Complete Guide to Business Environmental Regulatory Compliance
Climate change is considered the biggest existential threat ever faced in human history. It affects every living person and every country. Therefore, efforts to mitigate catastrophe can’t be further delayed.
In 2019, the Emissions Gap report found that to keep global temperatures from going up to more than 1.5 degrees Celsius; we need to reduce total emissions by 7.6% every year until the year 2030. It becomes the responsibility of all organizations within goods-producing industries to work towards reducing their environmental impact and protecting the resources we still have.
What is environmental and regulatory compliance? They refer to the laws, standards, and guidelines used to regulate businesses’ operations. The last few years have seen an increased passing of federally mandated regulations related to the environment.
Read on to discover how to prepare your business to maintain regulatory compliance in efforts to make industries greener.
Why We Need Business Environmental Regulatory Compliance
The production of goods has a major impact on the environment. It takes a lot of natural resources to make products and synthetic materials and the machines that produce them. The Industrial Revolution birthed mass production, which accelerated scientific and social advancements.
Because of this, for the last 250 years or so, rates of industrial output have skyrocketed. People consumed more, which led to businesses using more resources to meet rising demands and make a profit. Large corporations were doing this unchecked for decades which caused the climate change crisis we face today.
Concerns about how human industry would harm the planet started as early as 1962 when scientist Rachel Carson published “Silent Spring.” She showed some of the earliest documented evidence of pollution harming water systems and animal populations because of the agriculture industry’s excessive use of pesticides.
She called attention to how technology was disrupting ecosystems and would eventually cause permanent damage.
Global Commitments to Reduce Emissions
By 1988, climate change became a center-stage political issue because of the gradual rise in global temperatures. This came about as a consequence of the weakening of the Earth’s ozone layer. The sense of urgency about the potential of climate disasters found its way into public awareness.
Governments started to discuss how to regulate industries to make them more sustainable.
The first agreement to reduce emissions through regulatory compliance came about in 1997 with the Kyoto Protocol. Even though President Bill Clinton signed this agreement, which was a commitment to lower greenhouse gas levels by 2012, President George W. Bush pulled the US out of the agreement due to concerns over the economy.
This would happen again with the 2015 Paris Agreement. President Barack Obama, along with 197 other countries, committed to implementing their own regulations to reduce emissions. The goal was to make sure global temperatures would not rise more than 2 degrees Celsius.
President Donald Trump immediately pulled the US out of this agreement after his election in 2016.
Understanding Environmental and Regulatory Compliance
To commit to reducing emissions and preserving natural resources, the federal government has passed different laws and regulations. Federal laws set standards that companies must follow in their business practices. It refers to a legal requirement to go green.
Some of the laws that have been passed over the years in the US include the following:
- Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA)
- Clean Water Act (CWA)
- Clean Air Act (CAA)
- Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA)
These laws put the responsibility on companies to make sure they follow these regulations so that they have a reduced impact on the environment, make better use of resources, and mitigate the harm caused by hazardous materials. Laws exist to regulate processes like how those hazardous materials are disposed of and handled.
Most corporations see these federal mandates as a burden. However, non-compliance carries serious consequences. For instance, companies that fail to meet certain regulatory standards have to undergo investigations and potentially pay hefty fines.
Failure to follow regulatory compliance practices due to neglect and cutting corners also makes companies look very bad in the public eye.
How to Create an Environmental and Regulatory Policy Business Plan
It takes a lot of work for businesses to set up practices to reduce their impact on air emissions and water contamination. Fundamentally changing processes at every level of production also involves setting up protocols to ensure business practices stay compliant.
Keeping track of your company’s regulatory processes might involve assistance from third-party organizations. These agents perform some of the following tasks, including:
- On-site inspections
- Data collection
Sometimes companies can work with inspectors off-site with the following processes:
- Reporting audits
- Public records review
- Special programs
Your business also can put systems in place that ensure you have the most up-to-date information and that your staff remains fully educated about compliance regulations, as well as methods for keeping track of compliance. Understanding the environmental regulation policy serves as the most critical undertaking.
There are several ways your business can be informed about policies as well as policy updates:
- Employee and manager training about environmental policies
- Getting staff members the credentials to perform audits
- Keep information posted on-site in work areas as reminders
- Assigning managers to do oversight
One main way to keep staff informed includes making public information available in these ways:
- Brochures, flyers, and pamphlets
- Posters and infographics
- Online content like blog posts and email newsletters
Different Ways that Businesses Can Stay Compliant
Compliance is just a part of doing business. Whether business owners do it begrudgingly or not, multiple compliance systems operate to keep businesses up to code. Different types of compliance include the following:
- Regulatory compliance
- Data Compliance
- Health and safety compliance
Following environmental policies requires the above forms of compliance practices in some form or another.
Regulatory compliance refers to the laws and regulations for how businesses perform operations. To protect the environment, companies must constantly keep their production and use of resources in check and follow laws that have been put in place to prevent further environmental damage.
Data compliance controls laws centering on how businesses collect data and store and maintain database records. This is for tracking operations to make sure they are environmentally friendly. Data gives references for audits and thorough oversight.
Finally, health and safety compliance measures put protocols in place to protect employees from harm. They also keep the surrounding communities protected. For environmental regulations, this means safety protocols surrounding pollution prevention and handling hazardous materials. The main goal is to reduce harm and environmental impact.
Take Steps to Help the Environment
Business environmental regulatory compliance is one of the most critical steps businesses in the goods industries can take. It’s not just about avoiding trouble and staying in business; it’s about protecting future generations and the one planet we call home.
Contact Atlantic Environmental to learn how we help companies follow environmental policies.