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ISO 14001:2004

Environmental Management System - Everyone's Management System

Being aware of our ecological footprints is one thing; however, doing something about it is quite another, and the International Organization for Standardization, ISO, was set up in 1947 in Geneva, Switzerland. The Organization's purpose is to facilitate and support international and local trade by developing standards that people everywhere in the world would recognize and respect.

The International Organization for Standardization represents the Environmental Management System series ISO 14000, which are known as the generic management system standards. Generic means that the same standards can be applied to any company, large or small, whatever its product is, including such activities as services in any sector of the economy, business enterprises, public administrations, and government departments. The world's best companies have a responsibility to minimize their impact on the environment and integrate environmental responsibility into the way companies do business.

According to the Harvard University's research, since the 1960s, society has begun to question some of the commonly held assumptions of development, such as the belief that the environment can be treated as an endless source of resources and a limitless depository for waste. Between 1960 and 2000, private worldwide consumption expenditures have increased fourfold to more than $ 20 trillion dollars. To feed this consumption, industry consumes vast amounts of material resources at an ever-increasing rate. As much as 75% of the annual resources, absorbed by industrial economies overall, become wastes within a year. This industrial activity has had and will continue to have a critical impact on many components of the natural environment. Clearly, there is a strong logic behind the need for business to play a more active role in alleviating environmental crises.

The ISO 14000 family is primarily concerned with environmental management, which means what companies do to minimize harmful effects on the environment caused by their activities. The Environmental Management System ISO 14001:2004 is a structured approach to addressing the environmental bottom line; also, when all members in an organization are challenged to think differently, it leads to the creation of innovative products and services, and innovation is a primary economic driver of economic growth. The bottom line is that certification to ISO 14001:2004 improves environmental management and enables equal access to a growing "green" marketplace. Also, the ISO 14001:2004 should deliver not only environmental benefits but also real economic benefits to those companies that embrace it.

ISO 14001:2004 gives generic requirements for the management system, not requirements for specific products or services, and that is why, there is "ISO 14001:2004 - certified processes", not products.

Having taken the decision to implement an Environmental Management System, such companies in particular are often unsure just how to get started, which is why they call in the expertise of a consultant. The consultant would help them to explain clearly how their business can implement an Environmental Management System, so the process is a set of practical steps towards raising environmental and business performance.

ISO 14001:2004 can also be used as a guide to upgrade a company's present Environmental Management System ISO14001:1996 in accordance with the internationally recognized set of requirements that can be objectively audited. With ISO 14001:2004, clauses have been clarified and updated to be in harmony with the Quality Management System ISO 9001:2000, and the ISO 14001:2004 is considered the foundation document of the entire ISO 14000 series. This new ISO14001:2004 standard was officially published on November 15, 2004. It replaces the old ISO14001:1996 standard. ISO14001:1996 expired on May 15, 2006.

Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises can achieve substantial benefits by implementing Environmental Management System. They can use this standard to demonstrate that the companies are doing everything they can to protect the environment and improve their environmental performance. They can demonstrate their commitment in several ways:

A Company can simply announce to the world that the Company's EMS complies with the ISO14001:2004 standard.

A Company can ask its customers or other interested parties to confirm that the Company's EMS complies with the ISO14001:2004 standard.

A Company can ask an ISO14001:2004 registrar or external auditor to verify that the EMS complies with the ISO14001:2004 standard.

 

Structure of EMS ISO 14001:2004

4 Environmental Management System Requirements

4.1 General Requirements

The ISO14001:2004 suggests that a Company starts with a Review of the Company's environmental status that covers four key areas: identification of Environmental Aspects, identification of applicable legal and other requirements, examination of existing environmental management practices, evaluation of previous emergency situations and accidents.

