Here we shine a spotlight on one of the core subjects of the Standard to see how it could relate to your organisation.

What is fair Environmental Responsibility?

ISO 20400 describes it as precondition for the survival and prosperity of humans and other living beings. It covers:

  • prevention of pollution
  • sustainable resource use
  • climate change mitigation and adaptation
  • protection of the environment, biodiversity and restoration of natural habitats

Having an impact…

Environment is usually the very first thing that comes to mind when you hear the word ‘sustainability’. That’s because concerns for environmental protection and improvement have been promoted since the 1960s. Laws were created to help avoid environmental disasters from unsafe practices and irresponsible waste practices, yet damage caused from chemical plant leakages, oil spills, asbestos dumping and from plastics in our waterways continues. But changes are happening:

  • some companies are making fundamental changes to their business, striving to become sustainable, like Adidas creating a shoe where each pair contains 11 plastic bottles dredged from the ocean. The shoes are selling in the millions and supports Adidas’ ultimate ambition to eliminate virgin plastic from their supply chain
  • others are evolving to profit from environmental initiatives, like Nanosolarstriving to make solar power as affordable as electricity produced by coal and natural gas. Its panels are lighter, cheaper, as efficient as traditional solar panels, and silicon free. Nanosolar is producing the cells at one-tenth of the cost of traditional cells
  • even those that only take small steps, making more subtle changes, can make a difference and achieve long term financial and reputational benefits. Like the small company, referenced in the Australian Government Department of Environment’s booklet: “profiting from environmental improvement in business’: GT Motors Panel Beating and Spray Painting saved around a third of their annual cost for paint and thinners by switching to High Volume Low Pressure Spray Guns. They also reduced exhaust emission to the surrounding environment by upgrading its spray booth and baking oven. These and other changes resulted in a cleaner and safer work environment for its staff and increased productivity

What to think about

Things to ask yourself:

  • what affect are your organisation’s practices and those of your key suppliers having on the environment?
  • could you be doing more for the environment and for your organisation?

Where to start

Why not try one of these as a starting point?

  • investigate ways your organisation and your suppliers can reduce consumption of energy, fuel and water
  • consider a life-cycle approach to your purchasing or production – minimising waste by for example, increasing recycling, reducing packaging, reusing materials or composting or donating (e.g. food)
  • review voluntary industry codes of conduct and the international environmental standard ISO 14000 series