What is an environmental aspects and impacts register and how do you create one?

What is an environmental aspects and impacts register and how do you create one?

March 9th, 2020 By Marketing

If you’re looking to get ISO 14001 certified you might have stumbled across the term ‘environmental aspects and impacts register’. This term relates to an essential document that identifies and gives significance to the environmental impact of your organization’s activities.
It might sound complicated, but it is actually very straightforward.

What is an environmental aspect?

An environmental aspect refers to the elements of an organisation’s processes or output that has the potential to cause impact on the environment.

For example this could be:

  • Air emissions
  • Use of fossil fuels
  • Land contamination

What is an environmental impact?

An environmental impact refers to the impact the aspect has on the environment.

Using the above example this could be:

  • Air Emissions: Emissions of CO2 contribute to climate change
  • Use of fossil fuels: Unsustainable loss of natural resources
  • Land contamination: Contaminated land can lead to the destruction of wildlife in the surrounding areas.

So how do you create an environmental aspects and impacts register?

To develop your aspects and impacts register you first need to list all activities included in the scope of your environmental management system.

Don’t forget that as well as the regular, day-to-day activities involved in the running of your organisation, you should also consider any activities that are involved in emergency, or start up/shut down conditions.

Once you have this list of activities, you can use a 3 step process to begin developing your register:

  1. Select the activity/process
  2. Identify all the environmental aspects associated with the activity/process
  3. Identify the environmental impacts

So you end up with something like this:

ActivityAspectImpact 
 

Transportation of goods from manufacturer to
supplier using large road vehicles

 

1) Use of fossil fuels
2) CO2 emissions

 

1) Contributing to the unsustainable loss of natural resources
2) Contributing to global warming and the greenhouse gas effect

Significance score

The next step is to evaluate the significance of the activities you’ve listed, or in other words, their significance score. You can work this out by evaluating the likelihood of the impact occurring and the severity of its impact.

You can calculate it using the following method:

For each activity rank the likelihood of the impact occurring from 1 – 5 (1 being not very likely, 5 being very likely). Do the same for the severity (1 being the impact is not very severe, 5 being very severe). Then use this formula to work out the significance score:

Severity Score x Likelihood Score = Significance Score

You can then add this score as another column to your register.

Controls

Outline what you are doing to help mitigate the aspect. Using the above example of the transportation of goods, your control could be to switch to electric, or hybrid vehicles. This forms the final column on your register.

Make sure you keep your environmental aspects and impacts register up to date. The introduction of any new activities or changes to suppliers, for example, need to be included in the register.

A well maintained register will help you manage environmental risks and help contribute to a well functioning environmental management system.

If you think you could benefit with a helping hand during the implementation of ISO 14001, get a free quote from one of our consultants and see how we can help.

ISO 14001 Guide A

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