Since CO2 emissions are a central issue in the political debate on climate change, companies often attach great importance to achieving CO2 neutrality.
From SAI Global Technical Manager Australia & Southeast Asia Saeid Nikdel.
However, to be truly sustainable, a global risk management provider recommends that companies serious about being environmentally conscious should focus on a number of actions that also affect water and land.
SAI Global helps organizations in 130 countries – including Australia – develop environmental management systems in accordance with the global ISO 14001 standard.
In addition to carbon emissions, there are key areas that companies can focus on in order to maximize their sustainability efforts. These include reducing releases to water and land, making better use of raw materials and natural resources, more efficient and lower energy consumption, less generation of waste and / or by-products, and better use of space.
It is not only important for companies to be sustainable in order to protect the environment, but also for their existence. New research shows that consumers are driving corporate sustainability efforts, with online searches for sustainable goods increasing 71% globally over the past five years (Global Report by the Economist Intelligence Unit, commissioned by WWF). Several global surveys have also shown that consumers are far more likely to support a company that is committed to corporate social responsibility. Global brands have also committed to improving their sustainability efforts and reducing their carbon footprint, knowing that if they don't, they will lose significant market share.
The ISO 14001 standard provides a whole range of considerations organizations can make about the life cycle of their activities, products and services – from sourcing materials to final disposal – that can have an impact on the environment.
The organization's facilities, processes, products and services could all be assessed as part of its performance in relation to its environmental management.
How raw materials are procured and extracted; which processes are used in the areas of operation, manufacture and storage; and how facilities, assets and infrastructure are operated and maintained – all of which have an impact on a company's environmental footprint and should be part of the conversation when developing an environmental strategy.
But companies can not only have a positive impact on the environment within the framework of their own company.
Companies could also evaluate the environmental performance and practices of all of their external suppliers and use their references in this area to decide who to work with.
Other key areas that can make a huge contribution to a company's global presence are the transportation, packaging and delivery of products; how products are used, stored and handled at the end of their life; and how waste is managed, including reuse, reclamation, recycling and disposal.
Organization-wide acceptance is crucial – and this is where an environmental management system comes in.
Many organizations have an environmental policy from which they develop procedures to demonstrate their commitment to politics. However, a policy is simply a statement that can frame the company's environmental commitments. The management system consists of a set of business processes and documentation – including policies, objectives, procedures, and governance – that control the conditions and factors that affect the environment.
For an environmental management system to be successful, it must be integrated into business processes, strategic direction, and decision-making, and aligned with other business priorities. All levels and functions of the company, led by top management, must fully embrace it.
In order to adequately address and minimize the environmental impact of an organization, we need to look at its entire operation as well as that of its suppliers and partners. The handling of waste, energy consumption and production, generation of energy demand, efficient use of space and the environmental impact on land and water all contribute to this. Without a multi-faceted approach, companies will never reach their full potential as good global citizens.
About Saied Nikdel
Saeid Nikdel is Technical Manager at SAI Global. He joined the organization in 2013 and is responsible for auditing quality, occupational safety and environmental management systems in SMEs and large companies. He has more than 20 years of experience in the areas of risk, compliance and auditing and has extensive knowledge in the development, implementation and maintenance of management systems. During his eight years at SAI Global, Saeid has supported numerous organizations in Australia and Southeast Asia.
About SAI Global
SAI Global is a provider of integrated risk management solutions – a combination of leading certification functions, training services and advisory services across the entire risk lifecycle. It helps companies proactively manage risk to build trust with customers and achieve business confidence, growth and sustainability. The company has a global reach with locations in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, America, Asia and the Pacific. More information is available at www.saiassurance.com.