Building a workplace that is safe and sustainable is the responsibility of every organization, regardless of its size and nature of business. Environment, Health & Safety (EHS) Management Systems play a crucial role in making an organization environment friendly as well as meeting regulatory compliance. (This is in addition to the role of an EHS in helping build a culture of health and safety at the workplace).
However, it is not enough just to tick the boxes on a mandatory checklist. Today, more has become the norm because customers demand it and the regulatory bodies are watching more closely.
Most importantly, an organization that has a culture of environmental sustainability, reaps immense benefits from a brand image perspective. In fact, building a brand with a focus on ESG (environmental, social, and governance) parameters has become extremely popular, especially among millennials and the younger generation. Needless to say, being careful about the environment is not only about protection against litigations but also about delivering societal impact.
What Is Environmental Compliance?
Environmental Compliance is a set of rules and regulations framed by governments and other regulatory bodies to protect the environment even as businesses continue to manufacture and reach out to different markets. This is to reduce pollution, protect wildlife as well as improve the green cover so that we may bequeath a greener world to posterity while pursuing economic development.
The idea is to enable organizations to think more deeply about the impact they are leaving on the environment.
Environmental Compliance Challenges:
Environmental Compliance is a continuous process. It is dynamic and challenging due to the following reasons:
- A multinational organization has to keep track of and follow the acts and rules of all the countries it operates in. These rules are different for every country, attracting different penalties.
- Environmental Laws are dynamic. The acts are frequently amended. Keeping track of such additions and omissions is complex. This can be challenging especially since the key decision-makers are sitting far away and local teams may not be equipped to understand the implications of evolving regulations.
Despite these challenges, it is the duty of an organization to comply with environmental laws. The Law cannot be taken for granted just because of the practical difficulties an organization faces in its implementation.
What happens when a company does not comply with environmental laws? Of course, it is going to pay hefty fines and penalties. But that is not the end. Non-Compliance leads to disruption in the business, financial losses, damage in reputation, loss of market share, and, in some adverse cases, leads to the closure of the business as well. But the ultimate risk is that non-compliance causes infinite damage to the ecology and the society that can last for eons.
- The BP oil spill of 2010 cost the company almost $65 billion in legal fees, settlements, and funds for clean-up and restoration by 2018. The damage to the surrounding ecosystems lasted longer and it is said to be still recovering from the impact.
- The disaster caused by Union Carbide in Bhopal, India, has had a longer run, having occurred in 1984, and apart from the deaths and injury due to the accident, continues to threaten the environment because of poor disposal of toxic waste.
5 Steps To Meet Environmental Compliance:
Every responsible business with a commitment to the environment must observe the following 5 steps:
- Understand the laws and regulations clearly: As said before, the laws are different for every size, location, and nature of business. Be aware of those environmental legislations that are relevant to your organization.
- Build workflows: Adopt business practices to stay compliant with the legislation. Build an automated process and workflow, supported by a cloud-based solution. ComplianceQuest’s EHS solution has a module focused on helping enterprises across sectors meet their sustainability and environmental goals. From oil and gas companies to healthcare firms – a wide range of companies across industries use our Sustainability and Environment solutions.
Check this out here: http://www.compliancequest.com/environment-and-sustainability-solutions/
- Continuous Improvement: Undertaking frequent self-assessments on a regular basis and establishing corrective measures to remove deviations.
- Regulatory Needs: Submission of Status Reports and other documentation to the regulatory bodies.
- Stay up to date: Renewal of Environmental Permits and Licenses.
Achieved Compliance! What Next?
Your company has followed the rule book, achieved compliance, and made regulatory bodies happy. But what next?
The key next step is to build long-term sustainability practices, with a keen eye on how they enhance brand differentiation and competitiveness while simultaneously delivering societal impact.
An automated workflow for environment and sustainability practices also ensures that your employees are trained in necessary processes. Additionally, risk assessment, change management, and corrective action/preventive action become easier with an automated system.
Benefits Of Thinking Beyond Compliance:
While compliance is important, having a robust environmental management system can prove beneficial in many other ways:
- Reduction in costs: For any organization, reducing costs is the primary objective. Achieving this becomes a lot easier when you follow sustainable practices and reduce waste. A robust EHS system can help identify potential areas of improvement.
- Reduced carbon footprint: By adopting sustainable business practices, you can reduce the carbon footprint drastically. Examples: Switching over to renewable energy; and E-filing of documents instead of printing on paper. An automated system improves operational productivity and can also help with optimizing the use of resources.
- Corporate Social Responsibility: Sustainability and Corporate Social Responsibility are two sides of a single coin. When your company becomes sustainable, it is automatically going to be beneficial to society. This can enhance your brand image and result in an expanded customer base.
- Maximize Profits: Establishing a culture of environmental safety and the resultant benefits in terms of cost savings, operational efficiency and enhanced brand image can improve profitability. Risk mitigation including that of litigations is in itself a great benefit that cannot be quantified.
ComplianceQuest Environment and Sustainability Solution helps business leaders proactively and accurately monitor and measure your company’s impact on the environment. It can automate and digitally transform your process to help improve sustainability performance.
CQ’s Environment and Sustainability solution is designed to help with the following:
- Establish Ambitious Environmental Objectives
- Track Sustainability Metrics
- Identify and document ‘Aspect and Impact’
- Report Spills and Releases
- Permit Management
- Act on Notice of Violation
- Regulatory Content Library for Training Purposes
We also recently completed a webinar on the same subject. Watch it here: