A4.8 Environmental Management


Environmental Management is simply the management of environmental impacts. It does not consider the economic or social impact, only the environmental. However, it is often true that good environmental management will bring with it economic and social benefits.

A financial example:

An organisation manages its environmental impacts and identifies that waste production is a key impact of its activities. It takes steps to reduce the waste that is produced. This may include changing processes to become efficient in their use of materials, which will bring with it financial benefits as less materials are required. The reduction in the volume of waste generated will reduce waste disposal costs. Finally, the organisation may recycle the waste that it cannot eliminate, which may be cheaper than disposal.

A social example:

An organisation may use a hazardous substance in a product. Through eliminating the use of this substance there may be social benefits. The employees at the production site will no longer be exposed to the hazardous substance.

The effect of the hazardous substances in our products can have widespread consequences. It has been widely reported in the media over the last couple of years that waste from the UK (and indeed many other countries, notably the US and Spain) has been sent to India for disposal.

Much of this waste is recyclable. According to the International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development (reported in September 2008) the reason for this is that is can cost “£148 to recycle a tonne of waste and as little as £40 to export it to India”.

Tehelka Magazine reported in October 2009 that the problem is exacerbated by the fact that India actively imports recyclable materials, such as plastics, to be recycled in dedicated recycling plants. However, when the waste arrives, the recyclable fraction may be as little as 20%. The remaining non-recyclable waste is then discarded. Not all of the waste travels a direct route; some waste from the US arrives in India via Saudi Arabia, which makes the problem much harder to control. The report continues to state that the ministry of environment and forests has granted permission for a new recycling plant is to import 8,000 metric tonnes of obsolete and discarded IT products from the UK and USA.

It is an unfortunate fact that large amounts of waste are discarded in uncontrolled environments. This can lead to pollution in the watercourses that local people use for drinking and washing.