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#FindingsFriday: ISO 14001:2015 Clause 6.1.2 - Environmental Aspects

The Finding

The Aspects and Impacts register would benefit from a review following the change of working environments.

Some Context to the Finding

The Training company that received this finding (which was recorded as an observation) had recently restructured. As it happens, the restructure had happened before Covid-19 hit and had already started to deliver more of its courses online. The pandemic resulted in a further increase in the changes to the business. Consequently, the Register of Environmental Aspects no longer accurately reflected the organisation's environmental impact from training delivery.

Key things that had changed:

  • With fewer classroom courses and more training being delivered online, there was a signficant reduction in mileage (and associated fuel consumption and atmospheric emissions) due to the direct impact of trainers travelling less and the indirect impact associated with candidates no longer all travelling.

  • For online courses, printed materials are no longer required, which means reduced paper consumption.

  • Due to the health concerns associated with Covid, certificates are no longer printed, which means a further reduction in paper consumption and even in the (special hard backed) envelopes used to post certificates.

  • The training office closed, and when it did, there was no longer a need to maintain the lease on a problematic printer (which regularly jammed and wasted more paper). Instead, the organisation outsourced the printing of all materials and saw a substantial reduction in waste materials.

  • Course materials were reviewed and simplified; eliminating uncessary files where classroom courses are still delivered.

Action taken to address the finding

In this instance, the action required to address the finding was simply to review the Register of Environmental Aspects and to consider whether the scoring remained appropriate. The scale of the change was so great that it was possible to downgrade the impacts associated with travel and paper consumption.

Lessons to take from this finding

The global pandemic has had a major impact on how all organisations work and it is likely that there may have been technological changes within organisations that have helped to drive similar reductions in travel, paper consumption - and perhaps other things (like reducing the amount of waste being generated as a result of having fewer people in the office). Many of the changes were made in rapid response to the need to adapt to continue doing business. The impact of change should be evaluated; some may be positive (as in this case); others may be more detrimental, but either way, the revised status of the environmental aspects should be understood so that appropriate new improvement objectives can be set in the future.


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