“This initiative forms part of our quest to fulfil the ‘duty of care’ for the environment that is set out in the National Environmental Management Act,” states the company’s sustainability executive, Dr Andre Venter.
The environmental management standards have been approved by Imperial’s Exco members.
They cover five key environmental sustainability management focus areas: waste management, energy management, water and wastewater management, greenhouse gas management and the prevention of soil and groundwater contamination.
“They should be read in conjunction with our Environmental Management Framework and Policy, published in 2015,” he notes.
Venter says that although the environmental management standards are not prescriptive to the extent that the current decentralised operating model cannot effectively implement them, they nevertheless promote a common approach to sustainable development.
“In other words, they provide for legal compliance, the best practice not exceeding excessive cost, and continuous improvement in environmental management and sustainability reporting.”
He says that it is now the responsibility of each operating company to develop custom standard operating procedures (SOPs) to implement the standards at the site or operating company level.
“We are also now able to set performance targets for key environmental sustainability focus areas.”
Venter warns that a reactive, rather than proactive, approach to environmental management is likely to increase the company’s annual operating costs and may elicit adverse environmental and reputational risks.
“It is expected that the new environmental management standards will pave the way for our proactive approach to environmental management and sustainability in Imperial Logistics.”
To ensure the effective implementation and understanding of the standards, Dr Venter will visit operating companies to explain and give context to the documents.
To promote compliance with the environmental management standards, the internal audit team will be requested to include elements of these standards in their standard audit protocols.