For many businesses, environmental performance is becoming increasingly crucial. By properly managing environmental challenges, you may ensure compliance with legislation, minimize expenses, and improve your reputation with stakeholders like as customers, employees, investors, and the local community.
Setting up an environmental management system (EMS) and having it certified to a standard, such as ISO 14001, is the most comprehensive way to control your environmental impacts. Many firms, though, may find this intimidating.
Conducting an environmental audit of your company can provide you with many of the benefits of a formal, systematic approach without the expenditures required for an EMS.
This guide describes what an environmental review is and how you can measure your environmental impact. It also discusses how to reduce your environmental impact through the three processes of creating a baseline, setting environmental targets, and producing and monitoring an action plan.
An environmental review is a method of reviewing your company’s environmental performance and defining action goals. It is a three-step procedure:
determining the current state of the environment;
setting improvement goals;
putting a strategy into action.
The assessment should at the very least address what legal obligations apply to your company and whether they are being met. Your evaluation should also include areas of best practice such as resource use and how environmental performance is currently managed in your company.
Other strategies for gathering information about your environmental performance include life cycle assessment, environmental risk assessment, and corporate ecosystem services evaluation.
An EMS consists of the same three components as an environmental review. It does, however, have a number of other obligations, including an environmental strategy and extensive documentation.
This is especially true if you want to obtain ISO 14001 certification or Eco-management and Audit Scheme (EMAS) verification – see environmental management systems (EMS) – the fundamentals.
An environmental risk assessment helps you to analyze the potential of your company creating environmental damage. This includes discussing potential threats and their consequences before taking actions to mitigate them.
It employs approaches similar to the health and safety risk assessment that your company already conducts.
An environmental risk assessment consists of five critical steps. You must do the following:
identify any risks, i.e. potential causes of harm;
describe the potential harm they may cause;
assess the likelihood of occurrence and devise preventative measures;
Keep a record of the assessment’s findings and take precautions.
When looking for environmental dangers in your business, keep the following in mind:
Waste storage and disposal, such as using the correct containers and keeping them away from drains and watercourses;
Emissions, such as dust and other pollutants into the atmosphere;
Storage, usage, and disposal of hazardous substances;
Drainage and disposal of liquid waste;
Raw materials’ environmental impact, such as potentially harmful metals or other minerals;
Packaging’s environmental impact;
Some of these sectors have statutory minimum standards that must be met;
Environmental impact analyses.
If your company is contemplating a development that will have a substantial impact on the environment, you must first conduct an Environmental Impact Assessment.
After you have finished the environmental review and created improvement targets, you will need an action plan to address the issues and reach the targets.
Your action plan should include the following points:
the person in charge of each task;
the completion date for each task.
The plan should be approved by top management so that the business’s decision-makers buy into the goals and accept both the potential costs and benefits.
However, the action plan will most likely touch everyone in your company. Because environmental projects frequently entail behavioral changes, it is critical that you interact with all parts of the organization and at all levels. In addition to senior management backing, the involvement and support of all employees is critical to the plan’s success.
By highlighting the benefits of implementing environmental measures, you may find it easier to actively engage staff in your action plan. One method is to provide them with advise on how to reduce their trash, water, and energy use at home.
You may also want to nominate an environmental champion to ensure that the action plan is adequately implemented. Larger companies may choose to appoint an environmental champion for each location or department, as well as an environmental working group led by a senior manager. This group should convene to discuss progress, concerns, and new ideas, as well as to support the environmental champions.
In smaller organizations, this working group may be made up of the regular senior management team or the board of directors, in which case the plan’s progress can be discussed at regular management or board meetings.