As an environmental research organisation we consider it essential that we are aware of the environmental implications of our own day-to-day activities and minimising our impacts as much as possible. We recognise our responsibility to reduce our greenhouse gas and other emissions and are working to make sustainable practices and high environmental awareness a norm.
To ensure we are doing this in a systematic manner, we have recently decided to seek certification under the EU Eco-management and Audit Scheme (EMAS) by the end of 2011. To achieve this goal, we are accessing support from Global Action Plan, who are providing an excellent free service to help small businesses reduce their carbon emissions. Initially we will implement the system in our London office, before moving it to our Brussels office, as the support only applies to UK-based businesses. This will allow us to test the system first before then training our Brussels staff. The system will require a new approach to identifying priorities and developing policies, which we will develop over the next 5 months between June and October. Nonetheless, we already have been recording our principle impacts and already have a number of policies in place, which are detailed below.
Our aim is to continually improve our environmental performance through minimising resource consumption, reducing waste, reusing and recycling materials, and considering sustainable practices when choosing suppliers and partners. We are committed to complying with all relevant environmental legislation.
Our most significant environmental impacts are:
Emissions into the atmosphere from the use of carbon-based energy in offices and fuel in transport for work-related travel;
Consumption of resources by our use of raw materials, office supplies and furniture;
Production of waste materials;
The environmental performance of our suppliers and partners.
- We are committed to reducing the total amount of travel through the use of new technologies and through developing virtual meeting facilities;
- We encourage the use of available low impact travel for daily home-work commuting. This is done through public transport loans, a 'no company car' policy, and bicycle schemes in both Brussels and London offices;
- We have flexible working practices to reduce the need to travel to work and during work, including significant recent investment in remote access to email and computer servers;
- Train travel is strongly preferred over other modes of longer distance transport and is used exclusively on the most important routes used by staff, e.g. between Brussels, London and Paris. We are currently reviewing our policies (as part of our EMAS certification process) on rail and air travel in light of newly collected data on the emissions associated with our travel.
Keep energy use to a minimum by doing the following:
- Efficient use of heating systems and proper insulation in the offices; using natural light and ventilation where possible;
- Purchase low-energy equipment, particularly in computers and lighting;
- Turn off all equipment when not in use.
As a policy institute, much of IEEP's work involves the generation of reports or other potentially paper-based outputs; we similarly receive many printed books and reports and maintain a small paper-based library. Recognising the material, energy and pollution impacts of paper creation and use, our policy is to:
- Minimise paper usage, primarily through the increasing sophistication of electronic document creation, exchange and archiving;
- Re-use paper wherever possible;
- Use 100% recycled paper for all documents;
- Print double-side and two per page for internal or rough copies of documents;
- Recycle all paper when not reusable;
- Stop unwanted material being sent to IEEP.
As for the remaining office supplies and equipment we:
- Re-use office supplies (folders, envelopes, etc.) as long as they remain fit for use;
- Recycle materials, including toner cartridges, glass, etc;
- Arrange regular servicing of machinery to ensure operation at maximum efficiency, and minimal adverse impact;
- Try to minimise the use of supplies;
- Favour purchasing environmentally friendly products;
- Provide vegetarian catering at our events in the Brussels and London offices (this policy is being reviewed in light of new information on the carbon emissions associated with the food supply chain);
- Maintain staff awareness and involvement with regular in-house debates on various environmental subjects (e.g. the environmental impacts of travel and of meat consumption).
To deliver this Policy we are committed to doing the following:
- Keep improving our environmental performance and measure our progress regularly;
- Actively communicate our commitment to our partners, suppliers and stakeholders;
- Inform and educate our staff regarding the environmental effects of their activities through a new educational initiative during the summer of 2011 and maintain involvement at every level of the organisation;
- Comply with relevant environmental legislation and keep up-to-date with the developments in sustainable practices;
- Become an EMAS certified organisation in 2011 in our London office and begin training of staff in the Brussels office with a view to become fully EMAS certified in 2012.
This Policy will be reviewed after five months on 31.10.2011.