In a formally managed entity, the environmental policy is the driver for implementing and improving the organization's environmental management system so that it can maintain and potentially improve its environmental performance.
The policy should reflect the commitment of top management to compliance with applicable laws, other requirements and continual improvement.
In a small, informally managed business, the driver for starting an EMS is more often driven by the owner's belief that he or she needs to and can do a better job of marrying growth of the business while protecting the environment. This vision may be spurred by thoughts around the legacy of the business, the desire to make this legacy positive and a close tie to the growing green interests of their community. This vision is then captured into a policy, covering the same commitments.
It starts the small business on a path to increased formality, which small business experts concur can bring improvements in productivity, probability and prosperity.
Policies form the basis upon which the organization sets its objectives and targets, which are developed after identifying the environmental aspects that have significant impacts. Aspects are the things you have or do that lead to impacts on the environment.
The policy should be clear enough to be understood by internal and external interested parties. As ISO 14001 requires that the policy is available to the public, 14000registry requires that organizations submit their environmental policy for publication along with their posting.