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Carbon Foot Printing – Significant Environmental Aspects

Abricon has worked together with many organisations from large educational colleges with over 700 staff through to SMEs with less than 20 employees to implement an ISO 14001 compliant Environmental Management Systems.

A typical concern registered by our customers is how do they evaluate which of their Environmental Aspects are “Significant”? Often this is seen as a qualitative exercise, but this needs to be repeated and so guestimation is not an option as this may need replication by a colleague further down the line.  To manage aspects this way the relevant procedure needs to spell out in detail how this is to be undertaken.

Indicators of Significance

There are many ways of deciding significance, but there are a few common indicators, such as:

  • If Legislation (or other similar requirement) applies to the aspect and its impact – it must be rated ‘significant’. (Breaking the law would be significant!)
  • If you lack data or knowledge on the impact you need to identify it as ‘significant’ until you have the data to decide otherwise. (The precautionary approach)
  • If the magnitude of the impact on the environment is sufficient the aspect is ‘significant’. Here you need good knowledge of the interactions of your processes with the environment.

You may also choose to include other issues appropriate to your business e.g.

  • Cost
  • Quantity
  • Views of interested parties
  • Risk assessment

Whatever the method, it needs to be clearly defined in procedures, tested, and repeatable. You also need to keep records of the process to aid future reviews and for internal audit.

Abricon’s Approach

Following on from the bullet points above Abricon understands how difficult it is to compare energy measured in KWh, waste paper in Tonnes, business travel in miles, purchasing in sterling, Fgas use in Kg to understand which has the greatest impact on the environment.

People understand that the CO2(e) metric can be used to measure environmental impact and so by converting all of the impacts to a common denominator -“Carbon”, a direct and easily replicated method of significance testing is at their finger tips.

Abricon have taken this analysis a step forward and tie the Significant Environmental Aspects to the organisation’s activities and the environmental objectives and targets. To make the adoption and implementation easier for our customers all of this is undertaken in Microsoft Excel so no expensive investment in software is required and easily performable on low budget lap-tops.

To make the message easier to convey to your staff, Abricon can readily set this up for our customers within a staff “Intranet” along with all other EMS documentation. We’d be happy to visit or email information for your consideration.

Contact Abricon for free initial advice.

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