Understanding Environmental Quality as a Business using Environmental Management Frameworks for Environmental Compliance?
Environmental Quality Survey for a business acts as a milestone for its efficiency and the cause of sustainability it champions. This week I want to talk about ecological and social justice in business-to-business sustainability.
The conversation about sustainability has been increasingly becoming part of the mainstream, leading to many changes in consumer attitudes and business practices, along with changes in mandated sustainability compliance practices.
With the push for sustainable business practices coming even from the UN (which has outlined global partnership as the road to sustainable development in trade), let us take a closer look into what sustainability in business looks like and what purpose it serves.
Last year after Glasgow’s COP26 stirred long debates on the environmental crisis, it could be argued that climate action got a push. Among many, some of the hard-hitting statistics that encouraged businesses to be more sustainable were these:
According to the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO), temperatures were around 1.09 °C higher than the 1850-1900 period from January to September 2021.
Sea level rise has increased from an average of 2.1mm a year between 1993 and 2000 to 4.4mm a year between 2013 and 2021, mostly because of the loss of ice from glaciers and ice sheets.
Regardless of your reason to turn towards climate positivity, reaching net zero for your business can be challenging. Let’s take a look at some of the few measures that can provide a rounded start to your environmental journey.
1. Making environmental claims on goods and services
There is a large-scale demand for goods and services that are environmentally friendly. The boom of sustainability, whether through greenwashing or genuine consciousness, has been directly linked to the proliferation of products that meet this brief.
In the UK, consumer protection law provides a framework for businesses to make environmental claims that help consumers make informed choices, provided these claims do not mislead consumers. On top of this, the consumer protection law also protects businesses from unfair competition which is overlooked by the external legislature and it creates a levelled field for small businesses whose products and services represent a strong choice for the betterment of the earth.
Taking this example into consideration, it would be highly beneficial for industries, entrepreneurs and leaders to follow a sustainable path to their practices and make environmental claims by disclosing their product performance. These genuine efforts, despite being rather small allow unparalleled transparency, adding to accountability as well as benefiting themselves by reaping commercial boons.
What are the basic guidelines for compliance that automatically adds environmental quality, you ask?
- Make truthful claims with accuracy while disclosing ‘green’ operations
- Make sure you are crystal clear and unambiguous
- Do not omit or chose to hide any relevant information
- You may draw parallels and cite similar examples, but they must be fair, comprehensible and meaningful
- Your claim must consider the full life cycle of the offered product or service
- All issues must be substantiated with functioning in clear clauses
2. Environmental Management Framework (EMS) to improve Environmental Quality
It is a structured framework that allows businesses to maintain resource efficiency and rethink life cycle considerations to achieve environmental improvement, or in other words, it helps businesses maintain and manage their impact on the environment by providing a framework to curb emissions.
2019 statistics noted that the amount of plastic being recycled in the UK rose from 44% to 50% within a year.
And while that is a small sliver of hope for finding better numbers, there still is massive room for improvement! Investing in an Environmental Management System will allow your business to reduce its carbon footprint and even go carbon-negative, by ensuring the correct functionality of all operations from recycling to paperwork like landfill tax documentation.
One thing I repeatedly stress is ISO 14001. As an environmental consultant and a climate activist, I have full faith in this environmental management system to yield climate-conscious results. Designed by the ISO – International Organisation for Standardisation, it assists businesses to identify and manage — and requires them to put controls in place to minimise — their environmental impact. ISO 14001 can be achieved by any organisation, regardless of its size and type.
Aligning yourself with this framework and complying with the reporting requirements is a direct step to bettering your environmental performance exponentially.
How are these environmental legislation objectives achieved?
The framework helps your business align well with legislative obligations, work towards staff commitments, help with waste management and cost analysis while improving the overall brand quality. Your business may gain the trust of consumers, build a reputation as well as act like a hallmark example to inspire other suppliers in your chain to take on a similar journey.
