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Environmental Audit

As the importance of sustainable practice continues to grow, it becomes crucial for businesses to assess and improve their environmental compliance level and performance. An effective tool in achieving this is the environmental audit, inspecting all aspects of an organization’s environmental compliance in their products, activities, and services.

Enviropass is equipped to perform environmental audits with an Environmental Compliance Auditor (ECA)

What is an environmental audit?

As a rule of thumb, the audit is an assessment that checks if an organization adheres to environmental regulations and standards. An environmental auditor assesses a company’s compliance or performance through site visits, tests on products, interviews etc.

Analyzing a company’s impact, with the aim of identifying areas of non-compliance and areas needing improvement.

This audit covers a wide range of environmental aspects, some examples include:

oil management
  • Emissions: Evaluation of air pollution, including volatile organic compounds (VOCs), greenhouse gases, and other pollutants.

 

  • Water Management: Assessment of water use, wastewater production, and discharge procedures.
radioactive substances compliance
  • Waste Management: Examining the production, classification, storage, movement, and disposal of waste.

 

  • Hazardous Substances: Identification and evaluation of the use, storage, handling, and disposal of hazardous materials. This includes assessing compliance with regulations related to chemical management such as EU REACH, labeling, material safety data sheets (MSDS), and spill response plans. Even designed product must meet substances concentration thresholds, like the RoHS ones for electronics.

Environmental Compliance Audit (ECA)

A common type of environmental audit is the ECA. An ECA focuses on the applicable environmental regulations and compliance.

  • Compliance with Environmental Regulations: Investigation of the organization’s adherence to relevant national, regional, and local environmental laws, regulations, and permits. This entails assessing the need for reporting and record-keeping, the conditions of permits, and compliance with certain environmental standards.

 

Some examples of environmental regulations are:

  • Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA): This federal legislation regulates and controls substances that are toxic to human health or the environment, including their production, import, use, and release.
  • Clean Air Act (United States): Sets standards for air quality and regulates emissions of pollutants from industrial sources, vehicles, and other sources
  • Paris Agreement (International): An international treaty that aims to limit global warming by keeping the average global temperature rise well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.
  • REACH Regulation (European Union): Requires registration, evaluation, authorization, and restriction of chemicals to ensure their safe use and minimize risks to human health and the environment.

Why get one?

There is a variety of reasons why an audit would be necessary, some obligatory, but most being a company’s intention to be transparent and abide by environmental regulations.

Here are the most common reasons why a company would seek an environmental audit:

Three possible environmental audits under ISO 14001

  • ISO 14001: Audits are a critical part of obtaining this environmental management standard. In fact, this standard triggers 3 possible audits:
    1. One Environmental Compliance Audit on applicable obligations (voluntary or legally binding)
    2. One internal audit on the ISO 14001 management system and its performance
    3. One external audit. This one is only applicable when an organization wants to officialise its ISO 14001 achievement.
Audit Checklist

Other EMS

  • Enhancing Other Environmental Management Systems: These audits are an efficient tool for businesses to assess their environmental management systems (EMS). Organisations can improve their EMS to ensure continued compliance and improvement by identifying gaps in their system. Regular audits offer feedback for enhancing policies, practises, and training initiatives. Examples of other EMS include:

 

    1. QC 080000: Focused on the management of restricted substances in EEE. The recommended audit is an ISO 19011 annual audit. The audit’s objective to evaluate the Hazardous Substance Process Management (HSPM).
    1. NAS 411: Stemming from the Civil Aviation Environmental Committee this standard aims to achieve the hazardous materials management program(HMMP).

Other goals

  • Assessing Compliance and Identifying Risks: Organisations can reduce the risk of fines, penalties, legal obligations, and reputational loss by identifying areas of non-compliance. It also helps with proactive risk management, a safer workplace, and environmental incident prevention.
  • Strengthening Relationships: Environmental compliance audits demonstrate a company’s commitment to the environment. This dedication promotes credibility and confidence among all parties, including clients, staff, regulatory bodies, etc. Environmental compliance helps strengthen their brand reputation and set themselves apart from competing businesses.
  • Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG): This European report evaluates an organisation’s environmental, social, and governance impacts of the company’s products and activities. All aspects of this report could be expressed through various types of audits.

Who can perform an environmental audit?

Environmental auditor

Environmental audits can be conducted by various professionals who possess the necessary expertise and knowledge in environmental regulations and auditing techniques. In Quebec certification can be obtained from the Quebec Association of Environmental Auditing (QAEA). Those who obtain certification are found on the list on the QAEA’s website demonstrating they meet specifications.

There is a broad scope of candidates as an environmental audit is not limited to just one profession. Although certification can be obtained from the QAEA it is not necessary for auditors to have. However, it is important to select auditors who possess the relevant qualifications, experience, and knowledge to ensure the credibility and effectiveness of the environmental audit process.

Certifiers

Here are some examples of credible certifiers and standard publishers:

  • Standard Council of Canada (SCC): Among many things organisation body certifies bodies in Canada to be credible to certify auditors.
  • The European Committee for Electrotechnical Standardization (CENELC): Creates voluntary electrotechnical standards that assist the growth of the Single European Market by facilitating international trade, opening new markets, and reducing compliance costs.
  • French Standardization Association (AFNOR): A French certification body that certifies products, services, management systems or personal skills.
  • International Organization for Standardization (ISO): An independent, non-governmental worldwide organisation creates standards for several industries, including social responsibility, occupational health and safety, environmental management, and quality management. Standards are distinctly marked with ISO followed by a 5-digit number.

 

For certain purposes such as the ISO 14001 recognition of your company, an external auditor is necessary. However, even if an external auditor is not required for your needs, it is important that the chosen auditors is independent, impartial, and capable of providing accurate and reliable assessments of an organization’s environmental performance.

In Short

In a world facing environmental challenges, organizations must do their part to be green. By conducting audits of an organization’s products, activities, and services is a crucial step towards achieving this goal. By ensuring compliance with environmental regulations, organizations not only mitigate risks but also drive sustainable practices, strengthen stakeholder relationships, and enhance their environmental management systems. Commitment to environmental compliance audits is a definitive statement that an organization is dedicated to preserving our planet and leaving a positive impact for future generations.

Environmental Protection

At Enviropass we have a certified environmental compliance auditor able to check your company’s compliance to legal obligation and standards like ISO 14001, QC 080000 and NAS411! Contact Enviropass to learn more.