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Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Environmental Legislation Over-view

accreditation logo for PHPR in the Green Business Partnership with 2 ticks
PHPR is a member of the Green Business Partnership and has two green accreditations put of a maximum of three.

Thank you Business Environment Partnership - now the Green Business Partnership-  and Edinburgh Council for today's workshop for smaller businesses on environmental legislation. With good input from SEPA on their advisory and monitoring roles.

Since 1990, enviro requirements on business have been mounting, thanks to European legislation. But exactly how that affects individual businesses can be tricky to work out. There's certainly no shortage of paid-for services to subscribe to, and consultants to lead you through the maze.

I'm very pleased to discover the excellent free resources where you can get a bespoke answer as to your environmental compliance requirements at the Business Link site.

Once you have your legislation list, that's the foundation for your Environmental Management System (EMS). Then you need to to dig deeper to find out what you need to do about each individual piece of legislation by searching Netregs. There's a free text box at the top right, but you can also run searches by business type, enviro topic, or go through current & future legislation. Netregs streams info according to location as the Scottish Parliament have their own variants, as do England & Wales, and Northern Ireland.

The Netregs site has been recently re-vamped so it's worth re-visiting if you haven't been there for a while.

You can sign up for their updates so you stay up-to-date.

There's enough info there to help you create your own Environmental Management System (EMS).
I'm told they are going to expand their e-learning tools for specific sectors. These currently cover agriculture plus food and drink.

Another way to get help with planning your EMS is to go in for the VIBES awards, Scotland's top environmental awards for business, which feed into the European environmental awards, with seriously good international publicity exposure and networking opportunities.

The VIBES application form covers the main building blocks you need and the feedback from the judges (free to all award applicants) will give you an expert steer. I used that to move our long-standing environment policy (first written in 1986, based on reduce, re-use and re-cycle) to a more sophisticated level encompassing carbon offsetting for necessary business energy use and travel. We got our expert feedback and followed the judges' advice. We entered again last year, to be rewarded with a place on the shortlist.

Once shortlisted, you receive an intensive visit from the judges, to prove you have demonstrated exceptional environmental performance, and of course, it's a great opportunity to get further bespoke advice. And we got serious new business enquiries at the awards ceremony itself, which was a welcome bonus.

One of the key messages I took away from today's workshop is that it's not enough to assume a waste contractor has the full range of licences they need for both transporting and disposing of different types of waste. You need to check this and be able to stream your waste for the most cost-effective disposal.

You also need to make sure that the paper trail is properly signed off when you hand over the responsibility for your waste to a contractor.

Otherwise, if your stuff is found dumped illegally, you can't prove you were not responsible and you will be held liable. That could mean a fine of several thousands of pounds.

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posted by Penny Haywood Calder at


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