Identifying and developing a significant environmental aspects and impacts register is key to ensure the effectiveness of the Environmental Management Systems based on the ISO 14001 standard.
The environmental aspects are all the elements, activities, processes and products/services of an organisation that can interact and has an impact on the environment. The latest version of the ISO 14001 standard also specifies three basic commitments that must be considered in the environmental protection policies of the organisations. These three commitments are constantly addressed throughout the ISO 14001 standard in order to make the application of the Environmental Management System coherent and solid.
Key Aspects of ISO 14001
1. Commitment to Protect the Environment
The first key aspect does not only involve the necessary measures to reduce the environmental impact resulting from the operation of the organisation but also refers to pollution prevention mechanisms and other relevant issues that are within the context of the organisation.
Organisations are increasingly affected by the environment in which they operate, especially in relation to the availability of resources, air and water quality and the impacts associated with climate change. Therefore, the commitment of the organisation to the protection of the environment directly influences the competitiveness and sustainability of the business focused on a long term.
2. Planning and Evaluation
The organisation must evaluate all its processes and identify the environmental aspects and impacts derived from the realization of them:
- The processes of acquisition of raw materials
- Use and disposal
It is important to know which processes can be controlled, modified or influenced.
Among other aspects, the planning carried out by the organisation must determine which are important environmental aspects and propose ways to control, anticipating the difficulties that may arise during the implementation and verification of the Environmental Management System.
3. The Legal Aspects
When it comes to managing significant environmental aspects according to the ISO 14001 standard, the legal requirements must be taken into account.
The identification of the various environmental aspects and the reflection in the form of anticipation before possible risk scenarios that may have legal consequences helps to be able to foresee any related legal aspect. In addition, it is a positive point since it prevents undesired situations from occurring and helps to identify favourable conditions or circumstances that may offer an advantage or a beneficial result for the organisation.
How to Develop an Environmental Aspects and Impacts Register for ISO 14001
Once the environmental aspects of greater relevance have been identified, it is necessary to develop an aspects and impacts register that would ensure effective and efficient management. It must be borne in mind that the omission of a significant and relevant aspect would have consequences such as not complying with the proposed objectives or difficulties of a legal nature for the organisation.
Following are some recommendations that allow us to develop environmental aspects and impacts register for ISO 14001:
- Prepare a list of the environmental aspects that are considered significant to be able to review them in periodic meetings with those responsible for the environmental management system of the organisation.
- Carry out brainstorming, with the presence of the most qualified people (related to environmental management) of the organisation to contribute different ideas for the solution of the most significant environmental aspects.
- Create a multidisciplinary team that addresses the implementation of the proposed activities, resulting from the two previous activities.
- Prepare a detailed record of all the data obtained as accurately as possible in order to ensure systems for measuring progress and allow an effective audit in the future.
- Set review dates for each of the significant aspects. Even if we are sure that the root of the problem has been addressed successfully, it is convenient to carry out periodic reviews in order to avoid the reappearance of the conditions that generated the problem.
With the passage of time, it is appreciated that many of the significant environmental aspects are susceptible to be addressed through the development and application of an environmental aspects and impacts register for ISO 14001.
If you are considering implementing a ISO 14001 environmental management system, contact us for a free consultation on how we can support your project and add value to your organisation.