A Comprehensive Guide to Environmental Aspects and Impacts

Explore the intricacies of environmental aspects and impacts of the organization’s practices to enhance the company’s sustainability, compliance, and competitive advantage.

What are Environmental Aspects and Impacts?

Environmental aspects and impacts are the interactions between an organization’s activities, products, or services and the environment. According to ISO 14001, organizations should establish a procedure that identifies activities that affect the environment and the consequences they may have, whether direct or indirect, on air, water, land, biodiversity, and human health. By understanding these, organizations can reduce their carbon footprint, comply with regulations, and enhance their environmental and sustainability performance.


There has been a growing concern for environmental protection in the recent decades. The 1992 Rio de Janeiro Earth Summit stressed the interdependence among social, economic, and environmental factors and the need for promoting and investing in sustainable development, particularly in organizations across industries.

The summit also brought about ISO 14001. Prior to the creation of this standard, companies voluntarily developed their framework, which proved to be inoperable as it lacked the tools for comparing environmental practices and their repercussions. By standardizing the methodology, companies can efficiently identify, evaluate, and manage them.

Aside from complying with the standard’s core requirement, businesses gain numerous advantages for implementing the process. It includes reduced environmental risk, improved resource efficiency, and better competitive advantage among environmentally conscious investors and consumers.

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The Path to Sustainability and Resilience: A Step-by-Step Guide

An ongoing process within the environmental management system, assessing factors and subsequent effects should begin during the planning stage and continue throughout its operations. In addition, relevant personnel should review and regularly update processes, technology, regulations, and public expectations evolve.

Here are the four crucial steps HSE or EHSQ supervisors should know to manage the company’s environmental impacts and aspects.

Identify Environmental Aspects

This is the foundational step in understanding the organization’s interaction with the environment. By knowing these aspects, companies can reduce the likelihood of incidents and accidents and be more proactive in handling problems that may arise. Here are a few ways to go about this:

  • Conduct comprehensive site surveys and inspections to identify all activities, processes, and areas that can potentially impact the environment.
  • Engage with internal and external stakeholders (e.g., suppliers, regulators, local communities) to gather diverse perspectives.
  • Utilize established and reliable environmental management tools and techniques since these facilitate accurate identification and extensive documentation.

While every industry has specific environmental aspects to consider due to the nature of its activities, products, and services, all share common ones, such as energy consumption, water usage and discharge, and waste generation. Regardless of the size, location, and operational process, all companies should take note of and start with these environmental aspects and impact examples.

Assess Environmental Impacts

Every identified environmental aspect has a consequence on the organization’s operations and the community they belong to. By assessing their potential effects, companies become more proactive by implementing predetermined preventive measures or mitigating them before they worsen.

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Here is a simple cause-and-effect chart that shows some of the most common environmental aspects and impact risk assessment in transportation and logistics:

Aspect Impact
Fuel consumption and emissions Air pollution

Greenhouse gases

Noise from trucks, shipping, air transport Noise pollution in communities

Negative effect on wildlife habitats

Expansion of transport infrastructure Habitat fragmentation

Degradation of natural ecosystem

Loss of biodiversity

Create Mitigation and Management Strategies

The main point of accurately identifying and carefully assessing the aspects and impacts of the organization’s activities is to find effective ways to manage them. Aside from protecting the environment and upholding business sustainability goals, it also improves the company’s operational efficiency and revenues. Here are some best practices to consider:

  • Start with minimizing or preventing pollution at the source by optimizing processes and choosing cleaner production methods.
  • Establish systematic processes based on internationally recognized standards to set short and long-term objectives and implement action plans.
  • Collaborate with stakeholders to solicit input when developing and implementing mitigation and management strategies.

Continuously Monitor and Evaluate the Process

As aforementioned, this is a cyclical process directed towards continuous improvement. With constant monitoring and critical evaluation, organizations can successfully comply with regulations and identify emerging risks and opportunities.

  • Establish key performance indicators (KPIs) that cover various aspects to ensure alignment with environmental targets.
  • Utilize advanced monitoring equipment, sampling procedures, and data-logging systems to track changes in environmental performance.
  • Streamline data collection, analysis, and reporting with the help of environmental software solutions. Integrating one into the company’s current system and using it as a centralized repository can facilitate numerous monitoring and evaluation workflows.

In a survey conducted by McKinsey & Co., 66% of the respondents said sustainability is an essential factor in their purchasing decisions. With this, organizations should do their best to demonstrate their environmental commitment by establishing ambitious but realistic goals, continuously tracking their progress, and making improvements along the way.

This environmental standard gets reviewed and accordingly modified every five years. Check the most recent amendment (ISO 14001:2015/Amd 1:2024) to ensure your company’s adherence to the standard.

Eunice Arcilla Caburao
Article by

Eunice Arcilla Caburao

SafetyCulture Content Contributor
Eunice Caburao is a content contributor for SafetyCulture. A registered nurse, theater stage manager, Ultimate Frisbee athlete, and mother, she has written a wide range of topics for over a decade. Eunice draws upon her rich, multidisciplinary background to create informative articles about emerging topics on health, safety, and workplace efficiency.