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“Good to receive thoughts and guidance in what can be a very complicated process.”
Mike Radlett, Carville Switchgear, Burgess Hill

An Easy Guide to Writing an Environmental or Sustainability Policy

This guide has been produced by SBP CIC as a free resource to help organisations get greener, win more tenders and celebrate good practice to customers and stakeholders. Please give us a shout out on social media if you have found this document useful @sustbusnetwork or LinkedIn. If you want support developing your policy, we can help with that too.

An Environmental Policy sets out an organisation’s environmental direction, intentions and values.

The International Environmental Management System (EMS) standard ISO 14001 defines an Environmental Policy as:

“A statement of the overall intentions and direction of an organisation related to its environmental performance as formally expressed by top management. The environmental policy provides a framework for action and for the setting of environmental objectives and environmental targets”.

It is important to recognise the difference between the policy and the strategy / action plan. The policy should be the guiding principles and headline targets that sit above a more detailed action plan. The policy is a public document aimed at customers, suppliers, stakeholders and staff. The action plan is usually an internal document that contains the SMART details of how you will achieve your objectives and targets. By all means, have a look at the policies of other businesses in your sector, but don’t copy them as the process of writing the policy yourself is important to making it relevant to the organisation.

The difference between an Environmental Policy and a Sustainability Policy is that a Sustainability Policy may also include references to social, ethical and economic commitments, such as volunteering or specifying local suppliers. Be sure to also include the good stuff you are already doing.

What to include in your Environmental Policy

Although there is no standard format for writing an Environmental Policy, there are three things that you should commit to if you are following the ISO 14001 Environmental Management System:

  1. Compliance with relevant legislation
  2. Prevention of pollution
  3. Continuous improvement

In addition, here are a few basic rules to follow to ensure clarity:

Policy Traps – You’ll be discovered! Things to avoid:

Why not check our own Sustainability Policy for ideas and inspiration?!

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