Aspects and Impact Registers: How and Why
Aspects and impact registers are a requirement under ISO 14001:2015 Environmental Management Systems. They are also a valuable tool for any business looking to reduce their impact on the environment and increase savings.
So, what are aspect and impact registers? Put simply aspect and impact registers are means of carrying out environmental impact assessments of your business. It should take into account the day to day business as well as unplanned events which may give rise to new environmental aspects. An environmental aspect is defined as an element of an organisation’s activities, products of services that can interact with the environment. An impact is and change to the environment, whether adverse or beneficial, wholly or partially resulting from an organisation’s aspects. So for example, an aspect could be paper usage, and the impact would be increased deforestation from harvesting wood for paper production. However, some aspects can have more than one impact. In this case another impact of paper consumption would be an increase in wastewater (as the paper industry uses more water to produce a ton of product than any other industry), an increase in energy consumption (as paper production is the world’s fifth largest industrial consumer of electricity), and an increase in waste from printing of documents unnecessarily.
Once aspects and impacts are identified control measures and any action or improvements required can be detailed, to minimise the impact on the environment. If we look at the example of paper consumption we could consider:
- Informing staff to only print documents when necessary.
- All printers set to double-sided printing as the default.
- Purchasing recycled paper.
- Reuse printed paper where possible for note taking.
- .Recycle waste paper.
Finally, you should detail any particular legislation or regulation that may relate to that aspect. This will aid you in managing that particular aspect effectively.
It is important that you go back and review your aspect and impacts registers periodically, or any time there is a change to the business. Most businesses would routinely review their aspects and impact registers annually, regardless of any change to businesses practices, processes or products.
So, what are the benefits of aspects and impact registers? Aspect and impact registers allow us to see where we are being wasteful. If we can reduce what we are consuming, we can reduce costs, which leads to savings for our business. Changes in processes or products need not be expensive, but the long-term benefits can be huge, and not only to the environment. Environmentally responsible business practices lead to a positive business reputation with regards to environmental responsibility, which can lead to an increase in business.
If you need help with your aspects and impact registers, or any part of your health, safety and environment management system, contact us to find out how we can help you: firstname.lastname@example.org or 01843 6399711.