An environmental audit is how we refer generally to a variety of types of evaluations that aim to identify environmental compliance and shortfalls in the way that your organisation’s management system makes implementations, and the solutions to those shortfalls. This is similar to a financial audit: a measure with which many organisations will be familiar. Generally speaking, environmental audits fall into two categories: management system audits and compliance audits.
The intention behind taking these measures is to review your organisation’s compliance with legislation and establish that status within an operational context. First, the audits begin with determining the relevant requirements against which your operations are to be assessed. This will take in UK-wide regulations, permits and licensing, and regional and local requirements and bylaws.
Compliance audits can be programmatic or multimedia. The multimedia type involves the identification and auditing of all of your organisation’s environmental media (water, air, waste management etc.). Programmatic audits, which are thematic or media-specific are limited to specifically identified areas of environmental regulation, eg. Water.
ISO 14001 is a voluntary international standard for environmental management systems (EMS). ISO 14001:2004 enables adherence to the requirements for an EMS and ISO 14004 gives general environmental management system guidelines. An EMS that satisfies the requirements of ISO 14001:2004 is a management tool that will enable your organisation to do the following:
(1)Enact the implementation of a systematic approach to setting and standardising environmental targets and objectives, to achieving these and to demonstrating that they have been achieved;
(2)Identify and enable the control of the environmental impact of your organisation’s activities, products or services;
(3)Continually improve your environmental performance.
Organisations, companies, official bodies etc that implement ISO 14001 will usually seek to obtain certification by independent Certification Bodies. In being certified, your organisation will demonstrate that the implementation, documentation and effectiveness of your environmental management systems conforms and adheres to the specific requirements of ISO 14001.
People often assume that being ISO 14001-certified automatically entails that your organisation is legally compliant. Under ISO 14001, being certified is not a direct reflection of compliance with any legal requirements. It does, however, demand that your organisation has to evaluate its compliance with legal requirements. If all legal requirements are not met, ISO 14001 requires that your organisation sets specific targets for these to be met and sets out, implements and maintains actionable programmes to satisfy the requirements of the compliance
TPB Partnership can help your organisation with all of this – we carry out the audits and help you make the corrective actions. By meeting international environmental standards, your organisation will automatically distinguish itself from competitors which do not. Companies that will be looking to engage with the services or products you offer will look far more favourably on an organisation that meets such standards than one that doesn’t. And, of course, you will be acting ethically according what is best for the environment, which makes sense in the long-term.