3. Align your partnerships with other sustainable businesses
When listing environmental sustainability as a critical strategy in your business plan, you may implement ways to check your progress. If your score is largely unchanged, it is possible that your alignment with partnered businesses is affecting your climate footprint. These are classified under scope-3 emissions. It is defined as the result of activities from assets not owned or controlled by the reporting organization, but that the organization indirectly impacts in its value chain.
Following that chain of thought, in order to improve your business’s environmental impact, a good start would be to reassess partnerships with other green-minded players. Seek out environmentally conscious suppliers for your business.
These could be for anything from cups and cleaning products to manufacturers, processors, distributors and others. Ensuring that your external supply chain is invested in sustainability like you is a great start to building a strong foundation for climate activism.
4. Energy Conservation
An overall reduction to energy use is a double win — better for the planet and better for the bank. Environmental quality is synonymous with efficient processes. In the Uk, businesses have plenty of strategies available that can contribute to an overall reduction of energy use that begins with an assessment of heating power used by central thermostats till accounting for energy-efficient equipment, such as light bulbs and radiators.
For larger organisations in the UK, ESOS (Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme) is a mandatory energy assessment scheme where the qualifying bodies need to carry out energy audits of their, industrial units, all the way from storage and transport to offices every four years. Deadline for the phase 3 compliance is 5 December 2023.
Display Energy Certificates or DECs on the other hand are required public-frequented buildings over 250m². This system ranks energy efficiency on a scale of A-G (A being the most efficient). The results follow an advisory report, visible to the public, which contains recommendations for improving the energy performance of the building.
The overall learning of all these points is to formally commit to climate empowerment and goals, invest in ideas, management programmes and strategies and innovate for real green success.
1. What is environmental quality?
Environmental quality refers to the condition of the natural environment in relation to human health and well-being. It includes factors such as air and water quality, noise pollution, and the availability of natural resources.
2. Why is environmental quality important?
Environmental quality is important because it directly impacts human health and well-being, as well as the health of other living organisms and the natural systems that support them. Poor environmental quality can lead to a range of negative health effects, as well as damage to natural systems.
3. How can we improve environmental quality?
Improving environmental quality can be achieved through a range of measures such as reducing pollution, protecting natural resources, and promoting sustainable practices. This can be done at the individual, community, and government levels.
4. What is environmental compliance business plan?
An environmental compliance business plan is a plan that outlines the steps a business will take to comply with environmental regulations and minimize negative impacts on the environment.
5. What is environmental quality assessment?
Environmental quality assessment is the process of evaluating and measuring the condition of the natural environment in relation to human health and well-being. It can be used to identify environmental problems and inform decision-making.
6. How can we maintain environmental quality?
Maintaining environmental quality can be achieved through ongoing monitoring and management of the natural environment. This can include measures such as pollution control, conservation, and sustainable resource use.
7. What are environmental quality standards?
Environmental quality standards are set levels of environmental quality that are considered acceptable for human health and well-being. These standards are used to guide policy and regulation.
8. What are positive environmental impacts?
Positive environmental impacts are the positive effects that human activities can have on the natural environment. Examples include conservation of natural resources and the development of clean energy sources.
9. Why is environmental quality important to industries?
Environmental quality is important to industries because it directly impacts their operations and reputation. Poor environmental quality can lead to increased costs, decreased productivity, and damage to reputation.
10. Why is Environmental Quality Survey important?
Environmental Quality Survey is important because it gives detailed information about the environmental quality of a certain area, which can be used as a benchmark for future monitoring and management.
11. What are environmental quality indicators?
Environmental quality indicators are measures used to assess the condition of the natural environment in relation to human health and well-being. They can be used to identify environmental problems and track progress in improving environmental quality.
12. What is the importance of environmental planning?
Environmental planning is important because it helps to ensure the responsible use and management of natural resources and minimize negative impacts on the environment. It can include measures such as land-use planning, conservation, and sustainable resource use.