Industrialization and manufacturing operations globally no doubt has brought about massive socioeconomic development vis-à-vis the improvement in the quality of life, well being of humans, and prosperity to nations. This however has not been achieved without environmental impact varying in level of significance depending on the nature and size of manufacturing operations among other things. Industries recognizing the associated environmental impacts of their operations have consistently initiated steps to mitigate and/or remediate them in order to comply with statutory environmental regulations and legislations of the country where they operate as well to boost their public reputation as a company.
Environmental Compliance is no longer an option most importantly given the far reaching adverse impact on the components of the environment including air, water, and soil; the legal consequences; and public relations effect resulting from fines and/or closure for violations of environmental laws. Manufacturing and industrial companies across the world are already pledging commitment to environmental protection; reduction of environmental footprint including air pollution, waste generation, water consumption, energy consumption, noise etc.; and adoption of environmentally friendly operations and procedures in order to ensure sustainable development.
It is important for manufacturing industries as corporate citizens to assess their operations for associated environmental impacts and decide to responsibly protect the environment in which they operate. The following is a guide to facilitate excellent environmental performance for any company willing to accept responsibility for environmental management and comply with relevant environmental laws applicable to their operations.
Make Environmental Management and Compliance a Business Concern
As with other operations of the company, environmental management should be considered as a business concern and adjudged the same priority. The top management should show due commitment to the environmental affairs of the company by providing strong and visible leadership; establishing environmental goals and targets; and ensuring adequate resources including financial, human, and technical are available to facilitate environmental management. This applies to Heads of various departments/units especially where the company records higher environmental footprints or environmental aspects. Environmental awareness should be conducted for employees and contractors where applicable to acquaint them with the environmental goals and objectives of the company. Prompt attention should be given to environmental emergencies that arise from operations and ancillary activities in the company with responsibilities assigned to specific personnel for management of environmental aspects.
Identify Relevant Environmental Laws and Regulatory Agencies
Nations across the world have statutory environmental legislations that guide how manufacturing industries interact with the environment with the sole aim of eliminating or reducing harmful impacts. Countries have domesticated international conventions and agreements whilst also establishing others as deemed necessary given specific need of the country. This is coupled with states or provinces establishing environmental laws to protect the environment within their territory or jurisdiction. Statutory environmental laws are enforced by regulatory agencies which can be national, state or even local governments. Manufacturing industries need to get acquainted with environmental laws and legal requirements that are not only relevant to their environmental aspects but also those they are duty bound to comply with whilst considering regulatory agencies as key stakeholders in their efforts to ensure environmental management.
Engage an Environmental Consultant
Environmental Consultants are individuals or firms which have multiple years of requisite experience in various aspects of environmental management. Usually environmental consultants are accredited by relevant regulatory agencies, members of professional organizations with multidisciplinary team that appropriately position them to provide advisory services to manufacturers and industries in managing various environmental aspects. They aid environmental decision of the top management, provide guidance to in-house environmental teams whilst supporting companies to prepare relevant environmental reports and submitting same to regulatory agencies. When they are engaged they are responsible for follow-up of the environmental performance through environmental compliance monitoring, environmental assessments and audits. Environmental consultants are invaluable for environmental monitoring with respect to water pollution, wastewater/effluent discharge, air and noise pollution, waste management and e-waste control, soil pollution and land degradation as well as environmental permits and licensing, EIA/ESIA, Environmental Management Systems (EMS), Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) etc.
Establish an Environmental Team
The environmental team has a peculiar role of coordinating the environmental programme of the company; monitoring the effectiveness of environmental management plans to prevent and/or minimize inimical environmental impact resulting from the company’s environmental aspects. They identify environmental risks; develop measures to minimize them whilst updating workers and contractors regularly on the environmental goals and targets of the company. They also ensure communication with key stakeholders especially the company’s environmental consultant through the designated management representative.
Monitor Environmental Performance
Monitoring is useful for evaluating environmental performance, determining the immediate and remote causes of environmental risks, identifying non-conformances with environmental management plans and the opportunity to effect corrective measures that are required, and reporting of environmental performance to regulatory agencies. The top Management should ensure that an annual or more frequent management review of environmental management structure is conducted to assess the suitability, adequacy, and effectiveness of the company’s environmental management systems. Such reviews should cover among other things the environmental goals and performance, level of compliance with statutory regulations and industry standards to facilitate the continuous improvement of environmental performance and sustainability of the company.
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