A third of UK business still not tackling environmental issues



16th October 2006

UK standards body BSI calls for more businesses to go green


Going green is the new black it seems with everyone from Branson to Bono, Cameron to Cold Play talking about the environment. Yet one in three UK companies still don’t have an Environmental Management System (EMS) in place despite the potential to enhance environmental performance, corporate reputation, meet customer demand and improve the bottom line, according to a new FTSE 250 survey from the British Standards Institution (BSI).

BSI is using World Standards Day (14th October) and the 10th anniversary of the environmental standard, ISO 14001, to call for companies to look at their environmental credentials and seriously consider implementing an EMS to help monitor and improve environmental performance.

The survey showed that as many as 70% of companies are concerned about the rising cost of energy, nearly half (45%) worry about waste management and a third (30%) worry about carbon emissions. Yet nearly one third (29%) of those surveyed do not have an EMS in place. This is despite the fact that many recognise the environmental and business benefits an EMS can bring:

  • 94% recognise that it can improve environmental performance
  • 54% believe it can enhance corporate reputation
  • 1 in 10 believe it enhances competitive advantage and achieves cost savings
  • 76% believe customers will be more interested in companies with an EMS in the next 10 years.

Mike Low, Director of BSI British Standards, said:

“We all know time is running out to take action on the environment. It’s encouraging to see that companies recognise the social and business benefits of going green but we’ve clearly still got some way to go. None of us can afford to wait another 10 years when advice and guidance based on years of business experience is readily available to use now.

“Standards help organisations of any size or sector address the environmental impact of their activities, services, products and people to bring substantive environmental and financial returns. In fact, EMSs are now a prerequisite for business success as companies expect their suppliers to be environmentally responsible.”

Many of the country’s leading companies including Rolls Royce, George Wimpey and the Smiths Group already use an EMS and are recognising its increasing importance for attracting and retaining business. This is reflected in the results which showed that nearly half of companies (48%) currently require suppliers to meet environmental standards with 70% expecting them to do so in the next 10 years.

Nigel Marsh, company head of environmental management at Rolls - Royce, believes there are substantive benefits to putting in place a third party certified EMS:

“Using an environmental standard such as ISO 14001 has given us significant savings from reduction in waste and water use, as well as lower energy consumption. ISO 14001 delivers value in risk management, improved compliance and, I believe, it can be a differentiator in winning new business. Many clients now see the long term benefits of working with companies that have robust environmental management systems in place.”

- Ends -

Notes to Editors

1. Spokespeople:
Spokespeople from BSI, Rolls Royce and George Wimpey are available for interview. Please contact us using the above details.

2. About the research:
Populus, the UK’s leading business trends researcher, interviewed 100 budget holders and budget decision makers in FTSE 250 companies between 11 and 29 September 2006.

3. About BSI British Standards:
BSI British Standards is the UK’s national standards body, working with government, businesses and consumers to represent UK interests and facilitate the production of British, European and international standards to meet economic and social needs.

4. About ISO 14001:
Having started out as a BSI national standard (BS 7750) in the early nineties, ISO 14001 provides the public and private sector worldwide with a blueprint for minimising environmental impacts and achieving greater operational efficiencies. It identifies the processes or activities of an organisation that impact on the environment and provides objectives for improvement and a management program to achieve them. Its key aims are to:

  • Minimise harmful effects on the environment, caused by a companies activities.
  • Achieve continual improvement of a company’s environmental performance.
  • Enable compliance with relevant legislation.

Certifications to ISO 14001 now exceed 110,000 worldwide and take up has increased by 24% in the last year.

5. About the 10th Anniversary of ISO 14001:
BSI is marking the 10th anniversary of this standard through an award ceremony being held on 28 November in London to promote and share best practice in environmental management and to encourage organisations that are currently not implementing ISO 14001 to consider doing so by highlighting the achievements and benefits of those that have.

6. About World Standards Day:
World Standards Day has been celebrated each year on 14 October to pay tribute to the efforts of the hundreds of thousands of experts worldwide who collaborate to develop voluntary international standards that facilitate trade, spread knowledge and share technological advances. 2006 is the 37th World Standards Day.