Being ‘green’ and environmentally friendly is now expected of all companies as we have become more aware of the need for sustainable resources and the effects of pollution. Sadly though, many companies are still not doing enough and continue to make costly mistakes – costly in terms of both potential savings that could be made and cost to the environment too.
Energy and climate change legislation, for example, can be confusing for some companies and there is a high percentage who still do not realise that they pay a Climate Change tax for the energy they use – on top of the price they pay for the use of the energy. This is a shame because properly focused, costed and effectively implemented energy reduction initiatives can bring benefits both in terms of reduction of energy used and reduction in the climate change levy tax that needs to be paid. Also, there are specific grants available from central government to fund certain capital investment projects that meet the defined criteria for funding.
Waste management in particular continues to be an area where companies often fail to recognise their legal responsibilities. Waste disposal processes need to be properly managed – including ensuring that the waste contractor that is being used is a properly licensed and authorised carrier for the waste. Companies should also know where the waste is being taken and that the location is properly licensed to receive and process the waste. Also, many companies still fail to use all possible recycling options for the waste streams that they generate and often simply throw rubbish into a general waste skip. In other words they are not always thinking about the costs associated with landfill disposal – or the environmental impact. Many are unaware of the opportunities that are available for recycling waste and which, in some cases, could generate a small income from the recycler.
Similarly there is a requirement for clients to properly manage their F-Gas (Fluorinated Green House Gases) plant and equipment – i.e. chillers, coolers and air-conditioning equipment – which all contain highly ozone-depleting gases. These items need to be properly maintained to ensure that they do not leak gases into the atmosphere. Companies are often not aware of this and have no maintenance regimes in place. In January 2015 a total ban on certain types of F-Gas is coming into force but few clients have started to plan and budget for this. Required actions will include either de-gassing units and re-gassing with compliant gas or replacing the chiller units at potentially great expense.
However on a more positive note many companies are increasingly demonstrating much more awareness of their environmental responsibilities and are actively taking measures to comply with new legislation. This may be because of the high visibility of environmental issues covered by the media but is also down to more awareness of the ever-increasing taxes imposed by Government on high polluting industry sectors as well as general taxations relating to waste energy.
It obviously takes time for age-old established habits and customs to get replaced by ‘new-thinking’ but environmental awareness within the corporates has been steadily growing over the last two decades and the shift to ‘greener’ operations is now becoming more mainstream. There are still a few stragglers that remain to be convinced but thankfully they are now in the minority.