We often read about the “environment” or see it mentioned in other media - it is usually referenced in terms of “global warming” or the more recent term “climate change”! The importance of protecting the natural environment in terms of habitats for wildlife is also often mentioned, but what does the environment mean at an economic level to small and medium sized businesses, particularly those employing say less than 50 employees, and why bother about it?

Well, there are several reasons why a company should look at its environmental management activities.

It may be necessary to satisfy the specific environmental requirements, perhaps even demands, of customers and the wider supply chain. Customers and the supply chain are often perceived as the key driver for environmental improvements by small and medium sized businesses.

Conformance with relevant environmental legislation is an issue which is vital if fines are to be avoided or indeed in some cases, continued operation of a process is to be guaranteed.

Financial organisations and particularly insurance providers sometimes ask regarding any past environmental incidents when offering their services.

The community may have an interest, particularly if the business has domestic neighbours close to its premises.

The employees of a company can be influenced by their employer’s attitude to environmental issues, with consequential effects on their motivation.

However, the company itself should be interested because if it can:

  1. Use less raw materials
  2. Use less electricity
  3. Use less gas
  4. Use less oil
  5. Use less water
  6. Produce less solid waste
  7. Produce less liquid waste
  8. Produce less emissions to the air

It will save money, money which improves the bottom line of a balance sheet!

In addition, good environmental management performance across all of the above areas and beyond, can give a company marketing kudos, which can help to attract more customers or perhaps just more orders.

The important thing for businesses is to focus on the effect of environmental management on economic performance.

However, another benefit of good environmental management is that all of the above will also help the birds, the bees and the butterflies (and the polar bears).


Article by Peter F Parnaby

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