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How the transportation business can benefit from identifying environmental aspects according to ISO 14001

Spending in the US road transportation industry amounted to $1.33 trillion in 2012, which represented 8.5% of gross domestic product. Given the value to the US economy, it is obvious that this industry is of critical importance, but likewise, given the amount of activity within this sector, it is clear that there will be some significant environmental aspects attached to companies operating in this field. It is, therefore, highly likely that ISO 14001:2015 will become increasingly more important to the regulation of this business in the future, given the US government’s commitment to controlling and reducing the environmental impact and carbon footprint of the business community in the United States. Given that logistics and road transportation make up a large percentage of the US transportation sector, how can organizations within this sector start to identify meaningful environmental aspects, reduce their impacts, and save money in the first step towards complying with ISO 14001:2015?

Identification of environmental aspects – The basics

Organizations that are unaware of the benefits of compliance with the ISO 14001:2015 standard and wish to understand how they can be matched up against their transportation business may be pleasantly surprised – as well as seeking to reduce impact on the greater environment, mitigating your environmental aspects can provide large cost and efficiency savings for your organization at the same time. In terms of understanding environmental aspects, what they are, and how to identify them, the article 4 steps in identification and evaluation of environmental aspects will provide some assistance. For example, this transportation business had large fuel consumption costs, used packaging for delivery purposes, and had significant utility consumption in its office and planning center – all potential environmental aspects that will be common to many businesses in this sector.

Reducing the risk

Let us look at some strategic steps any transportation and logistics firms can take in terms of identifying environmental aspects and mitigating their risks in line with ISO 14001:

  • Review your capital expenditure policy: Do you consider environmental criteria when you purchase capital expenditure, such as trucks or vehicles? Can your organization reduce environmental aspects by purchasing more efficient trucks with a more efficient engine size, lower fuel consumption, and a lesser effect on the environment? If you can identify and make such efficiency savings when making major purchases, the benefits will spread out over the coming years, as will the cost savings.
  • Examine your processes: Does your team take the most efficient routes? Does your headquarters use computer software to tie in collections and deliveries together to use the lowest possible fuel consumption? Do you plan correctly in order to lessen your environmental impact wherever possible? Have you considered your office environmental performance as well as your vehicle performance? Assuming the correct level of operational control can yield significant improvements within your transportation organization, and you can find more details on this in the article entitled Defining and implementing operational control in ISO 14001:2015.
  • Establish and review your preventive maintenance policy: Preventive maintenance in the transportation business can be a major factor towards reducing environmental impact, and also saving money. Ensuring your vehicles are checked regularly and that maintenance is undertaken can help your business consume less fuel, parts, and tires in the long run, with environmental impacts reduced and savings made as a consequence. Measuring, analyzing, and actioning changes to this policy can also yield great benefits in the transportation business, according to the age, condition, and mileage undertaken by your vehicles.

Obviously, actions such as ensuring your supply chain is environmentally efficient will help your performance, but if you follow the elements above you will have a solid foundation in your search to improve your environmental aspects and start the journey towards compliance with ISO 14001:2015. So, what benefits can we expect to see?

ISO 14001:2015 compliance: The benefits for the transportation industry

As suggested above, one of the major benefits of complying with the ISO 14001:2015 standard is that your organization can see many financial benefits that go hand in hand with reducing your transportation business’s environmental impact. Improving your process, using less fuel and other resources, and improving your supply chain can all have financial benefits, which when measured accurately can all improve your bottom line and increase profitability. Add to that the reputational benefit of being a forward-thinking organization that is environmentally friendly, and you can soon see why your organization could become an even more popular choice for big businesses to partner with. Identify and start improving your environmental impacts and you will not only be on the road to ISO 14001:2015 compliance, but you will save money and make your business a more attractive proposition to potential customers.

This free webinar can also help you: ISO 14001: Identification and evaluation of environmental aspects.

Advisera John Nolan
John Nolan
John Nolan is a Fellow of the Institute of Leaders and Managers in the United Kingdom, and Prince 2 accredited with a background in Engineering and Electronics and Data Storage and Transfer. Having studied and qualified as both a Mechanical and Electronic Engineer, he has spent the last 15 years designing and delivering Quality Systems and projects across many sectors in the UK, including both national and local government.