27.3 Managing environmental impact from organisations in the service sector

Sara Emilsson , Environmental Technology and Management, Linköping University, Linköping, Sweden
Ladan Sharifian , Envima, Linköping, Sweden
Full Papers
  • indirect environmental impact in the service sector.pdf (56.3 kB)
  • Managing environmental impact from organisations in the service sector

     Indirect environmental impact is little supported in official standards for standardised environmental management systems (EMSs) such as ISO 14001 and EMAS. However, indirect environmental impact relates to the core activities of many organisations’ core activities, especially in the service sector (including the public sector).

     Earlier research in Swedish local authorities shows that although they realise the importance of managing indirect environmental impact, it is found difficult to deal with within their EMSs, and therefore sometimes neglected. What does an EMS from e.g. a local authority, a central authority or a service delivering company, say about the organisation’s total environmental performance if the environmental impact from e.g. consultancy, decision-making, spatial planning or education is left out of the system?

     The main purpose of this paper is to explore ways to deal with indirect environmental impact within EMSs. To achieve this, interview studies were performed in Swedish authorities, banks and insurance companies, whose core activities mainly give rise to this kind of environmental impact. This paper presents the organisations’ views on indirect environmental impact, and discusses possible approaches to this issue. The results from earlier studies in local authorities show that there is a limited systems’ perspective when it comes to environmental and sustainability management issues. By adopting a broader approach to these issues and also perhaps management issues in general, many of the problems experienced connected to indirect environmental impact could come closer to a solution. This paper concludes by discussing and analysing broad based process management as one way of getting this wider systems perspective: an approach that could be useful in order to support the organisations to adopt a broader systems thinking when it comes to their management systems in general and thereby also help them find ways to manage their indirect environmental impact.