HR 16 January 2018

How employers can create more environmentally friendly workplaces

Young business people walking through the hall of the office building.
The government has made plans to reduce plastic waste over the next 25 years

Theresa May launched the government’s environment plan this month, setting out measures to reduce plastic waste over the next 25 years.

Here, Peninsula employment law director, Alan Price, offers some practical tips to help employers create environmentally friendly workplaces.

The prime minister announced that the government will play a part in reducing plastic by removing all single-use plastic from government offices.

In answer to a later question, May praised the media organisation Sky for banning single-use plastic from their workplaces, and indicated that other businesses could have a positive impact by introducing a similar ban.

With environmental issues firmly on the government’s radar, employers may be considering the steps they can take to work towards reducing the “throwaway culture” within their business.

Three tips for creating environmentally friendly workplaces

(1) Implement a company-wide environmental policy

Employers should consider introducing a company-wide environmental policy, setting out your firm’s commitment to tackling environmental issues.

This could be in the form of an environmental policy, a sustainability policy or a green scheme.  Rather than being a paper exercise, this policy should be available to all, with members of staff able to read and understand the company’s intentions towards environmental issues.

The policy can set out the practical steps the business will take in this area, or employers may wish to introduce specific environmental plans within their normal processes and procedures.

Read more: The energy efficiency platform aiming to make British Gas obsolete

Practical areas employers can consider include employee travel. When planning events or meetings, employers should be mindful of the location, and set it depending on which location requires the fewest employees to travel.

When requesting business travel, employees can be advised to review public transport first, with single-car use or private transport only being approved in specific circumstances.

In addition, employers may wish to utilise technology, such as video conferencing or conference calls, which eliminate the need for employees to travel.

(2) Consider switching to paperless filing

Another practical consideration for employers are the resources they use within their business. For example, all employers will need to hold certain information about their employees.

Although traditionally, this has been in the form of a paper file stored in a filing cabinet, employers can consider moving these online to cut down on the amount of paper needed.

A paper-free workplace policy can also be used across all departments, however, employees may need additional support and training as this is likely to be a significant change to their normal way of working.

Halcyan: Fusing sustainability with practicality to tackle the UK’s billions in wasted energy

(3) Consider switching to renewable energy sources

Making changes to energy use, using renewable energy sources, reducing wastage and lowering emissions should all be thought about by employers.

Companies can also take positive steps to encourage staff to become more environmentally aware. This can include introducing a cycle-to-work scheme, providing branded reusable coffee cups and improving awareness by embracing national intitiatives, such as Recycle Week.

Any small steps employers take now will improve the culture of their working culture and contribute towards a greater number of environmentally friendly workplaces.

Alan Price is Peninsula HR and Employment Law Director

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