Business start-up resources

Environmental Planning

Business green issuesOne thing that seems to concern the majority of people is how changes in the environment and government responses affect your business.

Whether governments are serious about going green and saving the planet or are just after more taxes will bear out as time progresses.

Below are areas that may affect your business from environmental factors.

The Environment and Tax

The biggest changes so far are so-called green taxes. Certainly in the UK there are higher taxes on the biggest cars that pollute the most. Even the London congestion charging zone now has an emissions zone where the largest polluting vehicles pay an additional tax to enter the city.

These tax changes have changed people's attitudes towards which cars they drive, but it also affects businesses with vans and lorries as taxes increase. The UK has some of the highest fuel taxes in the world including air passenger duty.

Other areas that have taxes include landfill taxes to discourage landfill of non-compostable waste. There's also a climate change levy which is around 5% added to energy bills. Businesses can mitigate this charge by moving to a green energy tariff that comes wholly from renewable sources. Although the costs may be higher, you can help the environment and reduce your costs. VAT is also added to this levy that is not reclaimable.

There are a few tax breaks that businesses may qualify for including land remediation relief. This tax break is for businesses that clean up contaminated land if there's a substance in, on or under the land that has the potential to do harm to humans, ecosystems or water sources.

This relief is 150% of the cost of the clean up exercise although there are conditions you should check before applying.

Other Environmental Factors

There are so many ways in which businesses can cut down on waste and usage of limited supplies of natural resources. Every department in an organisation can help including back-office functions such as accounting.

Examples include:

  • Using recycled paper rather than bleached paper.
  • Printing on both sides of a paper.
  • Using electronic mail instead of printing a document.
  • Turning off office lights and computers at night to conserve power.
  • Using LPG instead of petrol or diesel.
  • Providing incentives to staff to use public transport or cycle to work.

If every business cut waste by 10% the effect on environmental changes would be quite dramatic. It's a mindset change, for reducing our own carbon footprint and environmental impact of the way we live our lives and operate our businesses.

Generate an Environmental Policy

To show your staff and customers (and even yourself) you are serious about the environmental impact your business is making how about creating and publishing an environmental policy? An excellent site with a lot of information is this environmental policy development site with free sample policies and help and guidance to help you create a policy that means something.

Your policy will have credence if you can show management commitment, clear and achievable goals with timely updates to your staff and customers on your progress against targets.

Integrate the Environment into Your Business

The best stance is to integrate environmental thinking into all your business decisions as though it was like a financial decision. Every decision you make has a financial impact that's important and so does the environment. Think how you can reduce waste or not develop something that's going to negatively impact the environment.