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Archive for the ‘Environmental Management’ Category

Climate change is seen as any long-term change in the statistics of weather over a specific time period; this time period can range from decades to millions of years. Climate change can be expressed in several different ways, such as a change in the weather conditions, the probability of extreme conditions, or any other part of statistical weather distribution. Climate change can take place across the whole Earth, or only parts of the Earth, like in a specific regions.

When does Climate Change occur?

The weather condition that is climate change occurs when the average temperature of the Earth shows a dramatic change over time. Due to the fact that the ecosystem of the Earth is dependent on a very delicate balance, as little as one or two degrees is considered as a dramatic climate change; this means that even small shifts can have a much more far-reaching impact than we realize. Climate change can also occur due to a drop in average temperature; however, the term global warming is used widely these days to explain a drop in average temperature.

 

What are the Causes of Climate Change?

Humans are considered the big sinner which encourages climate change through their activities. The burning of fossil fuels like coal and oil, which produces byproducts such as carbon dioxide gas, is a common human activity. Trees and other plants are responsible for transforming the emitted carbon dioxide into oxygen. However, unfortunately there are not enough plants on Earth to perform this critical function, which means that the carbon dioxide remains in the Earth’s atmosphere as a greenhouse gas. Through a process known as the greenhouse effect, the carbon dioxide traps solar heat, which leads to the warming of the Earth.

Other causes of climate change which are the result of human activity are deforestation, or the widespread cutting of trees, as well as methane gas production. Methane is produced in large amounts through landfills, mining, rice paddies, and large scale livestock farming. Fertilizers which give off nitrous oxide also contribute to pollutant levels which ultimately lead to the weather condition called climate change.

 

What are the Effects of Climate Change?

The melting of permafrost near the North Pole which are then responsible for rising sea levels, are one effect of climate change which can be seen already. Shrinking island land masses and coastlines are also the result of rising ocean levels.

Reduced wildlife populations is another effect climate change brings about. Certain animal species, like the polar bear, are slowly losing their icy habitats; for this reason they have shown smaller populations over the last couple of years.

Environmental crimes are best described as those crimes which are committed against the environment. It is interesting to note that environmental crimes do not only harm the environment, but it also has a negative impact on the overall quality of life as well as on the economy. Environmental crime is considered as extremely serious and, as such, it is broken down into two categories, namely (i) pollution and (ii) threads to endangered species. When environmental crimes are committed, it is not generally out of a desire to destroy the environment, although it has the end effect of causing environmental damage.

Categories of Environmental Crimes

 

  • Pollution

Environmental crimes can take the form of inadvertent leakage of toxins into the natural environment, failing to secure toxins correctly, or dumping toxic material, among other things. Soil, land, and air are then polluted as a result of the release of toxins. Pollution has the ability to directly cause serious environmental harm or even death. Such an example is when chemical spills cause health problems in small communities or kill off entire animal populations. The impact of pollution may also be more subtle and long lasting, like in the case of chemical DDT; it does not always kill animals outright, but it does contribute to the decline of a lot of animal populations.

  • Threats to Endangered Species

Environmental crimes can either be committed directly or indirectly. Criminals can commit environmental crimes directly by slaughtering endangered animals. Indirectly, criminals may cause damage to the habitats of endangered animals, which results in population pressure and subsequently puts these animals in danger. Slaughter and dealing in endangered species are two environmental crimes which are severely prosecuted by international agreement, except in the case of breeding programs and zoological parks. Due to the conflicting interests of companies and the endangered species in question, damage to habitat is an environmental crime which is difficult to regulate and prosecute.

Importance of Fighting Environmental Crimes

 

The only way to ensure that there will be an environment for future generations to enjoy is by fighting environmental crimes. We as humans are the only ones who can do something regarding environmental crimes; humans should ensure that the environment is a safe and wholesome place for plants and animals to live, since all forms of life are interconnected.

Contact us - environmental management consultants in South Africa!

Green Scorpions are the name given to the more than 600 Environmental Management Inspectors (EMI’s) roaming South Africa. The Green Scorpions basically enforce environmental law, and subsequently chase down those who trespasses this law. The primary areas of enforcement include biodiversity, protected areas, pollution and waste, as well as coastal, marine and environmental impact assessment. The Green Scorpions are made up of different levels of Environmental Management Inspectors, each of which has different powers when it comes to investigating and enforcing environmental legislation.

How do the Green Scorpions enforce
Environmental Law?

