Nowadays, customers, consumers, and investors are demanding more and more products and services that are friendly to the environment. Thus, it is almost essential for those who want success in the business world to adopt an internationally recognized environmental management standard.
An EMS (Environmental Management System) is a tool by which a company controls products, activities, and processes that have – or could have – a negative impact on the environment and thus learn how to mitigate properly.
One of the regulatory and legal areas involving business management is the Environmental Policy.
Environmental Policy is the set of political efforts to conserve the natural foundations of human life and achieve sustainable development. It has become an autonomous political sector more and more important both nationally and internationally.
The definition of an environmental policy at company level is the requirement of environmental management systems certified as ISO 14001 or EMAS.
Principles of Environmental Policy
Although there is not a general agreement on the principles of environmental policy, there are some generally accepted bases:
- The principle of sustainable development.
- The principle of responsibility.
- The precautionary principle when prevention is always better than having to correct.
- The substitution principle requires replacing hazardous substances with less polluting substitutes, and energy-intensive processes with more efficient ones that are always available.
- The principle of “polluter pays” for cases that cannot prevent environmental damage, whenever is possible to identify the cause.
- The principle of consistency, which requires the coordination of environmental policy with other departments and the integration of environmental issues in other fields (for example, infrastructure policy and economic policy).
- The principle of cooperation: the indispensable integration of important social groups in the ongoing definition of environmental goals and their realization.
- The environmental policy must always be based on the results of scientific research.
Environmental Policy Tools
Legal tools: The set of rules and laws regarding the environment at local, regional, national, and international levels.
Administrative tools: Evaluations, controls, authorizations, and regulations. Examples include environmental impact assessments and environmental audits.
Technical tools: The promotion and application of the best available technologies for both preventive and corrective actions.
Economic and fiscal tools: Subsidies, taxes, fees, and charges. To internalize environmental costs, the idea is to reward some of the costs of positive actions and penalize those who damage the environment.
Social tools: The key points of these tools are information and participation. They try to raise public awareness through environmental education, public information, and integration in environmental projects.