The Initial Review shall take into consideration the culture, products, energy use, information systems, operating conditions, the ability of suppliers and subcontractors to comply with the Company's EMS programs, marketing strategies, and other specifics of your Company. The Initial Review is a review of all pertinent documents, such as all pertinent national, state, local, regional laws, acts, regulations under the acts, and by-laws, then self-subscribed requirements, agreements that have been established with government, customers, community groups, then, all the commitments, guidelines, principles, codes of practice, policies, programs, procedures, trainings, work instructions, operational controls, which influence how your environmental aspects shall be handled and from which an accurate plan is designed for the EMS Gap Analysis. In fact, the Initial Review shall begin to identify environmental opportunities for your Company. And the Gap Analysis consists of the three elements: first of all, there is an assessment of the current situation and the gaps between the current situation and the requirements of the ISO 14001:2004, and there are recommendations on the actions required to build elements of the Environmental Management System, and there is a Step-by-Step Plan to address existing gaps.

Once all the factors have been considered, the development and implementation of the Company's unique Environmental Management System begin with the definition of the scope of the EMS in order to define the EMS's boundary that the Company can choose to apply.

A Company can choose to apply ISO14001:2004 to the entire Company or only to a specific operating unit or facility. When this decision is made, the boundary of the EMS is defined. Henceforth, all activities, products, and services that fall within this boundary must comply with the ISO14001:2004 standard.

4.2 Environmental Policy

The Environmental Policy statement is as good as it is understood by everyone in your Company. The Environmental Policy shall include thinking of minimization of pollution, waste, recourse consumption, sharing of environmental experience with others, and commitment to recovery, recycling, and reuse. Everyone in your Company shall know what is expected of him/her in order to achieve the success and follow the Policy statements.

4.3 Planning

4.3.1 Environmental Aspects

Environmental Aspects are all the direct and indirect elements of your Company's activities, which have an impact on the environment; for example, process, storage, transfer, transportation, utilities, emissions to air, water, hazardous waste, soil and groundwater, raw material and energy use, waste recycling, noise, dust, visual pollution. The Aspects shall be reviewed at the site, plant, department, installation, and process levels. Environmental Impacts are the changes that take place in the environment from the occurrence of any given Aspects.

4.3.2 Legal and Other Requirements

Environmental Legal and Other Requirements, such as site specifics, operating permits, product-based requirements, industry specifics, any other requirements, based in authorizations, agreements, contracts, permits, all applicable environmental laws, shall be included in the development of the Legal and Other Requirements list.

4.3.3 Objectives, Targets, and Programmes

Environmental Objectives are the philosophical thoughts and ideas, where you shift from identifying the Environmental Aspects and Impacts to developing a plan to improve them. The primary Objectives shall identify new opportunities for your Company. Environmental Targets are detailed and quantified performance requirement that traditionally arise from the Environmental Objectives; for example, the reduction in hazardous waste by 5% over the next two years.

The development of the Environmental Policy statement, Significant Environmental Aspects and Impacts, and the Environmental Objects and Targets are the core of the Environmental Management Programs and the Environmental Management System. Once you have gone through the exercise of defining your Environmental Aspects and Impacts, you recognize opportunities not visible previously. Now, when you spend time thinking about different aspects of your business, you see the bigger picture.

4.4 Implementation and Operation

4.4.1 Resources, Roles, Responsibility and Authority

Environmental Management Programs are designed to accomplish the Environmental Aspects and Targets. The Programs include the Structure and Responsibilities, and the individual roles and responsibilities are defined. There are also Training, Awareness, and Competence Programs, where staff members are trained in their specific environmental responsibilities.

4.4.2 Competence, Training and Awareness

The ISO 14001:2004 requires that all persons shall be aware of the Company's Environmental Policy and the Environmental Aspects of the Company's activities that could be affected by their work. Also, the ISO 14001:2004 requires that those persons, whose work could cause significant Environmental Impacts are competent to perform the tasks to which they are assigned. Training needs shall be identified and actions are taken to ensure the provision of training.

