Environmental Policy Developments and Manufacturing: Part 2
by Steve Walter, Health, Safety and Environment Advisor, Engineering Employers Federation
Part 1 of this article appeared in the February 2000 issue of FOCUS.
The overriding driver for environmental law and the promotion of best practice
is sustainable development. This principle is most commonly defined by the
Brundtland definition as:
'development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs'.
It has four key elements:
- Social progress which recognises the needs of everyone
- Effective protection of the environment
- Prudent use of natural resources
- Maintenance of economic growth and employment
These elements are manifest in growing environmental controls through both legal and market measures. For example waste disposal being affected by the landfill tax; climate change which is being primarily influenced by the climate change levy; transport through proposed workplace parking charges and road user charges; product life cycle and product takeback through specific regulations such as those on Producer Responsibility and Packaging and those proposed on End of Life Vehicles and Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (see below) and finally, habitat loss which is primarily controlled through the planning system.
Many companies are taking notice of sustainability because it has a direct impact for survivability. Sustainable development effectively requires companies to strategically review the markets they are in, the products they make and the efficiency with which they make them ('closing the loop' to maximise the recovery and reuse of materials throughout the manufacturing process from the input of raw materials to output in the form of final product, thereby minimising 'wastes').
Arguably one of the most significant proposals to arise from the EU under the sustainable development banner is the proposed Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Directive. This applies to a wide range of white and brown goods from refrigerators to computers and effectively requires the product to be taken back by the manufacturer when it has reached the end of its useful life.
There are similar far reaching proposals for 'closing the loop' in vehicle manufacture through the proposed End of Life Vehicles Directive.
The DETR has published a series of fact sheets on Sustainable Development (SD). EEF welcomes these as a tool to help companies become aware of the SD agenda. We have previously requested that the DETR should produce practical summaries, akin to data sheets, on SD, to help define this issue and prioritise action. The fact sheets are:
- A Better Quality of Life: Summary
- Are you doing your bit?
- Voluntary and Community Sector
- UK Business
- Local Authorities
- Monitoring Progress
The full set of fact sheets is available at: http://sd.defra.gov.uk
The factsheets include the following summary of key actions for business:
- make a commitment to assess and address your impacts doing your bit on resource use, energy and water consumption, waste, transport, emissions, etc. perhaps through formal management systems, (i.e. ISO 14001 and/or EMAS) or by signing up to the Government's revamped Corporate Commitment campaign.
- be "best in class" explore the scope for greater eco-efficiency in all aspects of the business and make full use of benchmarking and other techniques as well as the help and advice from the Government's Best Practice Programmes energy efficiency, environmental technology, construction, and emerging areas of advice on freight distribution and waste management.
- embrace the principles of producer responsibility by caring about what happens to products at end of life, by working towards greater recycling and recyclability, by taking account of the different aspects from "cradle to grave" in supplying products and services, and considering all the implications and opportunities at the design stage.
- attend to social responsibilities as a good employer, by for example encouraging fairness at work; helping staff to develop their skills, by introducing green transport plans; as a good neighbour being responsive to the local community; and as an ethical trader.
- communicate with stakeholders customers, the workforce, local community, shareholders by reporting on environmental performance against meaningful targets, by utilising product labelling and making green claims that are legal, decent, honest, and truthful about products and services so that customers and consumers might respond.
- work with others through the supply chain, specifying what you want and helping others to comply, or as part of concerted sectoral action to help improve overall performance, safeguarding yours as well as theirs.
The EEF (Engineering Employers' Federation) is the representative voice of engineering in the UK. The EEF is a nationwide federation of 13 regional Associations and the ECIA, the Engineering Construction Industry Association. The EEF has a growing membership of over 5,700 companies of all sizes, employing some 900,000 people from every sector of engineering, manufacturing, engineering construction and technology-based industries
EEF provides an extensive range of Health, Safety and Environmental consultancy services through its regional Associations and ECIA. For further information visit the EEF website www.eef.org.uk.
EEF has developed two documents for the Environmental Technology Best Practice Programme: Waste Minimisation Pays (GG125) and more recently Environmental Management Systems Workbook for Engineering Manufacturers (GG205). Both provide a practical guide to the benefits of environmental management.
Waste Minimisation Pays sets out the business case including a presentation which can be made to the Board of Directors complete with speakers' notes. The Environmental Management Systems Workbook includes extensive and comprehensive advice for engineering manufacturers complete with practical sheets to help with the process of environmental review and environmental risk assessment.
(These publications are available free of charge from the Environment and Energy Helpline 0800 585794).
EEF Register of Environmental Legislation
EEF has produced a very popular Register of Environmental Legislation which provides a comprehensive outline of environmental legislation and supporting guidance affecting manufacturing and other businesses in England and Wales.
Used extensively by ISO 14001 companies, its one hundred and eighteen pages are packed with information invaluable to those companies undertaking an initial environmental review, conducting a compliance audit or carrying out their ongoing environmental management review. It contains not only a list of relevant legislation but, importantly, a short summary of the legal requirements. The guide is up to date as of May 1999. A revised issue is expected in Spring 2000.
For your copy contact: EEF Publication Sales, Broadway House, Tothill Street, London SW1H 9NQ. Tel: 0171 222 7777 or Fax: 0171 222 0792.
Relevant web sites
Environment Agency, UK is well structured and new information is constantly appearing. Facility for ordering free leaflets. Contains the Chemical Release Inventory.
Chemical Sector Information Network. This links to members APME, CEFIC, CEPE, EFMA, FEICA.
UNEP Chemicals is the centre for all chemicals-related activities of the United Nations Environment Programme. The goal is to make the world a safer place from toxic chemicals. UNEP do this by helping governments take needed global actions for the sound management of chemicals, by promoting the exchange of information on chemicals, and by helping to build the capacities of countries around the world to use chemicals safely. The IRPTC database and information is in this collection.
Environmental Engineering Information Sources - University of Edinburgh Engineering Virtual Library. Provides an excellent gateway to quality environmental engineering information.
Environmental Health and Safety, Southern Illinois University These pages have links to a host of key academic environmental departments in the US, and international sources of environmental information; as well as information on safety data sheets.
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) You can search the EPA public server for information about its services and programs, publications and contact numbers. They also provide new and highly recommended sections separately so users can rapidly update themselves.
Environmental Site - European Environment Agency
Environmental Site -Friends of the Earth Environment extensive and useful site containing information from non-governmental sources and links to other environmental sites.
Friends of the Earth comments on pollution from factories
Environmental Site - United Nations - access to other UN environment sites and links to a wide range of other sites around the world.
The Environmental Technology Best Practice Programme which supports the Environment and Energy helpline may be contacted on their website: www.envirowise.gov.uk. Free guidance can be ordered or downloaded.