Business doing better on environmental performance

An Environment Agency report published today (November 24) finds that overall industry has improved its environmental performance despite challenging economic times.

The Greener Business report also focuses on poor performance of some industries, especially waste firms, which had the most serious pollution incidents in the sectors regulated by the Agency.

The report covers England and Wales and reveals that the majority of operators are doing well. More than half (55 per cent) of the sites regulated by the Environment Agency achieved the top ‘A’ rating, up from 47 per cent last year.

Industrial sites are inspected by the Environment Agency and rated on a scale from A to E for their environmental performance and management. Nearly nine out of ten were in the top two bands.

Environment Agency chief executive, Dr Paul Leinster said: “Our analysis shows that most companies have a good environmental record, despite the difficult economic conditions. And serious pollution incidents have reduced significantly in the last five years.

“Green business is good business because it can help reduce costs and enhances reputation with customers.”

However, waste operators were doing less well. Waste sites were found to have the most serious pollution incidents, causing around half of all the serious incidents occurring on regulated sites. The North East area had the worst record in 2009.

Illegal waste activity, the Agency says, is a serious risk to the environment and has identified over 800 illegal sites, many of which are operating closet to schools, homes or sensitive environmental sites.

The Environment Agency pledged to crackdown on illegal sites and urged all waste producers to take responsibility for ensuring they deal only with legitimate waste and skip companies.

Dr Paul Leinster said: “We will continue to target the poor performing companies and illegal activities that cause damage to the environment and pose a risk to communities.

“There are still too many pollution incidents in the waste industries and we will be working with companies to clean up their act.

“We’ll continue to take a zero-tolerance approach to illegal waste sites. We have stopped activities on 2,000 sites in the last two years, but continue to work with the police and other agencies to gather intelligence and target these illegal operations.

“However, producers of waste; businesses, public sector organisations, local authorities and householders also have a role to play by making sure their waste goes only to legitimate and licensed waste management operators”.

The report also looks at emissions from industry associated with global warming and found that they have fallen sharply in the energy sector.
The energy sector is still the biggest source of emissions from regulated sites, with 75 per cent of greenhouse gases, 82 per cent of nitrogen oxides and 75 per cent of sulphur oxides. Each of these has reduced substantially over the last decade and the energy sector is well-managed.

The Environment Agency will be focusing its regulatory efforts on working with the poorest performing sectors and organisations to provide advice and guidance and will carry out more regular inspections of such sites.

Those organisations that perform well will have fewer inspections, which, the Environment Agency says, will reduce the administrative burden and associated costs.

Alison Brown

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