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How to Determine Your Company’s Environmental Aspects

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An environmental aspect is an element of an organization’s activities, products, or services that has or may have an impact on the environment, as defined by ISO 14001.

An environmental impact is a change to the environment. In simpler terms, an environmental aspect is anything that happens within your organization that interacts with the environment.


ISO 14001 Annex A gives us six categories to help with identifying environmental aspects.

  • Emissions to Air

  • Releases to Water

  • Waste Management

  • Contamination of Land

  • Consumption of Natural Resources and Raw Materials

  • Other Environmental Issues Particular to your General Locality and Community (noise, odors, etc.)


When identifying environmental aspects, all parts of the company’s operations in the defined scope have to be considered, not just the obvious core manufacturing or service activities.



Evaluation of Significant Environmental Aspects


The goal for identifying environmental aspects is to understand which are important environmental issues to be managed and controlled by your EMS. You do not need to manage all environmental aspects – only the ones that are, according to your own criteria, declared significant.


So, the next step is to identify the significant environmental aspects. The following aspects have been identified as potentially having significant environmental impacts:

  • Hazardous waste

  • Radioactive waste

  • Mixed waste

  • Permitted air emissions

  • Regulated liquid discharges

  • Storage, use, and transportation of chemicals

  • Storage, use, and transportation of radioactive materials

  • Nonrenewable Energy Use/Intensity (Electricity)

  • Greenhouse gas emissions


Once you have finished identifying all environmental aspects, the next step is to consider if you have the ability to control or influence these activities. For more information on implementing a robust Environmental Management System, schedule a free 30-minute consultation with an IBEC expert.