 

The degree to which South Africa’s environmental laws are enforced have been facilitated, as the national network of environmental officials which makes up the Green Scorpions share intelligence, experience, standardized training, and standardized procedures. During the course of their duties, the Green Scorpions have the authority to enter premises in order to perform routine inspections to check for compliance, arrest people, question witnesses, seize evidence, take samples, establish roadblocks, and issue compliance notices.

What are the main differences between Scorpions
and Green Scorpions

 

Some fundamental differences between the Scorpions and the Green Scorpions are as follows:

  • The Scorpions are part of a single institution; they are a directorate of the national prosecuting authority, while the Green Scorpions are a network of environmental enforcement officials drawn from many spheres of government;
  • The Green Scorpions do not only chase down green criminals; they also have the authority to issue notices which force offenders to comply with environmental legislation;
  • While the Scorpions can investigate and prosecute offenders, the Green Scorpions cannot go as far as the courts, which means they have to hand over their criminals to the national prosecuting authority to handle their prosecution on behalf of them.

Which Acts do the Green Scorpions enforce?

 

The main acts which the Green Scorpions are mandated to enforce are the National Environmental Management Act (NEMA), including all its promulgated regulations, such as the Air Quality Act, the Protected Areas Act, and the Biodiversity Act.

Who can be designated as Green Scorpions?

 

Only people who are employed by the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism (DEAT), provincial environment departments, municipal governments, or quasi-government bodies such as Sanparks, Sanbi, or the Greater St Lucia Wetland Park Authority can be designated as Green Scorpions.

Industrial ecology is a rather new discipline in the field of science. Industrial ecology focuses mainly on the environment, technology, and the economy, as well as the relationship between these three areas. Studies and research relating to industrial ecology includes environmental stewardship, environmental policies, biodegradable products, extending the life cycle of products, and in general making the world a safer and more eco-friendly place.

Why the need for Industrial Ecology?

 

Industrial ecology emerged due to the fact that people began to realize and take note of the impact the industrial world was having on the environment. The field of industrial ecology was thus created to ensure that the impact of the industrialized world on the environment would rather be a positive one than a negative one. Industrial ecology investigates how the industrialized world can live in unity with the environment. Industrial ecology studies the flow of resources, such as water, energy, products, and materials. Industrial ecology also studies the manner in which these mentioned resources flow through the world and how that flow is structured.

What is the importance of Industrial Ecology

 

Technology is also an important part of industrial ecology as it can help sustain a greener environment. Industrial ecologists use technological resources in order to create an environment which promotes sustainability. The phrase “science of sustainability” is sometimes used to describe industrial ecology. Industrial ecologists seek to solve sustainability problems and subsequently create a system in the world which uses natural ways together with technical scientific tools in order to solve the deteriorating environment we live in.

 Global Warming as part of Industrial Ecology

 

Global warming is one of industrial ecology’s main focus areas. Contrasting views are offered by scientists regarding global warming. Some researchers believe that global warming is cyclical and is the result of a natural occurrence which occurs every several thousand years. However, other researchers believe that global warming is a man-induced problem; they believe that global warming can be reversed or abated through the reduction of man’s carbon-footprint. Thus, industrial ecology has an important role to play in solving the problem concerning global warming, as it not only considers how materials are impacting the environment, but also how waste and byproducts can be eliminated in a way that does not have such a devastating impact on the environment.

An Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is an assessment of the possible impact, either positive or negative, that a proposed project might have on the environment. During an environmental impact assessment natural, social, and economic aspects are taken into consideration. An environmental impact assessment is performed to ensure that decision makers consider the ensuing environmental impacts to decide whether or not to proceed with the project.

The International Association for Impact Assessment (IAIA) defines an environmental impact assessment as “the process of identifying, predicting, evaluating, and mitigating the biophysical, social, and other relevant effects of development proposals prior to major decisions being taken and commitments made.”

If you need help with an EIA, Book a consultation TODAY

Purpose of Environmental Impact Assessments

The purpose of an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is providing a recognized and replicable process to identify the potential environmental effects of certain development types. The findings of an environmental impact assessment are contained within an Environmental Statement (ES). The environmental statement is then used to assist authorities in their consideration of the development’s effects on the environment. It thus plays an important role in their decision on whether a development should be approved or not.


Importance of Environmental Impact Assessments

An Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is an important system developed to assess development projects at different levels. After the completion of an environmentalimpact assessment, precautionary and polluter pays principles is applied to prevent, limit, or require strict liability or insurance coverage to a project, based on its likely harms. Environmental impact assessments are more often than not also very controversial.

