The term voluntary instruments describes such activities of business and other organizations that lead towards a reduction in the negative environmental impacts of their activities, being introduced and implemented by the organizations based on a free (voluntary) decision and going beyond the requirements of legislation in force.
The main principles of voluntary instruments are as follows:
- voluntary nature – there is no legal obligation to implement them;
- prevention – they focus on eliminating the causes of environmental problems rather than their consequences;
- systemic approach – deliberate focus on areas and own activities with negative environmental impacts.
The implementation of voluntary instruments (or voluntary environmental activities) at the corporate level is thus of great importance both for the business itself and for society as a whole. The preventive nature of the voluntary instruments leads to a sounder environment, thus significantly contributing to the realisation of sustainable production and consumption, or sustainable development. There are then other benefits at the corporate level, such as improved competitiveness, better image, and operational cost savings.
The implementation of the said instruments is supported not only by the State Environmental Policy, but also in the form of national programmes approved by the Government and implemented by the Ministry.