Environmental policy


This document sets out the environmental management policy of the Scottish Law Commission. It has been prepared in response to a request from Scottish Ministers that public bodies put such policies in place. It is intended to be both a statement of our commitment and guidance for new and existing staff.

At the Scottish Law Commission we have carried out environmental audits to establish where we are in terms of our environmental performance. The information gathered has and will be used to set annual objectives and targets in areas such as waste minimisation, paper and water use, and energy efficiency. Improving environmental performance requires changes in the way we carry out our day to day business, which must nevertheless be consistent with our health and safety obligations, and also requires the support of every member of staff. We have already introduced a re-cycling scheme for paper, toner cartridges etc.

A summary of our specific objectives and targets for 2015-16 is set out in the appendix to this document. The policy and its specific objectives and targets will be kept under regular review by the Commission.

Climate change

Climate change is considered to be one of the biggest environmental issues facing the world today. The UK has signed up to the Kyoto Protocol and is firmly committed to tackling climate change. The Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009 has introduced a statutory target to reduce Scotland's greenhouse gas emissions by 42% by 2020 and 80 per cent by 2050. In common with other public bodies in Scotland the Commission must aim to take appropriate steps to act sustainably and contribute to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, eg by minimising our energy use.


Since the commencement of the Nature Conservation (Scotland) Act 2004, all public bodies in Scotland have been subject to a statutory duty to further the conservation of biodiversity. The Commission is now required to take its impact on biodiversity into account in all aspects of its decision-making. The Commission's law reform functions themselves are unlikely to have implications for biodiversity (unless for example a law reform project were reviewing some aspect of environmental law). The duties do, however, impact on aspects of the Commission's operations such as purchasing of supplies, disposal of waste, use of paper, and water and energy resources.


The Commission purchases the majority of its products and services through collaborative contracts of the Scottish Procurement Directorate (SPD). These contracts are for general use by the Scottish Government, Government Agencies, NDPBs, Associated Departments and the wider Scottish public sector. At present, the Commission uses such contracts for the supply of its electricity, water & sewerage services, taxi services, travel, IT consumables, paper, stationery and furniture.

To be awarded contracts by SPD, the contractors have to comply with a number of conditions in relation to their environmental performance. Further information can be found in the Scottish Government's Sustainable Procurement Action Plan for Scotland.

The availability of collaborative contracts of SPD and the nature of the Commission's work means that we have no need to put out to tender contracts for the supply of goods and services whose value would equal or exceed current EU Procurement Directive thresholds. If we did, we would comply with SPD's Procurement Policy Manual.


The amount of waste the Commission transfers to landfill sites has been measured. The data collected indicates that there is limited scope for setting meaningful reduction targets by volume. However, we believe we can further reduce the amount disposed of by continuing to review our current practice and by employing the 4 R's - Repair, Reduce, Re-use and Recycle – whenever possible. Recycling schemes for cardboard, paper, toner cartridges, food tins, aluminium cans, glass, plastic bottles and plastic vending cups are already in place.  Recycling of food waste has been investigated, however the costs of doing this in such a small office would outweigh any benefits.

We have cancelled our subscription to daily newspapers resulting in even less recyclable waste being sent for disposal. We have donated superseded books from our law library for re-use in Malawi and in Zambia. Superseded computer hardware is disposed of responsibly in accordance with Scottish Government protocols. We aim to reuse or recycle surplus office furniture. Disposal of waste to landfill should be a last resort after all the above options have been pursued. We will introduce more schemes, when and if available, through Changeworks, our current  provider of waste management.

OBJECTIVE: to reduce further the amount of waste being transferred to landfill sites and increase the proportion of waste which is reused and recycled.


For in-house printing and photocopying paper the Commission uses 100% recycled paper.

The Commission's Discussion Papers, Reports and other publications are currently published by TSO.  We introduced recycled paper for our publications some years ago: for the covers we now use 75% recycled paper and for the text we use 100% recycled paper manufactured from post consumer waste pulp bleached using a chlorine free process. The papers have FSC, ISO 14001 and ISO 9706 accreditation. For the text of our Annual Reports we use 75% recycled paper (the highest percentage suitable for reproducing high quality photographs).  We also use recycled paper for our printed stationery whenever possible.

The Commission is currently reviewing its policy of publishing hard copies of Reports and Discussion Papers  and will consider the potential for publishing online where possible in the future.

The Commission’s news Bulletin issued twice a year is distributed as an e-Bulletin by e-mail only.

Paper carries a cost both in terms of purchasing and disposal that can be minimised through reduction in use, re-use and recycling. We will aim to reduce significantly the cost and amount of paper being used by following standard conservation guidelines in our day to day work. In particular we will:

  • ensure photocopying is produced double-sided and on recycled paper whenever possible.
  • use double-sided printing where possible and reuse paper for single-sided printing where feasible.
  • cancel junk mail and unwanted publications.
  • reduce printing orders for publications by periodically reviewing core distribution lists and by regularly up-dating databases. The major review which we carried out in 2012 resulted in significant reductions in 2012-13.
  • produce printed stationery in-house to reduce wastage by tailoring volume more closely to need.
  • use electronic communication where possible to reduce printing and refrain from printing unless absolutely necessary.
  • collect all paper that has been printed on one side and re-use it for printing in draft or for scrap message pads.
  • re-use envelopes where possible, especially for internal mail within the Commission and with the Scottish Government; otherwise, recycle used envelopes.
  • place all waste paper (white and coloured), including the contents of junk mail, in the recycling bins provided.. Any cardboard will be collected by the messenger and sent for recycling. Confidential paper will be shredded and sent for recycling. Old telephone directories will be collected and sent for recycling.

