Thursday, 22 August 2013


Environmental management deals mainly with the impact of organisations on the environment. For simplicity, the surrounding environment can be subdivided into three main components – air, water and land (also known as environmental “media”).

These three media are part of a series of complex and dynamic biological, physical and chemical interrelationships, such as ecosystems, and the water and carbon cycles. Society processes the earth’s resources to provide a vast, and increasingly sophisticated, range of goods and services. These processes and associated activities lead to various environmental impacts.

Pollution results from the introduction of substances or energy into the environment. In addition to substances, outputs can also be energy such as noise, vibration, heat and light. Once released, outputs can follow natural pathways – eg air, flowing water, permeable ground, the food chain – and affect parts of the environment that are sensitive to them (“receptors”).

Harm can occur over the short or longer term, depending on the nature of the pollutant and the sensitivity of the receptor. There is not always a clear-cut distinction between receptors and pathways. For example, environmental media such as water can be both pathways and receptors, as can organisms in a food chain.

Although the environment is the “sink” for our waste products, there are limits to what can be sustainably emitted into the air, sent to landfill, or how much resource can be taken from the environment.

— Source: Essentials of environmental management, co-authored by Paul Reeve and Paul Hyde.

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