Environmental Objectives and Targets

Today’s Environment is sponsored by EMS Documentation Services. Our focus is on helping clients with the formulation and implementation of an Environmental Management System (EMS), which includes system documentation and consulting  services.  

Over the coming weeks I will be providing   information on the steps necessary for implementing a well conceived environmental management system.  Should you have any questions about the information provided, please feel free to contact me by email at: GeorgeWAndersen@gmail.com. I will try to answer your questions within 24 hours. As always, your comments and suggestions are appreciated. 


George Andersen                                     

Objectives and Targets

Environmental management systems written to the ISO14001 standard do not require a pre-defined minimum level of performance. For example, they do not prescribe that you recycle all your wasted chemicals, take at least 90% of your travel by public transit, or purchase all your products from sustainable resources. Of course, if you want to commit to these objectives, then they can form part of your EMS, but it’s up to you. 
What an EMS does require is that you look at your company and identify what your significant environmental impacts are, and what your legal requirements are. This establishes where you are now. Once identified, you then can write an environmental policy that describes your commitment to continuous environmental improvement as a minimum. The rest of the management system involves setting objectives and targets to progressively improve your environmental performance and meeting legal requirements.

Objectives and Targets are unique to each organization. No one environmental objective or target fits all. Your objectives and targets should reflect what your organization does, and what it wants to achieve. Only you can determine what objectives and targets are appropriate for your organization. These goals can be applied organization-wide, or to individual units, departments or functions — depending on where the improvement is needed.                                                          

In setting objectives, keep in mind your environmental policy, including its three “pillars.”  (pollution prevention, continual improvement, and compliance). When setting Objectives and Targets, you should also consider your:

1. significant environmental aspects,

2. applicable legal and other requirements,

3. views of interested parties,

4. your technological options, and

5. financial, operational, and other organizational considerations.

People Making The Difference

• When setting objectives and targets, it’s best to involve people in the relevant functional area(s). These people should be well positioned to establish, plan, and achieve these goals.

• Get top management buy-in for your objectives. This should help to ensure that adequate resources are applied and that the objectives are integrated with other organizational goals.

• In communicating objectives to employees, try to link the objectives to the actual environmental improvements being sought. This should give people something tangible to work towards.

• Objectives should be consistent with your overall mission and plan and the key commitments established in your policy (pollution prevention, continual improvement, and compliance). Targets should be sufficiently clear to answer the question: “Did we achieve our objectives?”

• Be flexible in your objectives. Define a desired result, then let the people responsible determine how to achieve results.  

• Objectives can be established to maintain current levels of performance as well as to improve performance.   For some environmental aspects you might have both maintenance and improvement objectives.

• Communicate your progress in achieving objectives and targets across the organization. Consider a regular report on this progress at staff meetings.

To obtain the views of interested parties, consider holding an open house or establishing a focus group with people in the community. These activities can have other payoffs as well.

SMART Objectives

All businesses need to set objectives for themselves or for the products or service they are launching.  Setting objectives are important. It focuses the company on specific aims over a period of time and can motivate staff to meet the objectives set. A simple acronym used to set objectives is called SMART objectives.

SMART stands for:

1.  Specific – Objectives should specify what they want to achieve.
2.  Measurable – You should be able to measure whether you are meeting the objectives or not.
3.  Achievable – Are the objectives you set, achievable and attainable?
4.  Realistic – Can you realistically achieve the objectives with the resources you have?
5.  Time – When do you want to achieve the set of objectives?




2 Responses to Environmental Objectives and Targets

  1. Paul Koyich says:

    George, very informative and well laid out article, thanks for the “Smart” objective reminder, seems a lot of companies still operate on the “Management by Objective” principle. However as you are aware the latest concepts/principles and practices vary from company to company and depending on the type of Industry (I am in the Oil and Gas Industry), we also are expected to follow the “Vision Statement” or “Mission Statement” as the case may be. So depending on the certification of the Company re.ISO a lot of the basic fundamentals of “stewardship” seem to get lost in the quagmire. Even the simple principle of Continuous Improvement seems to get overlooked on a daily basis along with its complimentary principle of Change Management (and who is stewarding that?)

    Respectfully, Paul Koyich, HSE Advisor, Al Khor Community,(pop.10,000+), State of Qatar

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