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Environment Management in a Perfect Plant – Part 2

Environment Management in a Perfect Plant – Part 2


In this blog I intend to cover ‘Method for analysis of an activity to identify the environmental aspect’ and

‘Method for evaluation of significance of the environmental impact’.

(i am afraid it sounds very heavy! Wish I could add some back ground music from!

May pl refer the earlier also:


First I would like to attempt description of ‘How is it done?’

The steps involved are:

  • 1. Describe department’s responsibility
  • 2. List the activities carried out for fulfilling the responsibility
  • 3. Take up each activity and note down the input, process steps, the out put and the environmental aspects.
  • 4. Take up each aspect and evaluate as per a ‘Factor-wise Points Table’ and arrive at the ‘Significance Score’
  • 5. List the aspects in descending order of the score
  • 6. Identify what contributes to 80% of the total score and select them for attention.


Details for each step:


1. Defining the responsibility

Defining the responsibility is the first step. It is the source. In all probability departments would not have documented it.

Such a step provides an opportunity to step back and look at the end results the department is meant to provide.

The defining task is an interesting one, revealing the existence of variety of understanding within the department!

If the task is combined with finding out what others think about the department, it would further add differing points of view.

The first version may be combination of all these inputs.


2. Listing of activities

An activity must have clear beginning and clear ending.

It must be small enough to understand and big enough for analysis.

Storage is also to be treated as an activity. Planning is also an activity; not only ‘doing’ is to be treated as an activity.


3. Analysis of each activity

 i)  The environmental aspects are with regard to air, water, land, resources, flora, fauna and global issues.

 ii)  For instance they me be emissions, discharges, depletion, conservation, and such happenings.

 iii)  Aspects may be beneficial or adverse.

 iv) Each aspect may be described as much as possible. Wherever data is available, it may be used.   

 v) The aspect may have to be thought about under normal, abnormal and emergency conditions.

 vi) The relation ship between aspect and impact is one of cause and effect. Example, Emission is an aspect;

air pollution is the impact; further the impact may be significant or insignificant, accordingly calling for action.


4. Evaluation of significance

a) In order to evaluate an aspect, the following factors are considered:

  • i) Quantity
  • ii) Frequency of occurrence
  • iii) Impact
  • iv) Availability of detection mechanism
  • v) Availability of controls
  • vi) Applicability of compliance requirements


b) Each factor may exist in various states at the time of analysis. Such as, on a 5-point scale (5, 4, 3, 2,1):

i)  Quantity may exist as – Excessive, High, Moderate, low and very low.

ii) Frequency of occurrence – Continuous, Several times a day, Once a day, Once a week, Less frequent

iii) Impact – This may be further factored on the seven elements and ‘state’ stipulated for each.

iv) Detection mechanism – Might take > 12 Hrs, > 8 hrs, >4 hrs, > 1 hr, Immediate

v) Controls – Absent, In place but not reliable, Effective (3 – point scale: 3, 2,1)

vi) Regulatory requirements – Not complying, in compliance (2 point scale: 10 and 1)


c) For each factor the corresponding point is picked up according to the state and

by multiplying the points for the six factors a score is obtained for each aspect. (Example: 5x3x5x2x1x3x1 = 450)


5. Summary Statement – ‘Aspects register’

A statement is prepared with columns for Serial Number, Aspect, Score, cumulative score, % of Total

The statement may also be called the ‘Aspects register’.


6.80/20 Principle

By referring to the Cumulative% of Total, all the aspects coming under the cut-off point of 80% is marked for attention.


Other points 

The prescribed method is intended to serve as a guide to think through the outcomes of the plant’s activities.

It is facilitated by Forms, Check Lists, Questionnaires, Flow charts.

Whatever is prescribed is revisable and there is room for improvement. It is not supposed to turn out to be a ‘form filling’ exercise.


Though the ‘statement’ is the end result of ‘pen & paper work’ the real end result is the department becoming

thoroughly knowledgeable about their environmental aspects.


Once the ‘understanding’ is through, the rest is part management such as prioritizing, Object and target setting,

resource provision, progressing, reviewing and achieving the set objective.


Even if no action is taken, it would be knowledgeable. Action would be taken depending on the context, sooner than never.

If all the statements are combined, it would become the plant’s ‘Aspect Register’.


As may be noticed, the above method is amenable to IT enablement to derive related benefits.


Secondly, how to organize for it?


Persons responsible

The responsibility for plant wide environment management is better taken up by the person with responsibility at the site,

the head of the location. This person will own the outcome of the analysis and initiate the required action.


Department as a unit

Every plant would have various departments. For environment management each department may be treated as an entity.


One person can make the difference!

The truth of this saying can be realized by designating one individual asthe departmental coordinator for EM. 

Responsibility of overall coordination for EM in the plant may be assigned to another person.


These roles would be alternatively assigned to others subsequently so that in rotation every one would become

well versed in the process of analysis and planning.

A preliminary requirement is that there would be wide spread awareness about environment management and concern at all levels.



Thirdly, some under currents of thoughts


Better Environment Management in a plant is generally an outcome of the way environmental issues are thought about at the work place.


It is not only about how the company complies with regulations. It is not only about how they project themselves green or

it is not only how they take up a particular green project and implement it.

It is a question of how systematically the issues are approached;

how the environmental data would be captured, analyzed and inference drawn.

Such analysis would preferably be regular and reviewed by top management periodically.


Informally, appealingly we can specify many such things in an acceptable way.

Everyone concerned about environment may also specify as to what must be done.

When such a thing is told formally in a structured way, it becomes a standard document to work with.

Such a document is the ISO 14000 series of standards.

Adoption of the standard for managing environmental issues would be a safe bet for a long time, any where in the world!


Fourth, a brief about the EMS standard


Advantages of working as per a standard is well known, be it a product or a service.


This standard has specifications for an Environment Management System.

It defines the scope of application, describes the principles involved, makes clear about terms used with their definition, and

provides an overview of the system, including specifications for various elements.


The standard is implementation oriented. It puts the environmental policy of a company at the centre stage.

It allows any company to start from where they are. These are some of the beautiful features of the standard.

If kept studying and interpreting repeatedly, it keeps on providing meaning for action.


It is a generic standard applicable to any organization.

The management system standard does not impose anything specific for improving environmental performance.

It leaves it to the organization. The standard is reviewed and revised periodically to maintain its relevance.

The standard encourages achievement of better performance through

repetitive cycles of activity taken up one area after another.

It is the flow of information in the management system that enables solution.

The standard is compatible with another standard namely QMS, so that benefit of certain common elements could be availed.

For greater details may please visit:


To conclude: 

The above methods could well be part of an EMS as per the international standard.

Still some stones may be left unturned! Together we can find them.

And by the way buy a CD of svend music! Very nice pieces, indeed.


Sam Anbazhagan

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