How to write an environmental policy

What to include in your environmental policy


There is no standard content for an environmental policy, although policies normally contain similar themes. Your policy should be personal to your business, so it should reflect the business' main activities, priorities and concerns.

What your environmental policy should contain

The content of your policy should be based on the results of your assessment, which should have identified the key environmental issues that apply to your business.

In addition, your environmental policy should contain brief statements on the following:

  • The business mission and information about its operations. Bear in mind that if your business activities or operations change significantly, you may need to amend the policy.
  • A commitment to continually improve your environmental performance.
  • A commitment to prevent pollution and effectively manage your significant environmental impacts.
  • The expectations that your business has in relation to external parties such as suppliers and contractors.
  • Recognition that you will comply with relevant environmental legislation as a minimum level of performance.
  • Education and training of employees in environmental issues and the environmental effects of their activities.
  • Monitoring progress and reviewing environmental performance against targets and objectives on a regular basis (usually yearly or in the first six months initially).
  • A commitment to communicate your business' environmental aims and objectives to all staff, as well as to customers, investors and other external stakeholders.

Additional issues relevant to your business that you may wish to address in your environmental policy could include:

  • transport - for example the vehicles you own or use
  • minimising waste - yours and from suppliers
  • reusing packaging and other materials
  • recycling
  • efficient use of water and energy
  • use of biodegradable chemicals
  • minimising use of solvents and lead-based paints
  • use of timber or wood products from sustainable (managed) forests
  • procedures to minimise noise disturbance to neighbours
  • phasing out of ozone-depleting substances

If your business is linked closely to key customers through the supply chain, obtain a copy of their environmental policy, so that your statements can reflect their requirements and needs.

Your policy should demonstrate commitment by senior management and is usually signed by the managing director, chairperson or chief executive.

You may want to integrate your environmental policy with other policies on health and safety, quality management, corporate social responsibility or sustainability.

You can download an example environmental policy (DOCX, 15K).

Get a free sustainability report

All Northern Ireland businesses with an annual energy and resource spend of more than £30k can get a free assessment of their environmental performance across areas such as raw materials, energy, carbon, packaging, biodiversity and waste - find out more about Invest NI Sustainability Reports.