Environmental consulting services goes beyond conducting environmental impact assessments and drafting lengthy reports. Read on to find out how environmental consulting firms have the potential to assist businesses to be more sustainable.
Not many people would associate big businesses and corporations with being environmentally friendly. Most of the largest and most well-known businesses made their fortunes by using the cheapest materials and methods, which were not necessarily the most sustainable route to take. These days, environmental legislation and regulations are forcing corporations to look at their environmental impacts – so how can environmental consulting firms help businesses become more sustainable?
What are environmental consulting services?
Environmental consultants are appointed by private and public sector clients to address any environmental or sustainability issues of a project, as well as to lessen the impact of a project on the environment by recommending mitigation measures. Environmental consultants are well-versed in environmental regulations, as well as having scientific knowledge and technical expertise. Environmental consulting firms conduct environmental impact assessments, but can also be appointed to provide advice to businesses that want to reduce their environmental footprint and improve their sustainability. Environmental consulting companies can support businesses in other sectors by tracking metrics and helping companies comply with new or unfamiliar environmental regulations.
Why is environmental consulting necessary for businesses?
Companies have a responsibility to run ethical operations. This is regulated by the corporate social responsibility (CSR) of the company. CSR is a broad concept and is implemented differently between companies, however, the common thread of CSR is that companies must be economically, socially, and environmentally sustainable. The idea of CSR in an environmental context is not new, as environmentalists have been requesting more sustainable business operations through a reduction of plastics, pollution, and carbon dioxide emissions.
Thankfully, through modern technology and the rise of social media, it has become easy to call out unsustainable corporations and make them accountable for the harm they are causing to the environment. This is where environmental consulting firms can get involved. The environmental consulting industry can advise businesses to become more sustainable, through green building, proper waste management, use of renewable energy, and reduction of pollutants and emissions.
How can environmental consulting firms help businesses be sustainable?
Environmental consulting services include meeting up with businesses that want to improve their environmental impact and advise them on areas that require work or improved management. This can include, for example, how a company utilizes and manages natural resources, like water. Environmental consultants can also investigate waste management, and noise, air, and plastic pollution. Below are some more examples of how environmental consulting firms can help businesses be more environmentally sustainable.
1. Drafting Management Plans
Once an environmental consulting firm has concluded its investigations into the operations and environmental impact of the business, action plans containing mitigation measures will be drafted that can guide the business to be more sustainable. Mitigation measures may include measures to reduce energy expenditure, recycling and reusing waste materials, or sourcing environmentally-friendly material alternatives.
2. Compliance with Environmental Laws
Environmental legislation, policies, and regulations are constantly changing, and business owners may not be well-versed in the language of the law. This makes it very difficult for businesses to remain environmentally compliant if they do not even know which regulations to comply with. Regulations differ at the Federal, State, County, and local level, and it can be confusing to figure out whether a certain regulation applies or not.
With the help from environmental consulting companies, a business owner can rest assured they are fully compliant and that they will avoid fines and penalties due to non-compliance.
3. Improving Public Image
If a business has a bad reputation due to environmental damage caused, environmental consultants can assist the business to improve their public image by showing they are doing something to address the problem. They can also provide environmental education and awareness training for their clients, to ensure environmentally-friendly practices and mitigation measures are well understood and properly implemented.
The demands of consumers are changing, and there is a need for companies that are sustainable and not causing environmental degradation. If it is public knowledge that the business is compliant with environmental regulations, then chances are more marketing opportunities will arise, and sales will increase.
4. The Business wants to “Go Green”
There is certainly a movement towards sustainability in the business sector, and companies are eager to comply with environmental regulations while improving their public image. Many companies want to “go green”, mostly due to customer demands for a greener company, but these organizations may not be certain where to start to become eco-conscious.
Being compliant with environmental regulations cannot be considered “going green” as it is required by law, therefore businesses need to (and hopefully want to) go above and beyond to reach a publicly-approved “green” or “eco-friendly” status. Environmental consulting firms can guide these companies on steps to take that go beyond the minimum legal requirements, to reach their ultimate “green” vision.
5. Improving Environmental, Health and Safety Concerns
Environmental, Health and Safety (EHS) at a workplace is regulated by the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA). Environmental consulting companies can assist businesses to comply with any OSHA regulations and requirements, which in turn will make the workplace safer for employees while minimizing environmental damage. Specifically, environmental consultants can assist with the management of toxic or hazardous waste, and ensure proper, legal disposal of these wastes.
6. Saving Money
All businesses strive to increase their income while minimizing their spending – that is in fact the reason so many successful businesses have caused environmental damage in the past. Cheaper materials that are readily available often carry a greater environmental cost.
Fortunately, environmental consulting firms can help businesses save money. This is especially prevalent in construction projects, where environmental consultants can draft plans that improve energy efficiency and promotes the reuse of materials, which will save money.
There is a worldwide push for companies to become more sustainable, due to the rise of social media and the public holding companies accountable for their pollution and environmental damage. Luckily, businesses can turn to environmental consulting firms for guidance on how to become more sustainable and environmentally-friendly, while complying with the plethora of environmental regulations. Appointing environmental consulting companies will also improve the public image of a business, as it shows they really care about the environment, which in turn may draw new clients and customers. The ultimate goal of a business is to make money, and environmental consulting firms can help companies achieve this goal, while not causing significant damage to planet Earth.
Author: Adri Meyer holds a B.Sc Conservation Ecology from Stellenbosch University and a M.Phil Marine and Environmental Law from the University of Cape Town. She has 2 years working with BirdLife South Africa, a conservation NGO, and 5 years working as an Environmental Assessment Practitioner, conducting Environmental Impact Assessments within the agriculture, housing and waste industry, and acting as an Environmental Control Officer on construction sites. She has 1 year’s experience as a content creator for several sustainability and conservation focused websites. In her free time, she volunteers at the Seabird and Penguin Rehabilitation Center (SAPREC) as well as the local Animal Welfare.
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