Management system guidance

6.1 Address Risks and Opportunities

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6.1.2 Environmental Aspects and Impacts

This is almost the same requirement as in the 2004 edition. Your organization must determine the environmental aspects, and their impacts, of its activities, products and services under its control and influence.

Your organization has to establish criteria to determine which of these aspects have or can have a significant environmental impact. Significant environmental aspects can result in risks and opportunities with associated adverse or beneficial impacts.

The term ‘environmental aspects’ is defined in the standard as ‘any element of an organization’s activities, products or services which can interact with the environment’, in laymen’s terms, environmental aspects cause, or have the potential to cause, an environment impact, examples of environmental aspects include:

  1. Emissions to air via smoke or fumes;
  2. Waste water discharge;
  3. The potential for accidental chemical spill;
  4. The generation of waste and disposal of waste;
  5. The use of resources, including water and energy;
  6. The use of recycled materials;
  7. Noise and vibration.

Once all the aspects and compliance obligations have been identified for your company, you must determine those aspects that have or can have a significant environmental impact (i.e. your significant environmental aspects), using a scoring method.

There is no definitive method for determining significance as it needs to be relevant to the individual business needs but there are a number of methods that could be used depending on the complexity of the company. You can download a free copy of our Environmental Aspect & Impact Register.

A simple High, Medium and Low ranking regime may be applied to companies with limited aspects arising from simple and limited activities, processes and services.More complex companies would benefit from a more robust approach that allocates scores to the aspects based on numeric values ascribed to various categories of scores.

Inputs that should be considered include compliance obligations, concerns of interested parties (internal/external), type, scale, frequency, severity, duration, and exposure.

Whichever method your organization chooses should be repeatable and should be checked once completed to ensure that the results reflect the actual activities of your business. The aspects deemed significant for your organization are the ones your management system will seek to control.

The environmental aspects need to be regularly reviewed to establish whether the significance to the business has changed and therefore whether it needs some form of control.

A change management process is usually beneficial to consider the possible consequences of proposed changes that may impact on environmental performance. As and when changes, including planned or new developments, and new or modified activities, products and services change, the environmental aspects and significance will need to be reviewed.

Objective evidence must contain established criteria for evaluating significance of aspects (i.e., process or procedure). Also a register/matrix of aspects and impacts may be presented as evidence.

The new ‘Life-cycle Perspective’ consideration of environmental aspects and impacts has been broadened to include an identification and evaluation process to consider aspects associated with:

  1. Natural resources uses (mining, water withdrawal);
  2. Purchased raw materials;
  3. Transportation;
  4. Manufacturing, services, other activities;
  5. By-products: air, waste and waste emissions;
  6. Transportation of products;
  7. Use of products and services;
  8. End of life issues – recycling and disposal.

The identification of environmental aspects will form the foundation of your management system. The aspects that have significant impacts on the environment will become the basis of your organization’s objectives and targets; therefore, you will want to be thorough in completing this step.

Develop a list of the organization’s activities, products, and services can be a difficult task. The activity, product, or service should be small enough to be understood, but large enough to be analyzed.

More information on PDCA


4.1 Understanding Context 4.2 Interested Parties 4.3 Determining Scope
4.4 Management System Processes  
5.1 Leadership and Commitment 5.2 Policies 5.3 Roles, Responsibility and Authority
6.1 Address Risk and Opportunity 6.2 System Objectives and Planning 6.3 Planning for Change


7.1 Resources 7.2 Competence 7.3 Awareness
7.4 Communication 7.5 Documented Information
8.1 Operational Planning and Control 8.2 Requirements for Products and Services 8.3 Design & Development
8.4 Externally Provided Products and Services 8.5 Product and Service Provision 8.6 Release of Products and Services
8.7 Non-conforming Outputs 8.8 Emergency Preparedness 8.9 Accident and Incident Investigation


9.1 Monitor, Measure, Analyse and Evaluate 9.2 Internal Audit 9.3 Management Review


10.1 Improvement - General 10.2 Non-Conformity and Corrective Action 10.3 Continual Improvement

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