1. Introduction

Environmental protection is an action or activity (which involves the use of equipment, labour, manufacturing techniques and practices) where the main purpose is to collect, treat, reduce, prevent or eliminate pollutants or any other degradation of the environment resulting from the operating activity of the company.

Environmental protection expenditure (EPE) can be divided into operating costs, capital acquisitions and disposals (Sections B, C and D).

The aim of this survey is not to try and identify an environmental component in everything your business does, but rather single out a few specific activities that are clearly guided by environmental considerations.

The survey asks you to break down your estimates into the following categories:

  • Waste water - activities that relate to any water that has been adversely affected in quality by human activity or influence. Wastewater can originate from a combination of industrial, commercial or agricultural activities and from sewer inflow or infiltration (sewerage).
  • Air - Air pollution occurs when harmful substances including particulates and biological molecules are introduced into Earth's atmosphere and may damage the natural or built environment.
  • Solid waste - Materials that are a by-product of your activity that you have no further use for terms of own purposes of production, transformation or consumption, and of which you want to dispose. This includes municipal waste (includes household waste, commercial waste, and demolition waste) hazardous waste (includes industrial waste) biomedical waste (includes clinical waste) and special hazardous waste (includes radioactive waste, explosive waste, and electronic waste)

Other can include:

  • Soil/groundwater - Pollution most often results from improper disposal of wastes on land. Major sources include industrial and household chemicals and garbage landfills, excessive fertilizers and pesticides used in agriculture, industrial waste lagoons, tailings and process wastewater from mines, industrial fracking, oil field brine pits, leaking underground oil storage tanks and pipelines, sewage sludge and septic systems.
  • Noise/ pollution is the disturbing or excessive noise that may harm the activity or balance of human or animal life. The source of most outdoor noise worldwide is mainly caused by machines and transportation systems, motor vehicles, aircraft, and trains.
  • Nature protection (conservation) is the practice of protecting wild plant and animal species and their habitats.
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2. Operating expenditure (section B)

This section captures the costs that you pay to external organisations to carry out environmental services on your behalf and internal spend which own employees carry out environmental protection activities within your own business.

External operating costs

This includes expenditure for environmental protection for the treatment and/or disposal or investigation of the environmental protection activities, completed by external organizations on your behalf. Please note that this excludes permits and regulatory charges.


  • Removal of solid waste (any waste including general such as cardboard and paper).
  • Waste water to a water service company for sewage treatment (not water supply).
  • Contaminated soil or ground water (include removal, treatment and inspection costs).

Note: These are examples not a complete list

Internal operating costs

This includes expenditure for environmental protection for the treatment and/or disposal or investigation of the environmental protection activities, within your business completed by own employees.


  • Labour-operating, supervisory, maintenance staff, staff training and monitoring.
  • Environmental management - reporting, monitoring and development plans management systems.
  • Materials and service cost - replacement costs for example chemicals and filters.
  • Operating and maintenance cost - emergency provision, insurance premiums and leasing payments (but not interest or depreciation).

Note: These are examples not a complete list

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3. Capital expenditure (Section C)

"End of pipe" capital expenditure

This section asks for capital expenditure incurred by your company for method, technologies, processes or equipment designed to collect, remove pollutants after their creation. Which may prevent the spread and/or measure pollution and treat or dispose of pollutants generated by the operating process. Please include both equipment and installation expenditure.


  • Waste water - effluent treatment plant, flow monitoring equipment and filter presses.
  • Air - caustic scrubber, fume hoods and odour mask systems.
  • Solid waste - equipment for storage and transport of waste, waste compounds, equipment for treatment that is physical, chemical, thermal or biological; also equipment for disposal of waste, such as incinerators.

Other can include:

  • Soil - equipment for clean-up, controlling and measuring the quality of soil, surface water and ground water; equipment for measure the extent of soil erosion and chemical composition.
  • Noise and vibrations - embankments, hedges, covering soundproofing of machines and piping, fuel regulation system and sound absorption, noise screens, barriers, sound-proofing building and noise protective windows.
  • Protection of biodiversity and landscapes - equipment that protects or rehabilitates areas of fauna and flora species, ecosystems , habitats, natural or semi- natural landscapes.
  • Protection against radiation - equipment for the containment and disposal of high-level radioactive waste.
  • Research and development - for the protection of air, water, soil and groundwater, species and habitats and radiation; also includes research and development for the reduction of noise and vibration and waste.

