Both. Actually, there are a few management terms that could be applied to our new sustainability policy. Mission statement (ugh!) being one of them! Over the years I've implemented a number of environmental management systems to the ISO 14001 standard and each time debated the difference between policies, principles, strategies, guidance, good practice, procedures, objectives and targets. Each time I've written policies that I've then fought to implement and report against. Each time I've asked myself what's the point? Surely you just assess your impacts, pick the most significant and set targets to reduce them?
Well, yes. And, no. Writing a policy for an organisation that has well established products that are unlikely to change much, like a utility company or university, is straight forward. But, Plate 2 Plate Compost is new (ish) and all new businesses can go off in any direction. I think that is why it has taken four years to write it. I'm reasonably certain that our core business is compost, but I have some other ideas as well (see facebook posts on avocado stones). I've supported community schemes, but at a cost to Plate 2 Plate, and I've wrestled with being a Community Interest Company (CIC).
I now know what I want to do and how I want to do it. Plate 2 Plate Compost is a business and it must wash it's face financially, I want it to have a positive impact on society, the environment and economy and I want to show that sustainability is a viable business model.
This is scary though. Why? Because it's my policy. I don't have to fight someone to implement it. If it doesn't happen it's my fault. I haven't used words that will allow me to squeeze out of the commitments made, for example, words or phrases like endeavour, look to, where appropriate, etc. Instead the word 'will' is used (a lot). Every single commitment is something I want to achieve, it sets out how I want to run my business and now it's out there for you, our customers, to hold me to. No going back now.
Being a policy, it is missing one thing. Timescales. They aren't there. All of the commitments fall into the short, medium and long term. I'm just not sure which. In my mind long term is 5 years before everything is complete. I'll go through the policy on a yearly bases and literally tick off the ones we've achieved. But, if it takes a bit longer I'm not going to beat myself up over it. The main thing is that they get done.
So, here it is. Please let me know what you think.