As an owner of a small or medium-sized business (SMB), it is terrific that you have decided to tackle making your small business more sustainable and environmentally safe. The good news is that the Small Business Division of the Environmental Protection Agency offers a free guide to writing your own Environmental Management Plan (EMP). This article describes some common elements of the EMP based on the EPA publication. You can also check out the link at the bottom of this article to download the PDF file for the entire guide.
According to the EPA, two benefits of an EMP are:
*You can track how you manage environmental activities for optimal organization, including what the labor hours that employees spend on these activities.
*Employees know what you expect of them in relation to environmental management.
Another benefit of writing the EMP is that your company can provide documentation in the event of any legal or ethical trouble related to the environment. Just like the prevention of employee injuries saves on expensive worker’s compensation claims, preventing environmental damage through compliance with federal environmental laws reduces your exposure to environmental liability.
Your environmental management plan includes a lot of activities. Here are some key highlights of developing a written plan for a small business based on the EPA guidebook:
*Environmental policy- This beginning portion of the EMP reads like a paragraph. Spell out exactly how your business is committed to environmental management. EPA also recommends that the statement reference the appropriate environmental laws and Best Management Practices (BMPs) and be tailored to your business’s work processes and culture. The policy includes how the company will reach its environmental goals. If your business is an office environment, your policy might include a reference to an environmental practice like mandatory recycling for office paper.
*Allocation of resources—The EPA guide offers a worksheet for charting the responsibilities of each member of the organization for environmental management. In other words, what are your duties as the owner? What are managers and employees expected to do? Each environmental duty is assigned the criteria of being critical or important for the company.
Hint: Working through resource allocation analysis might even identify ways to streamline your business operation and improve existing job descriptions. You can solicit the assistance of your staff in assigning and shifting responsibilities.
*Specific areas of management—Writing an outline for the environmental management manual continues at length after you have developed the policy and list of employee responsibilities. EPA provides a sample outline for an environmental management manual. Topics include: emergency preparedness, hazardous waste management, air management, wastewater, and storm water management.
*Plans and permits—An optional section of the manual outline includes the plans and permits your company is required by law to secure for normal business operations. You might also voluntarily obtain other permits based on your commitment to the environment.
*Environmental standard operating procedures (SOPs) –You will also add details about your standard operating procedures related to environmental management. Some information is based on activities that the business already performs. In the planning process, research applicable laws and systematically revise standard operating procedures to match any guidelines your company is not currently following.
*Best management practices (BMPs)—EPA also recommends focusing on what goes on around you. Identify practices around the U.S. that help businesses reduce their environmental impact. “Sources include industry or trade associations for your type of business, university and state pollution prevention assistance programs, state Small Business Assistance Programs, and the U.S. EPA Small Business Division.” When you encounter best practices, review them with your employees and decide what practices should be implemented for better environmental management.
Your commitment to environmental management is important for the future of our fragile planet. Keep up your green business practices, and don’t forget to update customers and suppliers from time to time on your environmental accomplishments. Your contributions go a long way toward building a sustainable future in a world limited in natural resources.
Small Business Division – U.S. Environmental Protection Agency- http://www.smallbiz-enviroweb.org/Resources/smallbizfiles/Documenting_EMP.pdf?cm_sp=ExternalLink-_-Federal-_-EPA
About the Author:
JD Carr, CGB – is a serial entrepreneur and consultant with over 14 years experience building Internet and digital media businesses. JD is a Certified Green Broker® and specializes in commercial building sustainability and finance with Greenergy2030.com. A vocal advocate for environmental issues, JD writes and lectures frequently on the subject and is committed to helping entrepreneurs realize the positive goals their organizations can achieve through sustainable business practices.