OBJECTIVE: to reduce the amount of paper used in the office

TARGET: to hold or reduce the consumption of A3 and A4 paper in the office in  2015-16 in comparison with  2014-15 level


The Government's current guidelines advise that in a good practice office building the level of water consumption per person per year should be around 7.7m3 (7700 litres).  Our aim is to further reduce consumption and we hope to achieve this by conserving water where possible by means of the following measures:

  • ensuring that taps (especially hot water taps) are turned off properly and not dripping
  • filling and boiling kettles no more than is required each day
  • economic use of water when hand-washing, dishwashing and showering.

We have already introduced a dual flush system in all of the toilets. We have also replaced the existing mains water supply pipe with a smaller gauge pipe to reduce consumption further.

We replaced our bottled water dispensers with plumbed-in dispensers in order to reduce the detrimental environmental impact caused by the production and transportation of bottled water. We recognise that this will not lead to a decrease in our consumption of water. However, we decided that the overall environmental benefits of using plumbed-in dispensers outweigh any disadvantages, and we are still confident that our other water conservation measures will allow us to meet our target on consumption.

OBJECTIVE: to monitor water usage

TARGET: to reduce as far as practicable the level of our water consumption in  2015-16 to achieve the good practice benchmark of 7.7m3.


Due to the nature of the building and the heating system, the Commission's office is expensive to heat. However we make savings by switching off heating during the summer months. In addition, we aim to reduce our electricity consumption and consequently our CO2 emissions by following some simple guidelines:


  • room thermostats have been set at the reduced level of 19°
  • windows should not be opened when the heating is on unless absolutely necessary
  • turn down thermostats on hot water tanks where compatible with health and safety requirements


  • natural light should be used whenever possible
  • A "switch off" campaign is running to encourage staff to switch off their lights during the day whenever possible.

Office equipment:

  • All office machinery, including PC monitors, should be switched off when not in use, with the exception of photocopiers which take some time to warm up. In addition, all workstation PCs, including monitors and printers, should be shut down as well as switched off at the wall sockets at night where practicable.
  • Identify little used or redundant machinery for disposal or relocation within the office in order to reduce running costs and maximise operating efficiency
  • Our PCs run software which automatically shuts the machine down at 7 pm each night, should it accidentally have been left on.


  • We changed our web host to one which uses liquid rather than air cooling to reduce server temperatures. This is estimated to be 30% more energy-efficient than the equivalent air cooling.

The Commission has a programme to replace existing lights with more energy-efficient fluorescent tubes (T8s) when they fail; and to take into account energy consumption and green credentials when buying new equipment (following Scottish Government purchasing policy). We have fitted draught exclusion on all exterior doors, and installed a timer on the water immersion heater. All windows are double glazed.

Due to the complexity of our electricity metering system it has not so far been possible to monitor consumption reliably.

OBJECTIVES: To continue to monitor electricity consumption by use of the monthly meter readings in order to try to identify trends and the scope for savings – figures show that each year 2012-13, 2013-14 and 2014-15 a slight decrease in usage has been recorded on the previous year.


To contribute to an increase in sustainable travel, both for commuting and business, Commission staff are encouraged to consider whether their journey to work or any journey they have to make within Edinburgh on Commission business could be undertaken by bus, cycle or on foot rather than by taxi or their own car or, failing that, whether any informal car-sharing arrangement with a colleague would be possible. For making local deliveries we normally use cycle couriers.

Staff are encouraged to use  telephone conferencing and the Scottish Government’s video conferencing facilities, where possible, to reduce the need to travel.  In 2015 we purchased a Polycom SoundStation 2 conference phone for this purpose.

We make eligible staff aware that the Scottish Government offers free purchasing advances for annual travel tickets, bicycles and accessories. Shower facilities are available on the 3rd floor. Although no bicycle parking rack is available, bikes can be kept in the south stairwell of the building. Even if it is not feasible for some staff to give up the car for commuting to and from work, "green driving" techniques can make a difference to fuel consumption and we encourage their use.

Our separate travel plan gives fuller details of these measures.

OBJECTIVE: - to encourage greater use of audio and video conferencing in order to reduce the need for travel.

Environmental management system

The induction for new members of staff includes information on the Commission's environmental policy. All staff will be brought up to date regularly on environmental issues through our redeveloped intranet, and other relevant material will be circulated for information when appropriate.

A quarterly reminder will be sent to all staff to make them aware of the importance of good environmental management


If you have any comments to make on the policy or any further suggestions as to how we can improve our environmental performance, please use the contact us page to contact the Environmental Strategy team.

Useful links



To reduce further the amount of waste being transferred to landfill sites and increase the proportion of waste which is reused and recycled


To reduce the amount of paper used in the office

To hold or reduce the consumption of A3 and A4 paper in the office in 2015-16 in comparison with 2014-15 levels


To continue to monitor our water consumption

To reduce as far as practicable the level of our water consumption in 2015-16 to achieve the good practice benchmark of 7.7m3


To reduce electricity consumption by following the conservation measures in place


To encourage greater use of audio and video conferencing in order to reduce the need for travel.