How will China’s changing stance on importing waste impact on your business?

Environmental Management Systems

How will China’s changing stance on importing waste impact on your business?

The Chinese government has recently announced that it will ban the import of all scrap plastics and unsorted paper by the end of the year. Does this pose a threat to your business – are your waste disposal costs going to increase? Might it impact on your ability to send waste for recycling rather than landfill?

Now could be a good time to look for ways to reduce the amount of plastic and paper waste produced. Where do these materials come into your business? Is there a re-use option, eg re-usable pallet jackets instead of shrink wrap? What process gives rise to the waste? Is there an alternative?

If you think it’s worth a closer look, I can help – call me on 07904 389889.

Does every word of your environmental management system add value?

As an auditor of environmental management systems, I often see manuals and procedures that effectively just repeat the requirements of the standard they are written for.

Eg, XXXX Ltd will determine the environmental aspects of its activities, products and services that it can control, etc.

If your organization has done this, does it create value for you, or just add to the bulk of the system?

If you need a hand to slim down your management system to something that is simply adding value and helping you to achieve your environmental performance objectives, please give me a shout.

Environmental management – black and white, or shades of grey?

As you may be aware, I’ve been thinking about ‘plastic soup’ a lot recently. I’ve been thinking about my clients, but also my personal environmental impact in relation to the clothes that I wear.

Inevitably, they are not all made from natural fibres, and we now know that the fibres from clothing break off when we are wearing the clothes as well as when we wash them, causing significant pollution issues when those fibres are made from plastic.

It’s an easy conclusion to reach that I should wash those clothes less (within the bounds of social acceptability!), and possibly even wear those clothes less. But should I replace them with clothes made from natural fibres? And if I did, what should I do with the old clothes?

My usual reaction to questions like this is to think that it’s better to use something that’s already made because of the environmental impacts associated with buying replacements.

But is that the case here? Do the environmental impacts of continuing to use man-made fibres outweigh the environmental impacts of replacement?

As is so often the case with environmental issues, that’s not an easy question to answer. It reminded me of how, in environmental management, we rarely deal with black and white issues. We have to get used to working in shades of grey and making judgements according to our priorities, based on an imperfect amount of information.

What are the environmental issues that you’re wrestling with at the moment?

Improve your employees’ safety and environmental performance

Last weekend, I did a one day IAM Roadsmart training day on driving safely. We were taught to look ahead, anticipate, accelerate gently and slow down by reducing pressure on the accelerator (you don’t always need to brake). We were reminded of the importance of ensuring that our cars are well maintained, and told about how the motorways are the safest place to drive. All of these things combine to make our driving safer. They also make our driving more fuel efficient.

Is it worth considering some IAM Roadsmart training for your employees who drive a lot? It could improve their safety, improve your environmental performance (and fuel bills), and even reduce your insurance premiums if they become Advanced Drivers.

Is duplication helpful, or more likely to lead to mistakes?

I was auditing a company recently when I noticed some duplication in their environmental management system documentation. All of the procedures were presented as a flow chart, then repeated in words. This means that they will appeal to people who are visual as well as those that prefer words, which could be a good thing.  I didn’t notice any errors in this case, but it reminded me of how duplications mean that you run the risk of one element being updated and the other no longer matching.

I saw this the other day in some operating procedures covering temperature. The correct temperature settings were stated differently in different parts of the procedure. Not only could this lead to confusion, but also to wasted energy.

Are there any duplications in your environmental management system? If so, are they managed closely to ensure that any changes are made in both places?