What is an environmental aspect?
“Environmental Aspects” are detailed in ISO 14001:2015 as “element of an organisation’s activities, products or services that interacts or can interact with the environment.” The activities analysed can have a positive or negative impact on the environment, and consideration of the cradle to grave life cycle perspective must be given. When an organisation is determining their aspects, the following shall be assessed:
- Emissions to air;
- Emissions to water;
- Land Contamination
- Use of natural resource raw materials
- Energy usage and emission
- Waste generated
- Use of space.
What is an environmental impact?
An “impact” is defined in ISO 14001:2015 as “an adverse or beneficial change to the environment resulting from the organization’s aspects.” An organisation, no matter what size, will have impacts socially, economically, and environmentally through waste, energy, resource use.
Requirements of ISO 14001:2015
Understanding an organisations aspect and the associated impact on the environment is deemed to be one of the most critical components of an Environmental Management System. Aspects and impacts link with other essential requirements of ISO 14001, including internal & external issues, compliance obligations and needs, and expectations of interested parties.
The aspects requirements are detailed in clause 6.1.2 of ISO 14001:2015. In summary, an organisation is required to document its aspects and associated impacts, determine their significant aspects if they exist, and outline the criteria utilised to analyze their aspects. Documented information of all requirements outlined in 6.1.2 is required to be maintained. Examples of aspects linked to specific activities and processes can be found in the annexes of ISO 14004: 2004.
Guidance to implementing ISO 14001:2015
- I.S. EN ISO 14004:2016 – Environmental management systems – General guidelines on implementation
- ISO 14001:2015 – A practical guide for SMEs: This booklet aims to help small businesses understand the requirements of an environmental management system and to help them implement ISO 14001 successfully
- I.S. EN ISO 14031:2013 – Environmental management – Environmental performance evaluation – Guidelines
- I.S. EN ISO 14006:2011 – Environmental management systems – Guidelines for incorporating ecodesign