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Environmental management and organisations
Environmental management and organisations

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8.5 Processes

Organisational processes refers to the activities undertaken by an organisation to achieve its aims. As with organisation types and structures, these can vary enormously and present a further layer of complexity in thinking about environmental management in organisations.

For example, if a business organisation is manufacturing shoes, the set of processes in Table 2 might be relevant for the organisation’s different sections:

Table 2 Some organisational processes associated with shoe manufacturing
DesignersDevelop and finalise shoe specification
SalesIdentify buyers and agree contracts to supply
ManufacturingOrganise manufacturing
PackagingSource packaging and supply
LogisticsTransporting finished goods to retailer
FinanceInvoice retailer
Customer careRetailer follow-up as necessary

This is a very simplified example of the processes that might happen. In practice, it is likely to be much more complex – for example, the manufacturing of the shoes might require sourcing materials from many other companies for plastics, leather and dyes, and managing the consequences of manufacturing, including waste and atmospheric emissions. It is also unlikely to be as linear as implied in Table 2, as the design specification will be strongly influenced by retailers’ preferences and a suite of legal obligations. These might include using certain materials for environmental reasons (e.g. glues or specific materials) or ensuring no child labour is used in manufacturing parts for the shoe. The choices made for each of the processes will be important in shaping the environmental impacts of an organisation.

Some organisations go to considerable voluntary efforts to ensure their processes minimise environmental impacts, and this provides the basis of their approach to environmental management. In many cases, organisations are also obliged by legislation to ensure their processes and products comply with a range of environmental standards. These obligations will, in turn, shape the structures and processes of an organisation.