Recent years have seen a far greater focus on legislation as a means of enforcing environmental policy. Knowing what your obligations are and the options for complying with the legislation is essential, but can be a challenge. We’ve drawn together some useful resources which help you become better informed on this topic.

You can discuss compliance issues in our Compliance Forum.


COSHH is the law that requires employers to control substances that are hazardous to health. Sometimes substances are easily recognised as harmful, but substances such as paint, bleach or dust from natural materials may also be harmful.

A best practice guide can be found here:

CRC Energy Efficiency Scheme


The CRC is a mandatory scheme that aims to improve energy efficiency and cut emissions in large public and private sector organisations, who are together responsible for around 10% of the UK’s emissions.The scheme features reputational, behavioural and financial drivers which aim to encourage organisations to develop energy management strategies and promote a better understanding of energy usage.

Organisations are eligible for CRC if they (and their subsidiaries) have at least one half-hourly electricity meter (HHM) settled on the half-hourly market. Organisations that consumed more than 6,000 megawatt-hours (MWh) per year of half hourly metered electricity during 2008 qualify for full participation and were required to register with the Environment Agency, which is the administrator for the scheme .Organisations that do not meet the 6000MWh threshold but have half hourly meters still have to make an information disclosure of their electricity consumption but are not liable to pay for carbon credits.

Qualifying organisations have to comply legally with the scheme or face financial and other penalties.

Full details of the scheme can be found here

Are you ready? - CBI warns many businesses are unaware of CRC scheme

Are you affected?

Following the launch of the Government’s Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC) consultation, the CBI warned that many businesses will be unaware and unprepared for the scheme and called on the government to do more to prepare industry for the "shock" of green regulation.  With only one-third of the affected organisations registered three months after the beginning of the scheme in April 2010, it seems these fears may be realised. 

The Carbon Reduction Commitment is designed to tackle CO2 emissions not already covered by Climate Change Agreements and the EU Emissions Trading System. It aims to help reduce the country’s carbon footprint to deliver the ambitious emissions reduction targets set in the Government’s Climate Change Act. It is a domestic cap-and-trade scheme for public and private sector organisations that use more that 6,000MWH of energy per year – equivalent to an energy bill of about £500k – and have half hourly metering. although only around 2,000 organisations will be required to participat in the purchase of carbon allowances, a much greater number will be required to register because they have half-hourly meters installed, even though they don't exceed the energy consumption threshhold. Fines apply to all organisations that don't register.

Under the scheme, companies must purchase allowances depending on how much carbon they intend to emit – initially at a fixed price predicted to be £12 per tonne. Eventually the total number of allowances available to purchase will be capped, to provide a mechanism to drive down energy consumption, and the carbon price will float. Savings of £1bn in energy costs by 2020 are projected for the participants, but those who don’t curb their emissions will be hit by penalties including monetary fines and a poor ranking in the scheme’s league table. Those who top the league tables will receive financial incentives.

The Carbon Reduction Commitment will be phased in between 2010 and 2013 and although capping will not apply until allowance auctioning starts in 2013 it is widely accepted that adapting early to the legislation offers both financial and reputation benefits. A user guide has been published for those organisations who want to learn more.


The EU has published a strategy for Corporate Social Responsibility; its principles are expected to filter through to UK public sector procurements over the coming months. You can read it here

Climate Change Act 2008

A unilateral statutory commitment to 80% greenhouse gas reduction by 2050

The Climate Change Act was passed on 26th November 2008 and includes the following provisions:

In passing the Act, the UK became the first country to commit to a unilateral target for reduction of greenhouse gases that is line with the expert opinion on what is needed to avoid irreversible global warming. The Climate Change Act 2008

EU Energy Using Products Directive

Directive on the Eco-design Requirements for Energy-using Products (EuPs)

The Directive aims to encourage manufacturers to produce energy using products that are designed to minimise their overall environmental impact, including the resources consumed in their production and disposal. Where the manufacturer is not established and in the absence of an authorised representative, it is the responsibility of the importer to ensure that the marketed EuP complies with this Directive and the applicable implementing measure.

The legislation is being implemented in stages, working on product segments referred to as Lots. In the majority of cases the legislation will be mandated, but in the case of set-top boxes and imaging equipment (ie printers, copiers and multifunctional devices) a Voluntary Agreement is being developed by industry; this will carry the same level of obligation as legislation. The voluntary agreement of imaging equipment comes into play in January 2011 and Kyocera Mita UK is among the signatories.

