Environmental guidance for your business in Northern Ireland & Scotland

Managing environmental performance

Running a business, whatever the size or type of your business, costs money and can impact on the environment. But you can take practical steps to manage your environmental performance and save money.

Good practice

Use an environmental management system

Your business can reduce its environmental impact by using an environmental management system (EMS). An EMS helps you to identify your impacts and then manage your activities, for example the energy or water you use or the waste you produce. This can help you to improve your environmental performance.

Your EMS should be appropriate to the type and size of your office activities.

For more information about how an EMS can help your office see our EMS guidance.

Environmental management systems and environmental reports

You can use the Environmental management toolkit to help manage your environmental impacts.

Northern Ireland environmental management toolkit

Scotland environmental management toolkit

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has produced a Sustainable Manufacturing Toolkit for use by businesses in the manufacturing sector.

OECD: Sustainable manufacturing toolkit

Report on your environmental performance

Your business can benefit from improving, and reporting on, its environmental performance. For example reporting will:

  • give you information about your current performance, and whether you are complying with legislation
  • identify where you could improve your activities and use resources more efficiently saving you money
  • involve your staff and help increase their environmental awareness
  • demonstrate your commitment to improving your environmental performance to your staff, customers and the public.

You should focus on how you manage your key environmental impacts, for example energy use and waste and document the progress you are making to minimise your impact.

To find out how you can measure and report on your business' environmental performance see:

Defra: Guidance on environmental reporting
Global Reporting Initiative: Small, Smart and Sustainable

Manage your purchases

You will buy a variety of goods and services as an office business, from paper to computers to catering and cleaning services.

You can reduce the environmental impact of the goods and services you purchase and could reduce your costs by following green or sustainable procurement principles.

Consider the environmental impacts during the full life cycle of a product or service when buying, including:

  • what raw materials are used to manufacture the product or provide the service
  • how the product is produced and the energy used
  • how the product or service will perform in use, eg will it use energy, water, produce waste
  • how much it will cost to dispose of the product and the environmental impacts of disposal
  • the potential for reuse or recycling the product
  • the environmental performance of your suppliers.

Before buying any goods, consider first whether the product or service needs to be bought at all.

Buying sustainable goods

Communicate with your staff

Encourage all your office staff to work together to improve your environmental performance. The day-to-day actions of your staff can significantly reduce your environmental impact. Ask someone to volunteer at your office as the environmental champion.

Engage with senior management to gain their support for environmental policies.

Raise awareness among staff about your policies and update them regularly on your progress and what you've achieved.

You can use the NetRegs e-learning tools to get a good overview of key issues. These tools are free to use and cover the essential points of each topic. They might be useful as a refresher course, or to make sure that staff  have a good understanding of their environmental responsibilities.

  • Preventing pollution – a general guide
  • Duty of care
  • Sinks, drains and sewers
  • WEEE
  • Generating renewable energy

All are available at: NetRegs e-learning tools

Additional resources

Whats new on NetRegs

  • December NetRegs Updates

    Did you miss December's NetRegs Update? You can view them here <Scotland Update> <Northern Ireland Update> or visit the updates archive pages on this website.

  • LIFE SMART Waste project news

    The latest LIFE SMART Waste e-newsletter has been published to highlight the project’s progress towards demonstrating innovative ways of understanding, tackling and reducing waste-related crime in Europe. <Read more>

  • SEPA unveils new waste to resources framework

    A new framework for tackling waste has been unveiled by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA), focussing on how SEPA will support a circular economy in Scotland.
    One Planet Prosperity – A Waste to Resources Framework

  • Waste – Duty of Care Roles and Responsibilities

    The Northern Ireland Environment Agency has published a short guide to the duty of care responsibilities including advice and information for waste producers, carriers and those accepting, storing and treating waste.

    https://www.daera-ni.gov.uk/publications/waste-duty-care-responsibilities

  • Please let us know your thoughts on our new website

    What do you think about our new and improved website. We want your feedback on what you like, what you don’t like and ways we can continue to improve the website. Follow the link to complete the very short survey: NetRegs website – User feedback

  • NEW guidance on Environmental Management Systems

    We have recently updated and improved our guidance on Environmental Management Systems (EMS). You can find the guidance via the Environmental Topics tab or alternatively select the following link Environmental Management Systems (EMS).

  • Consultation on proposed changes to the packaging recycling business targets

    See NI Future legislation or Scotland Future legislation for details of the Consultation

  • NetRegs SMEnvironment survey 2016

    NetRegs has carried out a survey of environmental awareness among SMEs. There are separate reports for Scotland and Northern Ireland.

  • NIEA Guidance - Greenfield Excavated Matrials in Construction

    NIEA and the CEF have developed a Regulatory Position to promote Sustainable re-use of natural excavated material from Greenfield sites.

    NIEA: Guidance on the Regulation of Greenfield Excavated Materials in Construction and Development

  • New GPP 2 Above Ground Oil Storage

    The replacements for the PPGs are being developed. Now available GPP 2 Above Ground Oil Storage

  • SEPA Consultation on an Intergated Authorisation Framework

    SEPA is asking for your views on the proposals for integrated authorisations.

    Consultation documents

  • GPP 24 Stables, Kennels and Catteries

    NEW GPP 24 now available: Stables, Kennels and Catteries

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Permits

NIEA - Apply online

SEPA - Application forms