We’ve all seen the news reports of air pollution in China. Some days are so bad that people can’t even go outside. Indoor parks are built so that children can play without being exposed to the dangerous pollution in the air. Not surprisingly, lung cancer is an epidemic in China, where the population has been bombarded with carcinogenic toxins with every breath they take.
The threat of environmental pollution to the American population is also very real. Like China, we have many manufacturing sites that produce waste that harms our environment. There is one thing protecting Americans from an outcome similar to China: government-run environmental health and safety management. Environmental regulatory compliance is every business owner’s moral obligation, but it is also regulated by the government.
Keeping up with water and waste regulatory compliance can be a logistical nightmare. As with any bureaucratic system, there are a lot of small details that can be a hassle to track, but result in hefty fines and penalties if neglected. The best way to manage stay on the right side of environmental compliance is to follow these actionable steps:
Four Secrets for Keeping Up With Environmental Regulations
- Understand your requirements.
Sometimes the intimidating part of regulatory compliance is the mystery behind it. When you break it down into actionable steps, it’s easier to tackle each task separately and get yourself organized. If we learned anything from the story of the Tortoise and the Hare, slow and steady wins the race!
- Bring in an expert to get you up and running.
If we’re being frank, sometimes people who make the environmental regulations aren’t the ones who actually work in the industry. Sometimes the regulations don’t translate well into real-life applications. For example, in the utility industry, power companies who generate energy with coal are required to scrub a certain amount of sulfur from the coal before burning it. In theory, this is a wonderful way to reduce the amount of carbon being released into the atmosphere. But in reality, newer mining processes have enabled coal producers to provide coal that doesn’t even have the amount of sulfur in it that has to be scrubbed to burned in power generation. An environmental compliance expert who specializes in your industry can act as mediator between your company and the regulations. When you stumble upon the coal-utility quandary equivalent to meets your compliance guidelines.
- Collaborate with other businesses in your industry.
Depending on what industry you are in, you might not ever have an occasion to collaborate with a direct competitor. (Obviously, if you are in a regulated industry like utilities, you don’t really have competitors, and collaborating is pretty common). If you are in the commerce industry, it might be unlikely that you would have a meeting of the minds with other businesses that you compete with.
However, working together to identify streamlined, better ways to meet environmental compliance regulations is beneficial to all. You might not come to the table with your businesses trade secrets. But becoming environmentally compliant isn’t a competition. Everyone wins when you work together. If your industry does not work well with collaboration, bringing in a consultant, as mentioned above is the best way to go about it.
- Embrace technology
As they say, there’s an app for that. Safety/Health/Environmental applications (SHE apps) abound in the compliance industry. A good SHE app will help you map your processes and identify areas where action is required to get in compliance. Once the SHE app captures your business processes, it creates reminders when it’s time to perform an audit or submit a form. Many businesses find that once they’ve installed a SHE app, there is very little effort required to remain in compliance.
No matter what industry you are in, environmental awareness is every person’s responsibility. Every decision your business makes impacts the planet we all love, the water we all drink, and the air we all breath. The factors that go into making sure your business practices are environmentally friendly are expansive. Our federal government is doing a good job trying to standardize environmental compliance, but meeting their regulations adds an extra layer of effort for businesses. Following these steps will help you meet government regulations, regardless of what industry you’re in.