4.4.3 Communication

Environmental Communication is a key aspect of environmental management. Over the last 10 years, there has been considerable growth in the need for companies to communicate on environmental issues: internally, in order to have a functioning, effective environmental management system, and externally; for example, through environmental reporting, monitoring returns to regulators and labeling of products. That is why the International Standards Organization (ISO) has developed a new guidance standard on environmental communication, as part of the ISO 14000 series of environmental management standards. The new standard has been published as a Draft International Standard (DIS) and is being made available for public comments. In order to be in conformance with the provision of the ISO 1401:2004, companies shall answer the overall question:" What communication system needs to be established? "In order to answer the question, three specific points need to be addressed. Companies shall establish and maintain a procedure to facilitate internal communication within the Company, and a system for receiving and responding to communication from external parties. Also, the Company shall determine whether it communicates to external parties' information on its significant environmental aspects. According to the Draft International Standard, there is a one-way communication that occurs when the organization distributes information, for example, an environmental report; however, there is no opportunity for questions or discussions. Also, there is a two-way communication that occurs with an exchange of information and ideas among the Company and interested parties and with the participatory decision-making process when the Company collaborates with interested parties in making decisions that affect the Company and the local community.

Benefits of the Environmental Communication:

demonstrate management's commitment to the environment,

make interested parties understand and be aware of a Company's environmental commitments, policies and performance,

address concerns about the Company's environmental activities by external parties,

provide suggestions for improving the environmental performance of a Company's activities, products and services, and progress toward sustainability,

announce the Company's strategic environmental management approach,

improve understanding of interested parties' needs and concerns to foster trust and dialogue,

promote a Company's environmental credentials, achievements and performance,

raise the importance and level of environmental awareness to support an environmentally responsible culture and values within the Company,

enhance interested parties' perceptions of the Company,

establish a line of communication that clearly defines emergency responsibilities,

increase business support and shareholder confidence

4.4.4 Documentation

Environmental Management System Documentation is not required for every procedure or work process; however, working instructions must be clear and concise.

4.4.5 Control of Documents

The Company shall create and maintain documents in a manner sufficient to implement the EMS; however, the primary focus of the Company shall be on environmental performance, not on a complex Document Control system.

4.4.6 Operational Control

Operational Control over all activities significantly affecting the environment, for example, disposal of waste, approval of new chemicals, storage and handling of raw materials and chemicals, wastewater treatment, operation of paint line, operating of plating system, management of contractors, is a requirement of the ISO 14001:2004 Standard. Operating methods and procedures must be written down for these activities.

4.4.7 Emergency Preparedness and Response

Emergency Preparedness and Response are usually based upon human health consideration, and the philosophy behind emergency preparation is to preplan emergency actions to mitigate, reduce, or eliminate the environmental health and safety impacts.

4.5 Checking

4.5.1 Monitoring and Measurement

Monitoring and Measurement are performed to see if the EMS Objectives and Targets are being met. Measures and Monitoring shall be an integral part of process engineering, product design, and standard operating procedures. There shall be a clear difference between Environmental Performance Evaluation (continual, frequent, operations responsibility, process performance) and Audits (periodic, independent, verify conformance, a sampling of data).

4.5.2 Evaluation of Compliance

The Company shall demonstrate that it has evaluated Compliance with the legal requirements identified, including applicable permits, licenses, and the other identified requirements to which the Company has subscribed.

4.5.3 Nonconformity, Corrective Action and Preventive Action

Corrective and Preventive Actions shall take place after the results of Monitoring and Measures are documented and reviewed. It is important to know the difference between Corrective Actions and Preventive Actions. Preventive actions include analysis of environmental indicators to determine probabilities of non-conformance. Corrective Actions are the process that changes the procedural activities when the Preventive Actions, Monitoring and Measuring detect a problem.

4.5.4 Control of Records

Records are required to demonstrate compliance with the EMS.

4.5.5 Internal Audit

Environmental Management System Audit is another requirement of the ISO 14001:2004. It is essential to develop procedures that clarify audit scope, audit frequency, audit qualifications, reporting requirements, and follow-up.

