Morgan Law Environmental Policy
Due to the nature of our business the areas of Environmental policy we can have an affect on are covered under guidelines laid out by the Environment Agency for Office Businesses. These guidelines are relevant to many organisations as, regardless of sector and size, most organisations have an office of some kind. These guidelines cover the common environmental impacts of a typical office.
The types of activity undertaken as part of managing an office include:
- purchasing office equipment and supplies;
- waste disposal;
- heating and lighting;
- water supply;
- cleaning; and
- maintaining the building, any landscaping around it and car parking.
This guidance is aimed at helping anyone working in an office to ensure legal compliance with environmental regulations, reduce their impact on the environment and save money by improving the use of office resources.
The guidance has been subdivided into the following areas under the overall title of Resource Management:
Each area provides practical guidance on how to comply with the relevant environmental legislation and good practice guidance advice on how we can reduce our impact on the environment.
General Principles of Resource Management
Clear commitment from senior management is the essential first step to developing and implementing environmental strategy and policy. You should assess the amount of energy and water your office consumes and waste it produces, so that you can manage them effectively. Keeping track of consumption patterns will help you to establish trends and identify anomalies that may indicate wastage. Understanding consumption patterns will help you to set realistic improvement targets.
To improve overall business performance, you will need to collate baseline information, establish benchmarks and set targets. Raising employee awareness also plays a key role in achieving and maintaining continuous improvement. To increase staff awareness, put in place a ‘green’ office notice board and/or set up a staff suggestion scheme. Suggestions from the people who work in your office are likely to be very relevant to their work. Once staff ideas are seen to receive serious consideration, staff will feel part of the "greening process", be more likely to co-operate and have a better idea of how practices could be improved.
Waste Legal Compliance
Any substance or object that you discard, intend to discard, or are required to discard is waste and as such is subject to a number of regulatory requirements. Be aware that the term ‘discard’ has a special meaning. Even if material is sent for recycling or undergoes treatment in house, it can still be waste. For further information on the law governing waste management, use the link below.
Waste Management Licensing
Examples of substances that are likely to have been discarded and may be waste include:
- Used toner cartridges
- Redundant furniture
- Redundant computer equipment
- Used batteries
- Paper and cardboard
- Light bulbs and florescent tubes
However, if these items are donated for someone to reuse, rather than being discarded, they may not be classed as waste. You will only have to comply with the requirements below if an item is classed as waste. Click on the link below for further information on when items are classed as waste:
Reuse and Refurbishment Guide
comply with the Duty of Care which requires that you ensure all waste is stored and disposed of responsibly, that it is only handled or dealt with by individuals or companies that are authorised to deal with it, and that a record is kept of all wastes received or transferred through a system of signed Waste Transfer Notes.
Duty of Care for Waste
Be aware that, if the material that you are disposing of has hazardous properties, it may need to be dealt with as ‘Special Waste.’ For further information on what you must do in addition to the ‘Duty of Care’ when handling Special Waste.
- assess whether containers are Special Waste if you intend to discard them. Containers may be Special Waste if they contain residues of hazardous or dangerous substances/materials. If the residue is 'Special', then the whole container may be Special Waste.
- be aware that materials requiring recycling either on your premises or elsewhere are likely to be waste and, if so, will be subject to the waste management regime and the Duty of Care. If in any doubt, seek advice from the Environmental Regulator.
- label containers holding liquid waste and store them securely on your site while they await disposal or recovery, so they cannot escape into drains, watercourses or surrounding ground. Any accidental spills must be properly and effectively contained and cleaned up.
Reducing waste at source can mean more profits and less pollution. As a first step, try and reduce the amount of materials and other resources you use in your office, be it paper, pens or water. Purchase only what you need. Consider and encourage the 4 Rs:
- Reduce waste at source;
- Repair before replacement;
- Reuse rather than discard or procure;
Recycle to reduce disposal costs, especially to landfill.
Use awareness posters as a reminder to follow good practice. Action Energy offers a good selection of free clipart you can customise. For further assistance, call the Environment and Energy Helpline, free on 0800 585794.
Paper Saving Techniques
The key environmental impacts associated with paper production and use are:
- Loss of natural habitat to intensive tree farming;
- Pollution from manufacture, for example bleaching agents, effluent, and additives;
- Energy usage;
- Waste disposal: landfill and incineration.
Making paper from recycled pulp uses less energy and requires less bleach and chemicals than paper manufactured from virgin fibres. Reduce your usage, re-use and recycle your paper and close the recycling loop by using recycled paper. This will also reduce the volume of waste going to landfill/incineration and pressure on natural habitats as demand for new timber decreases.
