How to create an Environmental Representative – The Task and Job Responsibility

The following description is based on our experience and consulting work in the Waste and Recycling Industry for many years and gives you some ideas on how to approach this task to create this kind of jobs and what may be the responsibility are; this is an ongoing process and there are many laws and regulations in place or are coming and need to be constant updated and matched with local and Federal laws.

Introduction

The Environmental Representative is covering a wide variety of fields and work, in addition to the Officers for Waste, Water Protection and Pollution Control, there are Officers for Radio-logical Protection, Hazardous Substances, Hazardous Incidents, Quality and Biological Safety as well as Sustainable Recycling Solutions and Recycling Logistics.

We deal here only with some samples on how to create the Officers for Waste, Water Protection and Pollution Control. There are many other different environmental State and Federal laws in place which may require different education and experience.

The Environmental Representative

There were two factors to create the job of an Environmental Representative. On the one hand, companies begin on their own accord to appoint an Environmental Representative. On the other hand, it is getting an government regulatory instruments by adding this new component in order to initiate a change of corporate behavior.

The first deliberations concerning the function of Environmental Officer were oriented on the Radio-logical Protection Officer under nuclear law, who is directly responsible to the authority independently of the power plant operator.

When an Environmental Officer conducts negotiations with authorities, he does this on behalf of the company management, his position is as a “company man” who “only has obligations to the company and does not perform any activity on his own responsibility. His responsibility is towards the company management and has to be maintained.

Basis

The basis for the Environmental Officer is a very complex one. There is no act defining the tasks, duties and rights of the various Environmental Officers. Instead the provisions covering the Environmental Officer are to be found in acts governing the handling of the relevant environmental medium. In the corresponding articles of the Water Resources Management Act, Waste Act and Pollution Control Act the provisions for the Environmental Officer are largely dealt with in a similar fashion:

Specifically reference should be made to the following facts:

  • Pollution control
  • Water resources and protection
  • Waste and Waste Regulations

A company should appoint an environmental protection officer!

A environmental officer will be appointed by a company for self controlling or when an installation is subject to mandatory licensing. Furthermore the authority may direct that companies also appoint a Pollution Control Officer, where this becomes necessary in individual cases.

Functions of the Environmental Officer

The Environmental Officer has three distinct functions.

  • The Environmental Officer’s control function relates to the fact that compliance with the statutory regulations must be monitored. This includes monitoring the operational facilities and the performance of measurements.
  • The innovatory function means that the Environmental Officer has to promote “the development and introduction of environmentally friendly processes and environmentally friendly products, including processes for recovery and recycling”.
  • Informative function: Environmental Officers must educate the workforce with respect to adverse environmental effects of the company and instruct employees on their duties.
  • Furthermore the majority of Environmental Officers also perform a representative function in their companies and the authorities and the general public.
  • The fifth function of the Environmental Officer comprises the possibility of training the workforce. This qualification function has to date only been developed to a minor extent.

Qualification of Environmental Officers

Environmental Officers must be very highly qualified. The respective acts demand of the Environmental Officers specialized knowledge or factual knowledge. According to this only those persons may be appointed Pollution Control Officers who have graduated form an institution of higher education in the fields of chemistry, physics, environmental technology or engineering and who also have two years professional experience in technical environmental protection.

However, the acts also lay down that the authority may demand of the company that another person be appointed if “facts (become) known which make it clear that the company officer does not have the necessary experience or education or display the requisite degree of reliability to perform his tasks.”

Rights of Environmental Officers

The Environmental Officers are equipped by the statutory provisions with a series of rights and powers:

  • Environmental Officers must be asked for their comments in matters relating to investment projects. In waste law it is laid down that the Waste Officer must submit comments at an early stage on investment decisions.
  • They have the right to make submissions. This means that the operator of a facility must ensure that the Officer, if he has not been able to reach agreement with the company management, may submit his suggestions or reservations directly to the body responsible for deciding on the matter. The Water Resources Management Act lays down in addition that the company management must explain to the Water Protection Officer its reasons in detail if agreement is not possible.
  • If a number of Environmental Officers have been appointed in a company, the employer must create the conditions for co-operation between them. This includes the formation of an environmental committee.
  • The Environmental Officers have a right to the necessary in-service and further training during working hours.
  • The employer must guarantee material support in the form of auxiliary personnel, rooms, facilities, equipment and financial resources needed to perform the tasks of the Environmental Officer.
  • Environmental Officers may not suffer discrimination.

Prerequisites for the obligation to appoint Operator of a facility subject to mandatory licensing or order from the competent authority License, or order from the competent authority Operator of stationary waste disposal facilities or facilities in which waste in the meaning is produced regularly, or order from the competent authority Tasks:

  • Monitoring compliance with acts, ordinances and official orders
  • Involvement in the development and introduction of environmentally friendly processes and products
  • Information to the company management on environmental risks in the company, especially by means of an annual report
  • Education of company employees on environmental risks
    Comments on investment projects
  • Contacts with the authorities and the general public on matters of environmental protection

Qualification Graduation from an institute of higher education in chemistry, physics, engineering or environmental technology and two years practical experience in the field of technical environmental protection Specialist knowledge, aptitude and reliability of personnel

Rights of the Officer or duties of the operator

  • Material support with auxiliary personnel, rooms, facilities, equipment and funds, where necessary to perform his tasks
  • Reciprocal exchange of information
  • Obtaining the comments of the Environmental Protection Officer on investment projects
  • Granting of right to make proposals
  • Prohibition of discrimination against the Officer
  • Facilitation of the necessary in-service and further training and setting off of the time required for this against working time
  • If a number of company officers for environmental protection are appointed, creation of the conditions for co-operation between them, especially by formation of an environmental committee

In his view the innovatory function will remain the central one for the Environmental Officer. Using this, integrated environmental protection can be expanded in the company. The control function may become one of financial controlling, where the Environmental Officer will then no longer only check compliance with regulations, but will work with a specific forward-looking orientation. The hitherto informative function vis-à-vis employees can be developed into a qualification function. By means of in-company courses it will be possible to generate a greater environmental awareness among employees and create a competence for positive action. To achieve this change of function, however, Environmental Officers must acquire more sociological and educational knowledge than they at present have. The representative function may develop further into a relay function, in which there is an open, reciprocal exchange of information between the Environmental Officer and the outside world.

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