Ten years ago, on the 20th April 2010, during the final phases of drilling onboard the Deepwater Horizon of an exploratory well at Macondo, a geyser of seawater erupted, followed by an eruption of a slushy combination of drilling mud, methane gas and water.  The gas component transitioned into a fully gaseous state and then ignited into a series of explosions.  At the time, 126 crew were on board, with 11 workers presumed killed in the initial explosion.

The explosion caused the largest oil spill in American history, which continued for 87 days.  As a result, this incident halved BP’s market capitalisation, wiping approximately $360 billion off its value.  In the aftermath of the incident, large corporations around the world reviewed their own business activities and systems with a view to avoid a similar crisis happening to them.

Lots of issues have been highlighted by the Deepwater Horizon disaster, many of a technical nature, but also alleged poor corporate organisation, culture and communication both before and after the event.

Your organisation may not be involved in an incident on the scale of Deepwater Horizon, but it is likely that your organisation will have an impact on the environment.

What can you do to reduce your environmental impact?

A good starting point for organisations is to thoroughly review their own environmental risks and to ensure that they have workable and robust systems in place to manage these risks.  An Environmental Management System (EMS) is an effective way of achieving this.

An EMS should be part of a company’s overall management system and will include organisational structure, planning activities, responsibilities, practices, procedures, processes and resources for developing, implementing, achieving and maintaining a company’s Environmental Policy.

It is important to stress, that successful Environmental Management Systems are those that get embedded in the business, by the business.  They must be part of the culture.

An EMS can be certified through schemes such as ISO 14001 or the Eco-Management and Audit Scheme, but this is voluntary.  Certification of an EMS is however, a highly visible and demonstrable way of showing customers, suppliers, investors and the general public that a company is committed to meeting its environmental responsibilities.

An effective EMS should include:

  • The development of an Environmental Policy, which is a statement of a company’s commitment to the environment and can be used as a framework for planning and action
  • An assessment of corporate activities, products, processes and services that might affect the environment
  • Details of environmental regulations and legislation that apply to the business and how to comply with these
  • Written procedures to control and document activities that could have a significant environmental impact
  • An environmental improvement programme, including policies and procedures to manage waste and resources
  • Defined environmental roles and responsibilities for staff
  • A formal and recorded staff training and environmental awareness programme
  • Systems for internal and external communications on environmental management issues
  • A record of environmental performance against set targets
  • Systems to identify and correct problems and prevent their recurrence
  • Emergency procedures to follow in the event of an environmental incident
  • Periodic audit to verify that the EMS is operating as intended
  • Formal review by senior management with a view to adapting and improving the EMS as necessary
  • The buy in and support of all staff including the board

Benefits of an effective EMS:

For some organisations, EMS is a moral and ethical issue, but for others the return on investment calculation will be an imperative.  Many argue that all these objectives can be achieved.  Here are some of the benefits:

  • A reduction in environmental incidents and improved reputation
  • A marketing advantage and in many tenders, EMS is now a fundamental requirement
  • An improvement in regulatory performance and therefore lower risk of fines for non-compliance with environmental legislation
  • A focused, knowledgeable and motivated workforce
  • A reduction in waste, including raw materials, utility waste and waste disposal costs
  • The opportunity of attracting more customers, investors and shareholders
  • Increased profits from lower costs

Despite the economic climate, one thing is for sure and that is, there will be a global and local government environmental agendas.  Companies, big and small, need to take this subject seriously.  There will be more regulation as the years pass, and the earlier organisations embrace the issue, the better.

What can Cardinus do for your organisation?

Cardinus has been certified for ISO 14001, therefore, we have the experience and expertise to help you implement and maintain an EMS.  We can even help you with your audits.

For help and advice about your Environmental Management System, please complete the online enquiry form or email [email protected].


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