Note: These are examples not a complete list

"Integrated" capital expenditure

This section asks for capital expenditure incurred by your company which has a beneficial effect on the environment, relates to new or modified production facilities which have been designed with environmental protection integrated into the process. This expenditure has to specifically relate to environmental protection for example if a new process was installed in which the design takes account of environmental protection requirements. The environmental protection expenditure comprises the extra cost compared with a cheaper and less environmentally friendly alternative. It can include the adaptation of an existing installation or process. Please exclude environmental expenditure related to standard purchases, for example when there is no cheaper less environmentally beneficial alternative available to the company. The measure is by definition not an environmental protection activity and therefore no environmental expenditure should be reported.

Example of how to complete this section

Company purchases a wet scrubber as part of their integrated process this was specifically purchased as the most effective pollution control solution for the business, regardless of cost at the price of £500,000.00 (this would be the figure in question 6) a lesser standard version would of cost £300,000.00. The additional costs incurred to the company for purchasing a more effective pollution control against the standard is £200,000.00 (this would be the figure in question 7).

Further examples of equipment

  • Waste water - equipment and plant linked to cleaner technology, installations for reductions in water use and reuse of water.
  • Air - equipment and plant linked to cleaner technology, installations for re-use of waste gas to prevent air pollution, installations for use of environmentally friendly raw material and auxiliary material.
  • Solid waste - equipment and plant linked to cleaner technology, installation for reuse of materials in production process
  • Soil or groundwater - equipment and plant linked to cleaner technology, installations for triple walled tanks and overfill protection devices, lock-out devices on tanks and pipe work for security, which nonetheless protect the environment
  • Noise and vibration - equipment and plant linked to cleaner technology, equipment and machines designed or constructed for low noise or vibration level
  • Nature protection - adaptation of treatment plants or structures that provide habitat or wildlife protection; equipment that also measures or controls the impact from pollution caused during process to species, habitats, natural and semi-natural landscapes.

Note: These are examples not a complete list

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4. Disposals of environmental protection capital assets (Section D)

This section asks the total value of proceeds from disposals of capital assets for technologies or equipment designed to collect and/or remove pollutants during and after the operating process. Please only include the value of capital assets that were specifically purchased for environmental protection purposes.

Please refer to the example lists for both “end of pipe” and “integrated” equipment for guidance of what should be captured for this section.

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5. Climate change adaptation expenditure (Section E)

This section asks for information about your business’s adaptations to address actual or expected changes in the climate. Adaptations to address actual or expected changes in the climate, such as extreme weather, can include but are not limited to:


  • Rethinking business strategies and finances
  • diversifying your products, services and supply chains
  • installing back up power
  • installing heating or cooling systems
  • installing new flood defences
  • investing in resources including staffing and training
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6. Frequently asked questions

I have lost your questionnaire or require guidance to complete the survey.

Should you require a duplicate copy, or your question is not covered in this document or technical guidance note, please contact the Environmental Accounts team on 01633 651890 for further assistance.

Does this survey apply to my business even though I am a small company?

Yes, this survey applies to all selected businesses, regardless of size.

My business does not have any environmental expenditure, why have I received this survey?

Responses from companies with no environmental protection expenditure are still very important for the quality of the survey results. If you are certain that you have no expenditure to report then we still require you to return the form. To mark it as a nil return please (x), provide an explanation of your business activity in section F, and complete your contact details.

Within our organisation there is an overlap with environmental protection expenditure and health and safety. Is it acceptable to include both types of expenditure in this survey?

This survey only asks for expenditure on environmental protection activities and not health and safety. Please remove expenditure on health and safety measures, to the best of your ability.

I know we have relevant costs but I can't separate them out, is it acceptable to provide best estimates?

Yes, due to the specific nature of the survey many companies are only able to provide estimates. If you would like guidance on how to estimate the costs please contact the Environmental Accounts team on 01633 651890.

Do I include expenditure for all of my company's operations or for just the site or operational unit to which the survey is addressed?

The survey should be completed for the operational unit or site as stated in the address on the questionnaire; however this may include some of the company's local sites or subsidiary groups. If uncertain please contact the Environmental Accounts team on 01633 651890 for further information.

What is the difference between operating costs and capital expenditure?

Operating costs can be defined as the expenses which are related to the operation of a business, or to the operation of a piece of equipment or facility. They are the cost of resources used by a business just to maintain its existence. Capital expenditure can be defined as money spent by a business on acquiring or maintaining fixed assets, such as land, buildings, and equipment.

Should I include the cost of research and development, which may indirectly result in environmental improvement?

No. Only include research and development costs directly related to reducing the environmental impact of your company's activities

How will my data be used and where and when will results of the survey be available?

There is significant demand from UK government departments for this information. Results from this survey will be used to calculate UK environmental protection measures. Please be assured that we hold all information securely and we do not publish information that would be disclosive about an individual business. Final results publication will be available from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) website each summer.

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7. Need help?

For more information or any queries please contact the survey Environmental Accounts team by phone on 01633 651890.

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