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Feature: Compulsive reading

Seeking to quash the idea that 'business has nothing to do with the environment', Stewart Anthony's The Environment - What Every Business Needs To Know is a handy manual for quick and easy reference on all things environmental.

Anthony stresses that the book is not meant to be read from cover to cover, but should be dipped into for bite-size explanations on how environmental issues currently, and may in the future, affect organisations, identify where businesses can go to find out more about particular issues and the general and specific help that is available.

The chapters contain the background to each environmental issue and how it relates to businesses, especially SMEs. It then tackles what businesses need to do to address the issue, including case studies, suggested strategies, important actions and potential difficulties and benefits. For further sources of help and information, there is a list of organisations, websites and contacts that will be able to help out SMEs.

In specifically targeting SMEs, the book is not preaching to the seemingly converted - i.e. the huge chains - that are already being seen to do the right thing under the banner of 'corporate social responsibility', but is addressing the concerns of smaller companies worried that they will, effectively, be outpriced by becoming environmentally aware.

As businesses now pay more than ever for waste removal, The Environment explains how UK businesses can become more efficient and therefore more profitable by managing the environmental pressures that are currently, or will shortly be, affecting them.

Anthony says that a common concern among SMEs is that making environmental improvements will cost money and make the company uncompetitive. Subsequently, some have commented that, if they are pushed too far, the company will move its operations overseas where the constraints are reduced. Less dramatically, some simply claim that they do not have the spare staff to undertake some of the necessary steps.

The book does not take a lecturing high ground, but provides a sound rationale as to why business needs to step up to its role in helping to protect and improve the environment.

In the chapter dedicated to waste, there is a simple model by which companies can calculate the amount of waste they produce with a simple walk through of the various departments.

A case study of a small company illustrates how, by examining its waste and cutting out paper, boxes and plastic containers, it achieved a 50% reduction in its waste disposal costs and saved a similar amount on packaging costs within two months.

Subsequent chapters covering packaging, energy, water and air, design, purchasing and supply, and design and management of buildings and spaces provide equally easy to follow suggestions to help meet environmental efficiency.

The Environment - What Every Business Needs to Know can be ordered from Middlesex University Press online at or by calling 020 8411 5734

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