Promoting best environmental practice

Sharing good environmental practice
Diffusing best environmental practices
Best environmental practices will change with time in the light of technological advances, economic and social factors, as well as in the light of changes in scientific knowledge and understanding.

Best environmental practice is a process that aims at continuous improvement in environmental performance, involving all stakeholders within and outside an enterprise: working communities (employers, management, employees and their trade unions), experts in different disciplines (health promotion, occupational health, environment, safety, economics and others) and the surrounding community.

In determining what combination of measures constitute best environmental practices, in general or in individual cases, particular consideration should be given to: (a) The environmental hazard of: (i) The product; (ii) The product's production; (iii) The product's use; (iv) The product's ultimate disposal; (b) Substitution by less polluting processes or substances; (c) Scale of use; (d) Potential environmental benefit or penalty of substitute materials or activities; (e) Advances and changes in scientific knowledge and understanding; (f) Time limits for implementation; (g) Social and economic implications.

In selecting for individual cases the most appropriate combination of measures which may constitute the best environmental practice, the following graduated range of measures should be considered: (a) Provision of information and education to the public and to users about the environmental consequences of the choice of particular activities and products, their use and ultimate disposal; (b) The development and application of codes of good environmental practice which cover all aspects of the product's life; (c) Labels informing users of environmental risks related to a product, its use and ultimate disposal; (d) Collection and disposal systems available to the public; (e) Recycling, recovery and reuse; (f) Application of economic instruments to activities, products or groups of products; (g) A system of licensing, which involves a range of restrictions or a ban.

It is important to support and promote the development of and the use of BEST (Best Ecologically Sound Techniques). In the event that there is no BEST technology which can prevent the release of persistent or biaccumulative toxics then the extractive or productive activities which produce the product or substance process should be changed; the activities and product phased out/outlawed, or the demand for the product reduced through public education. In this case, the industry involved should be assisted in the conversion to alternative processes or products.

The UK Environmental Technology Best Practice Programme is currently scheduled to run until 2000, with a decline in funding thereafter to March 2002. The programme includes: a Helpline, production of benchmarking guides, case studies, and guidance on good environmental practice, provision of half-day free consultancy, and assistance to waste minimisation clubs.

The implementation of best practice requires the cooperation of professionals from a variety of different disciplines. A clear description of the training curriculum, the competence and the code of conduct of each profession will increase the efficiency of their work. The principles of quality management should be part of the education and training curricula of all professionals working in multidisciplinary occupational and environmental health teams.

The promotion of best environmental practice in transport requires the implementation of the best available technologies and best environmental and health standards, best planning methods and best practices for transport involving all relevant sectors and scientific approaches, e.g. transport and land use planners, technologists, and environmental, public health and communication experts.

Type Classification:
D: Detailed strategies
Related UN Sustainable Development Goals:
GOAL 15: Life on Land