Defra manages this workstream under its Market Transformation Programme.

Hazardous Waste

The Hazardous Waste (England and Wales) Regulations were last amended in March 2011. In summary, the regulations implement the revised Waste Framework Directive and: 

Article 4 of the revised EU Waste Framework Directive (Directive 2008/98/EC) set out five steps for dealing with waste, ranked according to environmental impact – the ‘waste hierarchy’. Prevention, which offers the best outcomes for the environment, is at the top of the priority order, followed by preparing for re-use, recycling, other recovery and disposal, in descending order of environmental preference.

Stages Include
Prevention: Using less material in design and manufacture. Keeping products for longer; re-use. Using less hazardous materials
Preparing for re-use: Checking, cleaning, repairing, refurbishing, whole items or spare parts
Recycling: Turning waste into a new substance or product. Includes composting if it meets quality protocols
Other recovery: Includes anaerobic digestion, incineration with energy recovery, gasification and pyrolysis which produce energy (fuels, heat and power) and materials from waste; some backfilling
Disposal: Landfill and incineration without energy recovery

The provisions relating to the hierarchy (set out at in Regulations 12, 15 and 35) came into force on 28 September 2011. Defra's advice on the waste hierarchy are here:

Full explanation of the Hazardous Waste legislation can be found here:



REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and Restriction of Chemicals) is a European Community regulation that came in to force on the 1st of June 2007. It was introduced to regulate the manufacture, supply and use of chemicals.

Under REACH all chemical substances that are marketed in quantities of one tonne or more per year will need to be registered with the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) in Finland. The Regulation gives greater responsibility to industry to manage the risks from chemicals and to provide safety information on the substances. Manufacturers and importers will be required to gather information on the properties of their chemical substances, which will allow their safe handling, and to register the information in a central database run by the ECHA. It also requires that users (who are not the manufacturer) of chemicals check that the use of the chemicals they are using has been assessed. If the use has not been assessed they must either stop using the chemical or they must make sure the chemical gets assessed either by informing the supplier of the use or by conducting an assessment themselves. The Regulation also calls for the progressive substitution of the most dangerous chemicals when suitable alternatives have been identified.

You can find all the relevant information here.

WEEE Directive

The Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive (WEEE Directive) was introduced into UK law in January 2007 by the Waste Electronic and Electrical Equipment Regulations 2006. It aims to reduce the amount of electrical and electronic equipment being produced and to encourage everyone to reuse, recycle and recover it. It also aims to improve the environmental performance of businesses that manufacture, supply, use, recycle and recover electrical and electronic equipment.

Importers, rebranders or manufacturers of new electrical or electronic equipment,need to comply with the UK's WEEE Regulations, which in part implement the WEEE Directive by registering on a producer compliance scheme.

If your business or organisation uses electronic equipment, then your supplier will need to arrange collection and safe disposal of that equipment when supplying you with new products as follows:

Business EEE from products put on the market after 13 August 2005

Manufacturers, retailers, branders and importers of EEE are responsible for financing the collection, treatment, recovery and disposal of the EEE that they supply to businesses. The directive allows producers and businesses to agree alternative financing arrangements. This is a commercial decision and is likely to form part of the normal negotiating processes for supply contracts in the future.

Business EEE from products put on the market before 13 August 2005

Different arrangements apply for WEEE arising from products put on the market before 13 August 2005 (known as historic WEEE). If historic WEEE from businesses is being replaced by new equivalent products, the EEE producer is responsible for financing the collection, treatment, recovery and disposal when supplying the new products. In other cases, for example where the historic WEEE is not being replaced, the end user (the business) has to pay.

A full explanation of the WEEE Directive, aimed at businesses, is here:


From 28th September 2011 it became a legal obligation to follow the waste hierarchy when choosing a waste option, and show you have done so when you transfer your waste to another business.

The waste hierarchy duty applies to both hazardous and non-hazardous waste.

You should consider each of the following five steps in turn so as to choose the least environmentally damaging method of handling waste:

You can find full details of the legislation here

Compliance Resources

There are various government-sponsored resources aimed at helping organisations of all sizes understand and comply with environmental legislation. Here are just a few:

Greenhouse Gas Conversion Factors- guidance on how to translate your energy savings into greenhouse gas equivalents for reporting purposes.

Netregs- a website compiled by the Environment Agency to provide free environmental guidance for small and medium sized businesses.

Business Link- the government website that assists with information and support on compliance (link goes to the environment section, but all aspects of legislation for business are covered elsewhere on the site).