Procedure to be followed:

  • Internal environmental compliance assessment audits are planned, scheduled, and implemented by the Environmental Management Representative (EMR) or designee. The identification of required resources forms part of the responsibilities of the EMR or designee;
  • The environmental compliance assurance program are developed and maintained by the EMR or designee. The EMR or designee also issues program support documents that are based on company environmental compliance assurance guidelines;
  • During the compliance assessment audit, assessment team members will gather information which includes checked items, interviewed personnel, and any possible regulatory non-compliance issues. The EMR or designee is then notified by the assessment team regarding any regulatory non-compliance. Facility management is then notified by the EMR or designee upon verification of non-compliance;
  • The assessment team, together with the responsible and accountable area or department representative review possible regulatory non-compliance issues. It is also the assessment team’s responsibility to prepare a CAR which identifies issues, corrective and preventative actions required, as well as the personnel responsible for completing these actions. The EMR or designee and area or department manager will meet with the CAR before its issuance;
  • After the preventative and corrective actions have been completed, the area or department manager will acknowledge completion of these actions by means of signing the original CAR and returning it o the EMR or designee;
  • A member of the assessment team will verify corrective and preventative actions. As soon as full compliance is determined or corrective and preventative actions has been accepted, an assessment team member will sign the original CAR and return it to the EMR or designee for closure and filing; and
  • A summary of open CAR’s based on regulatory non-compliance will be presented each calendar quarter by the EMR or designee to the facility management for review.

The Gap Analysis Audit is the initial review of your organization’s existing Environmental Management System (EMS). It serves as a foundation for the implementation of a modern management system. During the Gap Analysis Audit, your organization’s environmental management system is measured against the requirements of ISO 14001.

Book a consultation with one of our consultants if you need help with ISO Gap Analysis Audits.

What does An ISO 14001 Gap Analysis do?

  • The areas of improvement in your existing environmental management system are revealed;
  • Your existing environmental management system are investigated against the principal requirements of ISO 14001; and
  • It places focus on the components of the environmental management system, and its effectiveness.

 

Performing the ISO 14001 Gap Analysis Audit – What to expect

You can expect the following from us:

  • A visit to your site in order to conduct interviews with senior staff and other employees, as well as to observe working conditions and practices to gain an understanding of your organization and associated potential risks;
  • Launch and examination into your existing environmental management system, i.e. objectives, policy, programmes and targets, training and competency, assessing risk and risk control, emergency procedures, operational control, auditing programmes, and performance measurement;
  • Identifying gaps, by means of comparing the environmental management system components to ISO 14001 requirements;
  • Examination of existing arrangements: organization, policies, procedures;
  • Examination of records, assessments, and other key documentation; and
  • Discussion on findings and agreeing on possible actions.

Benefits of performing an ISO 14001 Gap Analysis Audit

  • A dedicated consultant with a project plan uniquely designed for your organization;
  • A user-friendly, unbiased report concerning your environmental management system. The report usually contains a prioritized action plan together with recommendations on how to address any non-conformances;
  • A clear focus on areas of improvement within your environmental management system and how to achieve them in line with ISO 14001;
  • Being assured that the audit is carried out under the internationally recognized ISO 14001 procedures; and
  • Feedback presentation to senior management on findings and options.

Contact us to assist you with the setting up of Environmental Manuals.

If your business wants to be a success over the long-term, a well-written, consistently followed environmental management manual is non-negotiable. All environmental aspects concerning your business is standardized and documented in your organization’s environmental management manual. It can be viewed as a training textbook, helping all employees understand the finer details of environmental management. Even your clients can be assured of a consistent and pleasant experience.

Writing your Company Environmental Manual

When in the process of writing your environmental management manual, ensure that it is readable. Also use practical, easy-to-understand language.

Steps to be followed during your Environmental Manual Draft

Step 1: Setting Goals for Yourself

 

As you write the manual, consider the goals you would ultimately like to reach.

Step 2: Creating a Visual Overview your Business

 

You should create an organization chart for your business. Each area of responsibility should be addressed. A visual overview of the business should thus be created.

Step 3: Writing your Environmental Management Manual

 

A different section should be assigned for each aspect of the business. These include:

  • Outlining each section;
  • Developing a job description for the person responsible;
  • Listing all tasks necessary;
  • Writing down each task’s involvement; and
  • Spelling out step-by-step instructions to be followed.

Pictures, diagrams, or charts can be used to clarify your points. During this step, you should consider all things that could possibly go wrong and subsequently list them together with steps to correct them.

