With the change in time, as new studies and researches are being done, there is an increase in people believing that the environment needs to be protected so that our future generations do not face the adverse events that can be caused by an imbalance in nature. Most of the companies and organisations are now recognizing the importance of environmental matters and are focusing on improving their environmental performance because there are many interested parties who keep an eye on the environmental performance of any organisation. Environmental audit is an environmental management tool that measures the effects of certain activities on the environment against the pre-defined standards. This audit helps to improve the existing activities of humans that in turn reduces the adverse effects of these activities on the environment. There are many reasons for conducting an environmental audit, which include issues such as environmental legislation and pressure from customers. Environmental auditing is carried out in an already existing developed organisation, and is used to check all the existing practices and to assess the environmental effects of all such practices. Environmental auditing therefore provides a clear picture of what is happening at that point in time in an organization.
The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) has produced a series of standards in the field of environmental auditing. These standards are basically intended to guide organizations and auditors on the general principles common to the execution of environmental audits.
Major areas of Environmental Audit:
- Regulatory Compliance
- Management Systems
- Drinking Water Quality
- Waste Electronics
- Green products
- Best Practices
- Extended Responsibility
Benefits of environmental audit are:
- It is a means for ensuring the continual improvement in environmental management;
- It is a good method of monitoring;
- It can assist efforts for sustainable development;
- It can help involve the people in environmental management;
- It may reduce the need for government inspections;
- It may help identify cost recovery through recycling and sale of by-products, etc.; and
- It may generate valuable data for regional or national environment reports.
During the course of company’s quest for an environmental system, two audits are done. The first audit is done to know what a company actually does and how it affects the environment. The second audit is conducted to see whether an environmental system works according to its procedures and that objectives and targets are being achieved.
The environmental audit includes the following:
(i) Internal audit;
(ii) External audit;
(iii) Aspects and impacts analysis;
(iv) Applicable legislations;
(v) Environmental objectives and targets;
(vi) Environmental policy statement; and
(vii) Corporate environmental plan.
The internal audit is the first step to list the key factors that the internal analysis might encompass and then conduct an internal appraisal. The result of this internal analysis is used to form the basis of other audits and analysis of the environmental audit report.
Environmental audit is very helpful in today’s scenario as the people and organisations are rooting for sustainable development. It helps the organisations to keep a check on their practices and make certain improvements if their activities are affecting the environment in an adverse manner
Written by Yaminee Verma @LEXCLIQ