Environmental aspects refer to the elements of an organization's activities, products, or services that interact with the environment. Environmental aspects have positive or negative impacts on the environment.
Identifying and understanding environmental aspects and associated impacts is a key to the effective deployment of an effective environmental management system. Common categories of environmental aspects include:
Energy consumption: The amount of energy used by an organization, including electricity, gas, and other forms of energy.
Water usage: The quantity of water used by an organization in its operations, including direct consumption and water used in the production process.
Waste generation: The creation of solid, liquid, or gaseous waste materials as a result of an organization's activities, such as manufacturing processes or office operations.
Emissions: Release of pollutants, greenhouse gases, or other substances into the air, water, or soil. This can include carbon dioxide, sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and other pollutants.
Chemical usage: The use and handling of chemicals in the production process or other operations, which may pose risks to the environment if not managed properly.
Raw material consumption: The extraction and use of natural resources, including minerals, timber, and other raw materials, in the production of goods and services.
Biodiversity: The impact of an organization's activities on the variety and variability of living organisms in a given area, which can result from habitat destruction or pollution.
Land use: The use of land for various purposes, such as industrial facilities, agriculture, or urban development, and its impact on ecosystems.
Transportation: The environmental impact of transporting goods and people, including fuel consumption, emissions, and infrastructure development.
Packaging: The environmental impact of the materials used in product packaging and the generation of packaging waste.
Compliance with regulations: Ensuring that the organization's activities comply with local, national, and international environmental laws and regulations.
Organizations often conduct environmental impact assessments or audits to identify and prioritize their environmental aspects. Aspect control measures are created as part of an EMS, the goal being to enhance positive impacts, minimise negative impacts, and improve overall environmental performance.
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