Wednesday, 18 July 2007

Environment Policy

I discussed Equal Opportunity policies yesterday (here and here). Now for the "Environment Policy". Below is Supply London's boilerplate version, with my annotations. Note that I am not an environmental expert at all, happy to be corrected on the paper / water issues in particular:

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Company XYZ Ltd
Environmental Policy

Company XYZ was established in xxxx to provide xxxxxxxx to the xxxxx industry. We are based in xxxxxxx and employ xxxxx people.

We are committed to comply with legislation, to continually improve our processes to prevent pollution so lessening our impact on the environment. We provide training and education for our employees on environmental issues and monitor and review our environmental progress on an annual basis. We have set ourselves specific objectives and targets which show that we are aware of our impact and that we are acting upon this knowledge.

Our objectives and targets are:-

1. to measure our use of energy and water [why is using water bad? I never understand this. The planet can’t run out of water, we aren’t turning the water into anything else – it will eventually run into the sea, evaporate and come down as rain again. I think you only need to conserve water in the case of a local shortage, it is not a global environment issue] and reduce this by x% by xxxxx
2. to reduce the amount of waste by introducing a recycling system for paper, bottles and cans by xxxx [local authority best positioned for that: it is not environmentally friendly for everyone to individually drive loads of paper/cans/bottles to a recycling point]
3. to reduce the amount of waste by printing double sided [is using paper actually bad? Paper is produced from trees grown specifically for making paper. Before they are harvested to make paper, those trees spend a few years soaking up greenhouse gasses. If we used less paper, some of those trees would not be planted, and so we would have more greenhouse gas] and by using glasses by xxxx [Using glasses instead of plastic cups is not necessarily better for the environment: the energy needed to make a glass, and to wash it regularly, is so high that you need to be sure to reuse the glass many, many times before it offers an environmental advantage over disposable cups. See Hocking, 1994, Environmental Management 18(6)]
4. to encourage employees to use public transport and share cars wherever possible and to investigate the feasibility of providing a bike to work scheme by xxxx [this we already do]
5. to use our buying power wherever practicable by buying local [Buying locally is almost certain to be harmful to the environment: a local stationery supplier making lots of small, inefficient trips between his store and his customers is less environmentally friendly than, say, Viking’s super-efficient national distribution system], fair-trade [fair trade is probably harmful to most third-world producers, although not sure whether it is an environmental issue at all: if you pay a privileged group of producers above the market price you distort competition, and disadvantage other (equally deserving) producers, really no different from the EU artificially subsidising French farmers see here for detailed review of this issue], recycled and products from sustainable sources
6. to use wherever practicable suppliers who share the same environmental ethos as us.

[Apart from the specific points I made above, I am uncertain that us putting in place, say, a target for printing double-sided is the best thing to focus on. The best way for us to have a positive environmental impact is to grow our central London motorcycle-based business: for every additional bike-based handyman we employ, that is likely to displace one competitor’s knackered transit van. And you’d have to, surely, save on a huge amount of paper to outweigh the benefit of 100mpg scooter vs 30mpg Transit? Achieving some minor target of dubious environmental benefit is going to distract from that.]

A copy of this policy is posted on the Company Notice Board and is also contained in the staff handbook and is made available to our customers via our website.

The next review date for this policy is xx/xx/xxxx

Signed

Date