your Environmental policy complies with the relevant laws and regulations where you operate. Then it serves as evidence of your company’s commitment to meet its legal obligations.
- Continuous improvements: Regularly review and update your policy. This way, you can make sure it stays relevant and reflects the company's values and goals. By staying up to date with the latest practices and innovations, you can make an even more positive impact.
What to include in a company's Environmental policy
Find the most commonly used components of a environmental policy listed here:
- General information of the company's mission: Provide the necessary background for the overall policy.
- A policy commitment: An explicit commitment that states the company’s commitment to complying with local laws of the operation countries and in consideration of relevant international agreements and standards, while considering the need to protect the environment and public health and safety.
- Environmental expectations: The company's expectations on respect for the environment of the workforce, suppliers, and other stakeholders.
- Stakeholder and supplier engagement: Encourage stakeholders and suppliers to implement the company’s environmental practices, standards, and targets.
- Implementation processes: Describe how the company implements the environmental policy internally and through other business relations, such as communication and training.
- Legislative compliance: Make sure to adhere to all applicable environmental laws and regulations where you operate.
- Remedy practices: Explain the company's processes for addressing and rectifying any adverse environmental impact it causes or contributes to.
- Continual reviews: The company must have processes in place to monitor its impact on the environment and document the steps to enable actions and possibilities to continuously improve. It should also be reviewed regularly to ensure legitimacy and relevance.
Tips for a successful environmental policy:
Check out Worldfavor’s Sustainability Advisor, Anna Gustavsson’s, top tips for a successful Environmental policy:
- Keep it real
Make sure your policy is realistic, achievable, and tailored to your company’s activities.
- Short and sweet
Keep it concise – just one or two sheets of A4 paper is enough.
- Simple language
Use easily understandable language, making complex issues clear and accessible whenever possible.
- Transparency is key
Make it publicly available and always include a date for transparency purposes.
- Top-level leadership
Approved by senior level and top management, who should take responsibility for implementing the policy throughout the entire company, plus ensuring everyone understands the requirements and works accordingly.
Pitfalls to avoid
- Lack of clarity: The policy doesn’t clearly outline what your company does or it’s too general.
- Complex language: Suppose the language is too complex and can only be understood by an environmental specialist. This probably doesn’t improve the company’s environmental impact.
- Unrealistic plans: Be cautious of setting unrealistic targets without explaining how your company plans to achieve them. For example, stating "zero emissions by 2050" without any explanation of the transition plan or yearly targets may not be feasible.
- Not specific enough: Avoid vague statements like “We’ll set targets to reduce our water consumption.” Instead, provide clear explanations and specific targets to show your commitment to achieving those goals.
- Signed by the wrong person: Make sure the policy is signed by the appropriate person who holds the necessary authority within the company. This adds credibility and accountability to your environmental efforts.
Worldfavor’s ESG platform helps companies, investors, supply chains, and corporations to manage data and drive sustainability. Improving your ESG performance has never been easier!
Our sustainability experts are on top of the ESG landscape, continuously monitoring market trends across industries and countries. We’re here to support you in setting your ESG scope and ensure the platform stays up to date as the legislation evolves. The best part? No need for consultants! Let's talk more.
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