HOW CAN YOU MAKE SURE YOUR BUSINESS OR ORGANISATION IS NOT HARMING THE ENVIRONMENT?
South African organisations need to ensure that they do not harm the environment as governed by SA Law. Organisations should take a few basic steps to review their legal environmental compliance requirements to ensure that they do not cause harm.
1. Identify applicable legislation.
Peter Drucker famously said, “If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.” and the same applies to legal environmental requirements. The first step in measuring compliance is to identity what is applicable to your organisation. Many organisations compile and maintain legal registers detailing all applicable legislation, what the effect or requirement is on the organisation and how to ensure compliance to it. As there is such a wide array of legal requirements, the compilation of a legal register is often outsourced to ensure all possible requirements are identified, reviewed and included within the organisations.
2. Ensure you are compliant with environmental legislation.
Organisations must ensure that they understand the applicable legislation and that they comply with it. This may require the implementation of specific measures within the organisation which may include a range of aspects affected such as waste, water and air quality management, licensing of specific activities and operations, and the implementation of control and management measures.
Compliance is often monitored internally by an organisation however can also be reviewed by the Competent Authorities, such as the Government or governing bodies. These reviews often take the form of audits however can also be conducted through unscheduled inspections undertaken by inspectors who may be authorised to stop an organisation if they are not complying with the relevant environmental legislation.
3. Ensure your systems and processes are sustainable.
Organisations need to ensure that their business practices are sustainable so as not to cause harm to the environment or to human health through pollution or any other means. This can further include ensuring that hazardous materials are contained, waste appropriately managed, and water not polluted. Further that employees, neighbouring communities or organisations are not affected by poor air quality.
Processes undertaken by an organisation should regularly be reviewed to determine if there is a better way to do it, and to determine if it is possible to reduce environmental impacts from the processes.
Organisations can review their environmental management systems in place, or if not in place, implemented such a system which all employees can be trained on.
Organisations can identify where they may be exposed to liability for pollution or other environmental damages and take steps to reduce or eliminate these risks.
Identify risks associated with offsite storage of hazardous substances or materials used in operations, transportation of hazardous substances or materials used in operations and disposal of hazardous waste materials.
The correct steps to take when it comes to protecting the environment as an organisation include, knowing and understanding the legal requirements, reviewing all products, including raw materials and waste that is generated by your business and making sure you monitor and maintain these activities on a regular basis.