Step 4: Receiving Feedback

 

It is a good idea to ask someone with a similar background as your reader to go through the document and give feedback. Afterwards you will know whether steps were missed, details not mentioned, or words and concepts not easily understood.

Step 5: Reviewing your Environmental Management Manual

 

Now is the time to write your second draft. Consider hiring a professional editor if the manual is for others to use.

Step 6: Scheduling Regular Reviews

You should consider reviewing and updating the environmental management manual on an annual basis. As soon as new products or services are available, or changes made to existing products or services, the manual should be updated.

Maintains Customer Satisfaction

Environmental concerns have never been more important than in this day and age we are living in now. It doesn’t matter whether you are selling direct to the public, or into another industry, environmental concerns form part of your company. Most purchasing agents would agree that if factors such as delivery, quality, and pricing were equal they would rather choose vendors which have Environmental Management System (EMS) programs in place than those who do not.

Environmental guidelines are already imposed by some purchasing departments for their vendors. If you are considered as a small supplier, you should remember that all down line vendors are taken into account by all Environmental Management System programs. This could have a negative impact on your current business relationship.

Prevents Insurance Rate Hikes

Insurance companies are only now realising the excessive costs associated with environmental clean-up. The special insurance riders they make use off have a direct cost impact on the customer.

A certified Environmental Management System protects businesses from additional environmental insurance rate hikes.

Financial Support Gained

Whether you are a multi-national corporation or simply a one man operation, fact is you will always have to work with outside contributors regarding the funding of your business. Those who might have a direct stake in your business include shareholders, investors, or your local bank. These mentioned contributors will support you that much more if they know you are very serious about environmental responsibilities, no matter what their investment category.

Differentiating yourself from your competitors

A documented Environmental Management System can be considered as your “trump card”. The general public and purchasing agents in particular are on the look-out for something that sets you apart from other companies offering the same. Thus, if your business has a solid Environmental Management System program, you can be sure that it will not go by unnoticed by purchasing agents.

Apart from setting you apart from your competition, it can also open up new opportunities for the future. For example, big companies will not even think of buying from you if you do not have an Environmental Management System program in place. Having an Environmental Management System in place is a requirement all their vendors must comply to. Although this currently applies only to tier one vendors, it could soon include all vendors supplying tier one vendors. This in turn means that if big companies are supplied by one of your customers, they could soon be required to buy only from companies with an established Environmental Management System.

Compliance to Government Standards

In order to ensure that you comply above and beyond all national requirements, you should have a documented Environmental Management System in place. The embarrassment of violating environmental regulations can thus be avoided.

Having an established Environmental Management System in place also allows you to participate in various environmental programs held annually. You can look forward to many additional benefits once you form part of such programs.

Improved Productivity

The main goal of an Environmental Management System program is to find and address efficiency through the conservation and reduction of energy and materials. Cost savings should thus be the lasting result. However, the results will vary from one business to the next, because all businesses differ. Learning skills needed to pinpoint potential cost reductions are of the utmost importance.

International Trade Standards Compliance

Stringent environmental regulations were imposed in many countries over the last few years. All businesses working with overseas clients will have experienced this. Canada, China, the EU, and India in particular imposed environmental regulations which are extremely strict. Other countries are thus coming to the realization that in order for fair trade to continue, they too have to up their environmental regulations. They should also adapt to the ever changing environmental laws or risk billions in trade revenue.

Savings through Effective Waste Management

Cost savings can also be achieved through the conservation and reduction of waste disposal. If all processes leading up to waste is conserved and reduced, your byproduct will be less wasted. Costs related to compliance, waste hauling, storage, and disposal are thus eliminated.

We can help you with the following:

 

  • Implement your Environmental Management System;
  • Preparing for the Certification Audit;
  • Update/ adjust your current Environmental Management System;
  • Managing and Maintaining Environmental Management Systems;
  • Environmental Management System Development;
  • Compiling an Environmental Manual Draft;
  • Conducting a Review of current Policies and Procedures;
  • Development of Environmental Control Policies and Procedures;
  • Development of Document Control Policies and Procedures;
  • Conducting Internal Environmental Management System Audits;
  • Conducting Gap Analysis Audits;
  • Conducting Supplier/Third Party Audits;
  • Documentation Management and Control;
  • Service regarding Advise and Consultancy;
  • Conducting a study concerning Environmental Due Diligence.

 

We at RynMag will ensure that we deliver our best services that your business is ready for your ISO 14001 Certification.