• Two hands, one holding a world and one holding a tree
    Environmental

    Environmental Responsibilities

    Digital vs Paper – The jury’s out One of the photographs we looked at during a recent NEBOSH Environmental Awareness at Work pilot course featured a pile of waste electronic circuit boards that had been dumped in the corner of a farmer’s field somewhere in south-east Asia. I’m pretty certain that the origin of this waste was discarded computers that had been collected for recycling in the USA. This prompted a discussion in the class not only about the probity of many recycling schemes but also about the significant quantity of resources that we use in making electronic devices.

  • Plastic pollution underwater
    Environmental

    Environmental Impacts

    Which is the fairest of them all? One area that has interested me lately is how impacts on the environment are costed. This topic is more important than you might think, as it is the basis of many environmental laws and taxes. So it relates to all three of the reasons for managing environmental risk, as introduced in Unit 1, Element 1 of the NEBOSH National Diploma in Environmental Management: moral, legal and financial. There are two ways of working out who pays for the costs associated with environmental impacts – and any accountants among you will recognise these terms: internalising the cost, or externalising it. What do these mean?…

  • Landfill full of rubbish
    Environmental

    Corporate Social Responsibility

    Power to the People – Take Two Thinking about Corporate Social Responsibility and how the motivation for it is mainly moral, or ethical – as outlined in Element 2, Unit 1 of the NEBOSH Environmental Certificate – I was interested in the recent tongue-lashing the UK government received from the parliamentary Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) over its plans to introduce a 5p charge on single-use plastic bags from 2015. On the face of it this seems a little harsh, given that plastic bags have been highlighted as a conspicuous waste of resources and an insidious source of pollution for many years. The EU Commission estimates that 800,000 tonnes of plastic…

  • Wind turbines on fields
    Environmental

    Natural Cycles and Their Delicate Environmental Balance

    Being quite a keen cyclist I want to talk to you about natural cycles – no, not about biking around the countryside but how substances and elements are moved around in nature. If you research how long the planet has been in existence you will come up with a figure of 4 billon years, give or take a few million. Yet, even after all this time, substances on which nature relies to exist have not been consumed. This seems a little odd, when you think about it – 4 billon years is a very long time. But it’s because Earth is essentially a closed-loop system: very little gets in and…

  • Refinery
    Environmental

    Going With The Flow – Cheaper in the Long Run?

    I often travel to London from the West Country by train and always enjoy passing through the Somerset Levels. I look at the farmsteads and churches perched on hillocks surrounded by miles of flat, green farmland and try to imagine what it must have been like when King Alfred was hiding from the Danes in the 9th century and these were island refuges in an inland sea. Well, travelling at the tail-end of Winter 2014 I felt transported back in in time, as my train sailed across mile after mile of water and the hillocks really were islands! This was a glimpse of what the Levels were like in a…

  • Bulldozer on pile of rubbish
    Environmental

    ‘Where There’s Muck There’s Brass’ – Or is There?

    I bet some of you are wondering what the title means – particularly international students, or anyone from outside of Lancashire. Well, to translate from my own native Lancastrian into proper English this old adage means there is money in waste. It reminds me of a visit to a food-manufacturing company a few years back to complete a resource-efficiency review. I had quite a heated discussion on recycling with my contact there, which went something like this:

  • Environmental ground
    Environmental

    Buying a ‘Stairway to Heaven’ – Or Another ‘Tragedy’?

    Buying a ‘Stairway to Heaven’ – or another ‘Tragedy’? I’ve never been a fan of the idea of environmental “offsetting”. The concept is most frequently applied to greenhouse gas emissions – with which NEBOSH Environmental Certificate students who have studied Element 1 will be familiar – where an organisation (or individual) seeks to compensate for the carbon emissions they cause (usually through using energy) by paying for improvements elsewhere. Carbon offsetting has become institutionalised through regulated schemes such as the EU Emissions Trading Scheme, and there is also a host of commercial ‘carbon offsets’ that are available for purchase from specialist companies. Carbon offsets are usually sold as tonnes of…

  • Man in field next to wind turbines
    Environmental

    Identifying Environmental Aspects and Impacts

    Identifying Environmental Aspects and Impacts – Race to The Finish Seven years ago I competed in my first marathon it was hard – very hard. As everyone always says, in the last six miles of the race you hit a wall, and a very well built and extremely big wall it was, too! Something that feels very much like the last few miles of a marathon and which causes students a lot of pain is assessing environmental aspects and impacts – as  covered in Unit 1, Element 3 of the NEBOSH Diploma in Environmental Management: ‘Control Strategies for Environmental Risk’. Often, when I am delivering courses or marking assignments, I…

  • Back end of cars in traffic
    Environmental

    Fossil Fools?

    Fossil Fools? You may have noticed – and this is confirmed by the AA’s monthly fuel price report – that petrol and diesel prices are down significantly this month (November 2013). Good news? Well, nestling within every silver-lining there’s often a cloud. The recent drop in fuel prices seems to go against the long-term trend and raises questions about where the underlying global price of fossil fuels is going. Element 7 of the NEBOSH Certificate in Environmental Management raises questions about the rising costs of fossil fuels and identifies that demand is starting to outstrip supply. The script that we have been following in recent years goes something like this:…