4.6 Management Review

Managements Reviews is an essential portion of the continual improvement and shall assess the compliance or non-conformance to the ISO 14001:2004 Standard.

Once the EMS is developed and implemented, the company is conditioned to continually improve their performance in environmental management. The EMS ISO 14001:2004 develops plans on which the future rides.

Benefits of the EMS ISO 14001:2004

Responsible business is possible! Let's implement the Environmental Management System and improve profitability and efficiency while saving our planet.

Environmental Management System's purpose is to improve the value of companies through risk and cost reduction, revenue enhancement, and profitability. Also, the EMS' shared principles with the Quality Management System series ISO 9000 and the Occupational Health and Safety Assessment Series OHSAS 18001 enable integration of both the Quality and Occupational Health and Safety Systems. Below are the benefits of the EMS:

Benefits to the environment - EMS reduces hazardous and non-hazardous waste to a minimum and provides conservation of resources, such as electricity, gas, space, and water.

Saving costs - EMS's innovations always lead to economic growth and improved management of environmental risk.

Cost savings can often be realized and achieved by focusing on potential savings, such as the reduction of resource consumption and waste outputs.

Further, reductions of costs are associated with emissions, discharges, waste handling, transport and disposal.

By focusing work to objectives and targets and establishing monitoring and control, companies also reduce costs.

The implementation of the ISO 14001:2004 improves businesses relationships with insurance companies, allows negotiations, and reduction in premiums.

Shareholder's satisfaction always increases with the elimination of waste and reduction of costs, which is associated with conformance to national and local standards.

Companies, certified with the ISO 14000 series, have improved access to capitals, investments, loans, etc.

EMS ISO 14001:2004 emphasizes continual improvement that leads companies to discover new ideas and ways of cost savings, profitability, and growth.

Managing the Risks - reduce legal, financial and reputation-related liabilities by providing a systematic approach to current and forthcoming legislation and other requirements.

With increasing environmental legislation, backed by heavy penalties, it is no longer prudent to ignore legal responsibilities; however, one cannot make good decisions without a reasonable knowledge of your Risk. The Risk Assessment provides insight into the Risk involved, and answers three basic questions:

1. What can go wrong?

2. How likely is it?

3. What are the consequences?

Therefore, every effort shall be made to reduce the Environmental Risk.

Creating marketing opportunities - environmental awareness amongst consumers continues to grow, and opportunities appear for winning new sales and consolidating existing businesses by promoting the environmental characteristics of the company's products and services.

The EMS ISO 14001:2004 certification provides a much better competitive reputation because when you are seen as a green Company, it gives you a competitive edge and ability to compete on government tenders, makes you more attractive to the market place, and allows you to meet national and international government purchasing requirements.

Communicating information - EMS implementation significantly improves the companies' internal and external communication, resulting in more organized, higher quality environmental information being shared and generally available for discussion.

EMS enables profound communication and a more motivated workforce. Sharing your commitment to be green with employees encourages them, and more involves them in business. Then, employees better understand and support internal changes.

When you share your commitment to be green with external constituencies, they also appreciate your efforts and support your decisions and innovations.

Operating wisely - EMS integrates efficiency and discipline, helps ease the obtaining of operational permits and authorizations, generally improves all communications with regulatory and government bodies, and assists in integrating technology within the Company.

Leading Companies - Leadership in Environmental Management. At a time when NIMB "Not in My Backyard" thinking can channel how regulations are enacted and enforced, it makes sense for companies to recognize the power of communication in influencing others and to go beyond simply setting objectives, writing plans, and putting a proactive external communication program in place. Forward-thinking companies work on a definition and a procedure for sharing environmental information with external constituencies when they exceed targets for source reduction and waste minimization within their facilities.

Establishing Public Relationships - validates your environmental commitment to the community and sing the praises of your efforts.