One ISO 14001 tip to reduce your environmental footprint this recycling week

It’s national recycling week this week, an initiative started by Planet Ark more than 22-years ago, which has got us thinking about the theme of environmental sustainability in workplaces around the world. The simple act of doing business is a resource-intensive process, and we simply can’t stand the thought of excess wastage that can be avoided with a few simple procedures in place, so read on and discover a simple trick that can help you minimise your impact on the environment, while slimming-down and consolidating some key areas of your business.

First up on the chopping block is your documentation. ISO 14001 often both encourages and requires businesses to keep their wastage to a minimum, and this is particularly topical when talking about a businesses’ over-reliance on printing out volumes and volumes of documents.

As we move further into the digital age, the means of publishing your documentation should too.


Waste by the numbers

Source - Same-Day Rubbish Removal

• Every year, the waste we generate in Australia is growing at twice the rate of our population.

• 90% of e-waste (electronic products) does not have a dedicated recycling program.

• There are no requirements for packaging to be recyclable, meaning it is often sent to landfill.

• China has now stopped imports of plastic, and now local councils are struggling to deal with the waste in the wake of this decision.


While it may be tempting to print out several hundred pages and make them available somewhere in your office, the simple act of uploading it to a cloud drive where it’s accessible for all your staff is often more effective in reaching your staff. Quite often – particularly with your younger employees – their natural reaction is to check online for a resolution, rather than reach for an encyclopaedic-size volume of documentation to resolve their problem. In acknowledgement of this, make sure you’re uploading digital copies of your required documentation, to keep the wastage of paper and printer cartridges to a minimum. Planet Ark this week is also promoting what they call ‘Friday File Fling’ and ‘Cartridges 4 Planet Ark’ initiatives, hoping that offices nationwide will take an afternoon out to declutter the office, and dispose of their unwanted documentation and printer cartridges in an environmentally-friendly way.

What an auditor is looking for when they’re analysing your documentation is not so much the physical side, but the underlying message behind it. They’re looking for evidence of three things from your documentation: that it’s defined, implemented and maintained to be an accessible learning resource for your staff. To borrow an analogy, picture your overall policies as the lanes on the road that give you an idea of where to drive, toward a specified outcome. If one of those outcomes is to reduce your environmental footprint – in the context of ISO 14001 – then a switch to online documentation is akin to switching to the overtaking lane on the highway, where you’re able to communicate with staff and clients faster.

We encourage you to take part in your own file fling, if not for the sake of the environment, in the name of throwing out lengthy, unnecessary documentation that could instead be stored online, and shared with your employees in an instant. You’re likely to get far more engagement through the use of Youtube videos, blog posts and multimedia messages that inform your staff concisely, without the need for extensive reading, and the bonus is a much less cluttered office space for you, and less damage to the environment. Think of it this way: would you rather sift through 100-pages of documentation, or watch a 10-minute video that gets the same set of guiding principles across? Exactly, and this is what you should keep in mind if you’re still hoarding hundreds of thousands of pages of documented policies and procedures that would much more effectively be published online, in a format of your choosing.

One final note: Planet Ark has also launched the RecyclingNearYou website that to date has amassed more than 13-million visits. The site puts individuals and businesses in touch with their nearest recycling centre, and offers up tips and tricks for you to utilise to minimise your environmental footprint; head over to their website if you’d like to kick-start an initiative in your office space.

Featured Posts
Recent Posts
Search By Tags