By implementing some of the following easy actions, you can start making small savings that will soon add up:
Record how much paper you use, and where you use it, so you can identify savings and wasteful practices.
Reduce the amount of paper used in the office by using some of the following techniques:
Only print and photocopy where necessary.
Photocopy and print double-sided (make this the default setting).
Always do a single trial copy before doing a big batch. Use spell checkers and other facilities.
Print drafts, internal documents and photocopy on paper that has only been used on one side. To stop either the printer or photocopier from jamming, store the paper to be re-used near the machine under a heavy weight so that all the paper is at a similar humidity and temperature level.
Always open envelopes carefully and either re-use them internally as files or for internal mail, or use labels to re-use envelopes back through the post.
Make pads out of scrap paper, for example, to use to take telephone messages, notes, etc.
Energy consumption is the largest controllable outgoing in running an office building. Whatever the size or type of your business, you stand to gain from being more energy efficient. Initial cost savings can be made through changing habits and practices without the need for any expenditure. With low capital outlay, significant improvements can usually be achieved with a short payback period. Businesses that manage their energy consumption effectively will be in a better position to absorb any increase in energy prices.
This section focuses on areas where small businesses use most of their energy: heating, lighting and office equipment (such as printers, copiers and PCs).
The key environmental impacts associated with electricity production and use are:
- global climate change;
- air pollution and acid rain;
- consumption of natural resources.
Energy efficiency in the office can provide an immediate and cost-effective response to these impacts.
- Good water management programmes that conserve water use can save significant sums of money.
- By using water more efficiently, you can also reduce energy costs, either through the use of less hot water or by avoiding pumping costs. If you need to store large quantities of hot water, heat water at night if rates are lower and just apply booster heating during the daytime.
- Consumption can be calculated from your water bills. However, most offices have water supplied through a Water Meter, indicating the amount used. Your local Water Company/ Scottish Water/ Water Service reads the meter on a regular basis and then sends you a bill for the amount used. If you do not have a meter fitted and do not use a large quantity of water, it may be beneficial to have one fitted - it could save you money.
- Your water supplier will also make a charge for disposal of waste water calculated on the amount of water that has been registered by your meter (i.e. "water-out" = x% of "water in"). So it makes sense to make sure you only get the water you actually need.
You should check:
- your meter readings and pipes regularly and carefully, particularly in cold weather, to ensure you detect a burst or a leak.
- that the meter size is appropriate to your demand. If you have inherited a larger than necessary meter you will be charged more than you need to be.
- the location of your meter and where it supplies. This is particularly relevant to industrial/ business parks where a neighbouring business may be supplied through your meter.
Guidelines for Company Reporting on Water
These guidelines from Defra have information on how to carry out a water audit, set targets, achieve savings and improve performance.
- How We Help To Save Water. How to save water in the home, business, industry, public sector, commerce and agriculture. Case studies, information on water efficient devices and details of the winners of the "Water Efficiency Awards 2005".
- Many water suppliers provide advice on water-saving initiatives. Contact your local water supplier for further information.
- UK Water Companies and Authorities
Ensure taps do not drip (or leak) when turned off. If they leak try fitting a new washer or fit push-button taps that operate for a pre-determined time and then automatically turn off - fitted in washrooms, payback is very quick.
Many taps give an unnecessarily high flow after only a quarter turn. You can reduce the pressure by fitting a restrictor valve - they are easy to fit and cost only a few pounds.
Toilet cisterns, especially older models, hold and use more water for each flush than is required. A correctly fitted ‘Hippo’ will reduce the amount of water used. Your local Water Company/ Scottish Water/ Water Service may supply them free of charge. Alternatively, you can improvise by placing a solid object such as a brick or a plastic drink bottle filled with clean water into the cistern. You may need to experiment with different sized objects to ensure adequate flushing is maintained. For more information use the UK Water Companies link above.
If you buy new toilet systems, consider dual flush cisterns, which allow two types of flushes to be used.
For men’s toilets, consider installing an automatic flush control system. These are standard in new buildings and ensure that the cistern only flushes during office hours or after use rather than continuously. Old style urinals that flush automatically every 5 to 10 minutes can account for more than half your water bill. Passive infra red detectors can be fitted to old-style urinals to allow automatic flushing only after use.
Make sure plugs are available for washing hands, dishes or food.
If you are washing something small, but only have a very large sink, use a bowl.
Only use the dishwasher when you have a full load.