Amidst all the hype about the growing adoption of green working initiatives it is often easy to forget that comprehensive environmental policies in the workplace still remain pretty rare.
Now two new surveys have highlighted the full scale of the problem, revealing that the majority of UK firms have made little or no progress in implementing green working practices.
Released earlier this week by the Labour Research Department a new survey of 500 trade union reps, three quarters of which worked in the public sector, found that just 23 percent worked in an organisation with a clear system of environmental management.
Furthermore, less than one in five had comprehensive recycling schemes in place, just 11 percent had an energy efficiency programme, and almost two thirds had done nothing to promote green transport policies.
The survey also found that where organisations were developing green workplace initiatives union reps were being largely sidelined, with less than a third claiming they have been involved in any sort of green workplace initiative.
However, the report also concluded that there is evidence that the environmental impact of offices can be limited where unions and employers work together to develop solutions. It cited several case studies of such successful co-operation including the introduction of interest free bicycle loans for staff at the University of Brighton and the installation of grey water system at the Met Office.
The LRD, which provides independent research to UK trade unions, said the research supported calls from the TUC for statutory rights for union environment reps.
The survey comes a week after a similar survey of 100 UK office managers from communication technology specialist j2 Global also revealed a lax attitude to environmental issues.
The study found that a third of firms were lacking "even the most basic green policies", such as paper recycling, while three quarters had not undertaken a "think before you print" awareness campaign.
It also found that almost half of respondents had not heard of the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) directive, which comes into affect for all firms from July.
Tim McLean of j2 Global said there was now an urgent need for employers to educate staff on the new obligations governing the safe disposal of IT kit. "Over 1 million tonnes of IT waste gets dumped in UK landfill sites every year [and] IT and electronic waste is growing at three times the rate of any other waste stream in the UK, the majority of which comes from businesses," he said. "Educating staff about the WEEE Directive is key if employers are to adhere to the new regulations and reduce the carbon footprint of their business."
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