SMEs Given New Standard to Manage their Impact on the Environment


29 April 2003

Today, Project Acorn, a unique initiative from BSI in partnership with major companies like Marks and Spencer and Biffa to promote best environmental practice for Small and Medium Sized Enterprises, enters a new phase with the launch of a new British Standard (BS 8555: 2003).

Until now the drive to make business more environmentally friendly and to develop environmental management systems has concentrated on multinationals and large companies.

This is the first time that the challenges for SMEs to manage their impact on the environment have been specifically addressed. There are over 3.7 million SMEs in the UK, and small firms (which employ fewer than 10 people) make up over 90% of all firms in the country contributing around 40% to the UK's Gross National Product (GNP).

Speaking at the launch, David Lazenby CBE, BSI's Director of Standards, said:

"The new standard will provide SMEs with a guide to how to phase in an Environmental Management System, including the use of environmental performance evaluation."

Chris Sheldon, CEO of The Acorn Trust, added:

"Any small organisation which wants to address environmental management must do so within the context of a range of other pressing business issues such as managing day-to-day operations and winning new orders.

"However an increasing number of larger companies now expect their suppliers - often SMEs - to be able to demonstrate a commitment to environmental protection. At the same time, many SMEs want to improve their environmental performance but don't know where to start.

"Recognising these factors, Acorn provides a step by step approach to environmental concerns and provides help and assistance to companies along the way.

"One way of doing this will be through the launch of a new website which will provide the groundbreaking development tools which SMEs can use and also a new national database to collect data and share best practice."

The new website, has been made possible by using funding from Biffaward, a multi-million pound environment fund, which utilises landfill tax credits donated by Biffa Waste Services.

The launch is the culmination of the Acorn Trust's work over the past twelve months, particularly the successful pilot projects with companies across industry. As the Acorn Trust enters its next phase the administration of it will transfer to the Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment (IEMA).

Speaking at the launch will be the Chairman of the Environment Agency, Sir John Harman, as well as representatives from the Acorn Trust, DTI, BSI, and companies Marks and Spencer, Aviva Plc, and Biffa Waste Services. A copy of the speaker programme is attached. For further comment or to arrange an interview please contact the BSI press office.

- Ends -

For media information:

Wilma Tulloch on +44 (0)20 8996 6330 OR
Marc Edney on +44 (0)20 8996 6330


BS 8555:2003

This is a new British Standard: BS 8555:2003 - Environmental management systems -- Guide to the phased implementation of an environmental management system including the use of environmental performance evaluation

Project Acorn / Acorn Trust

Project Acorn is a UK based nation-wide project to help SMEs to grow and develop their own environmental performance controls, built around the specific needs of their own business.

The Acorn Trust is a not for profit organisation dedicated to helping make environmental performance control accessible and profitable for smaller businesses and their customers.

For more information on the Acorn Trust visit 


In December 1997 Biffa Waste Services agreed to donate landfill tax credits to the Royal Society for Nature Conservation (RSNC) to administer under the fund name Biffaward. Grants made from the fund currently amount to more than £56 million, supporting many worthwhile environmental projects.

Biffa, part of Severn Trent plc, is one of the UK's largest waste management companies providing environmentally advanced waste recycling, handling and disposal services for industry, commerce and local government.


BSI Group believes in the universal adoption of best management practices, reduction of risk throughout the trading process and the harmonisation and acceptance of international standards by consent as a means of achieving economic prosperity and releasing the potential in all businesses to deliver excellence.

Founded in 1901 in the UK the BSI Group is now a global company made up of five complementary business units:

  • British Standards, the UK's national standards body, is based in London, UK. It creates and updates national and international standards, reflecting the needs of stakeholders, including UK businesses and consumers.
  • Business Information, a provider of information on standards and associated material.
  • Management Systems, a provider of certification to management systems is based at BSI's headquarters in the UK. Following the 2002 purchase of the North American systems assessment business of KPMG, BSI Inc, based in Reston, Virginia, is the largest company providing management systems certification in North America. Management Systems also has regional headquarters in Hong Kong to service the network of offices in the Asian-Pacific region.
  • Product Services, based in Hemel Hempstead, UK, provides product-testing and awards Kitemark registration and CE marking. The Kitemark is a BSI registered trademark.
  • Inspectorate, the leading independent inspection and analysis company, joined the BSI Group in 1998. Inspectorate has its main offices in Witham, UK; Houston, Texas and Singapore.

BSI Group is an international provider of services to businesses and other organisations. All our business units are working to the same vision of supporting business improvement and trade world-wide. Through provision of standards, technical information, systems assessment, product testing and commodity inspection services, BSI supplies vital third-party services that enable its customers to trade effectively and to improve their operations and products.

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