Environmental management—environmental policies
Produced in partnership with Colleen Theron of Ardea International
Environmental management—environmental policies

The following Environment practice note produced in partnership with Colleen Theron of Ardea International provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Environmental management—environmental policies
  • What is an environmental policy?
  • Why should lawyers be aware of environmental policies?
  • Why should companies consider adopting an environmental policy?
  • What should organisations do before drafting an environmental policy?
  • What should a basic environmental policy include?
  • What should companies do once they have an environmental policy in place?
  • Guidance on developing an environmental policy and selecting suitable environmental Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

What is an environmental policy?

WRAP defines an environmental policy as 'a written statement outlining [an] organisation’s mission in relation to managing the environmental impacts of its operations'.

An environmental policy:

  1. outlines the organisation’s environmental aims and objectives and can form the basis of an environmental management system (EMS), where applicable

  2. should be endorsed and actively supported by top management and known to all staff

  3. allows management to communicate its environmental aims and objectives to employees and other stakeholders, such as shareholders, customers and suppliers

  4. should be integrated into business strategy

Why should lawyers be aware of environmental policies?

There is no legal requirement for companies to have in place an environmental (or sustainability) policy in the UK.

However, under the Companies Act 2006 certain companies are required to report on their environmental issues, including key performance indicators (KPIs), see Practice Note: Mandatory environmental reporting). An environmental policy is valuable in setting out the framework for such disclosures. These should be taken into consideration during a corporate due diligence procedure on behalf of clients during any acquisition, merger or sale.

Although a director’s duty of care does not explicitly require him/her to ensure that a company has a written policy statement regarding corporate responsibility commitments, such as a commitment to respect the environment, a written policy statement and a compliance process could reduce a company’s exposure to the risk of

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