How to identify the environmental impacts of your organization

In the context of your organization, it's important to consider a wider perspective. It's not just about recycling the paper and the toner cartridges in your office, but thinking about the bigger picture and looking at a whole range of things that you use in your business. A lot of it is probably manufactured somewhere far away from where you're currently operating, here in Australia, we import a heap of stuff from China.

Where I am today is up on the Great Barrier Reef in a town called Cannes. I think what's really important to consider is as we look around this port, we can see that some of these ships are used to transport goods and services into this particular port. What's really critical is that those things are coming through a world heritage-listed area. Obviously, we can use gasoline, fuel and diesel and all those sorts of things in the organization, but some of those things are going to come through really sensitive environmental areas. Don't forget that when you're operating your organization, that those things form part of your environmental aspects, and affect how you actually impact the whole way that the economy operates.

As we talk about the environmental impacts of your organization, and obviously in this particular area, all the companies that are operating in the industrial estates and commercial business areas of Cannes bring some of those goods and services through that really sensitive area. Obviously, we can have accidents and incidents that can impact those very sensitive areas.

It's a huge tourism industry here in Cannes, international tourists coming from all over the world to see this amazing reef. I think what's really important is that you have a small part to play in how your goods and services are transported. It's not just about recycling the paper and the toner cartridges and those sorts of things in your organization, but also about your transport routes and the places where your products are being manufactured.

For example, do the raw materials for the goods and services that you consume come from mines that operate in very sensitive areas? Thinking about the bigger picture gives you a whole bunch of things to consider; there's obviously the operation of your organization, the inputs you consume, the activities you undertake, your outputs, goods and services and your wastes.

Another factor that's really important to consider as the second part of this is how you can actually help and/or impact your customers. We've mentioned recently about an electrical contractor who had the opportunity to advise his client on saving a huge amount of energy, however that electrical contractor really hadn't thought about how he can actually give a whole bunch of advice and influence the client because he's the specialist. So when you think about your organization, think about how you can help your customer from an environmental perspective. Think about what are you doing to be an environmentally sensitive organization. Are you using organic raw materials? Are you looking at the whole environmental footprint? Can you help your customer by promoting what you do? And that your customer can then promote their day to buying from Green suppliers.

Have a good think about what your goods and services are, what the important outputs are of your goods and services, and your customers, and then you can start to think about how you can apply those factors in your environmental management system to improve the environmental footprint of your business, the whole environmental lifecycle of your business, and minimize your carbon footprint.

If you want to know some more information on how to actually look at this in terms of a full system in your organization take a look at ISO 14001. Best Practice offers a certification to that program so that's something that you can consider in the bigger picture and think about for your organization. Have a think about what some of the goals might be and do some research and get an understanding of what you need to do. Do not forget some of your legal and other requirements as it's a big part of ISO 14001.

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