The Basics of Meeting the New ISO 14001 EMS Requirements
ISO 14001 is an international standard that forms part of the larger ISO 14000 series of standards dealing specifically with issues of environmental management and responsibility.
The ISO 14001 requirements are separated into four clauses, of which the forth clause further sub-divides into sub-clauses that cover the specific requirements for setting up and managing and Environmental Management System. It is imperative to meet all the general requirements, as well as the requirements for the environmental policy, planning, implementation, operation, checking, and management review. Note that the first three clauses in ISO 14001 only deal with the standard’s scope, terms and definitions and the references.
More on the General Requirements
The first section of Clause 4 covers the general requirements such as the scope and documentation of the EMS.
What the Environmental Policy is About
The environmental policy section is specifically focussed on what is needed for the setting up of the policy, which ultimately becomes the main aim of the environmental management system. This sub-clause is for the executive management of the company and one of the requirements is to include the outline and details of the company’s commitment to environmental responsibility such as pollution prevention and compliance with the country’s legal requirements.
Emphasis of the Planning Sub-Clause
The sub-clause highlights the importance of assessing how the enterprise processes impact and interact with the surrounding environment and how the firm plans to ensure on-going compliance with the various legal requirements surrounding these. Planning must include the objectives and goals of the environmental management system.
Requirements for Implementation
Operation goes along with implementation and this forms the bulk of the sub-clauses in the forth clause. It stipulates the resources, authorities, and role requirements in addition to EMS training, competence and awareness. A part of the section covers the setting up and controlling of the relevant documentation. It also covers preventative requirements for dealing with environmental emergencies, as well as steps to prevent recurrences and minimising impact of incidents on the environment.
Assessment and Checks
No policies and processes should go unchecked. With this section, the monitoring and measurements of the various processes and compliance with legal requirements are covered. It includes aspects such as non-conformity in the processes, the relevant corrective actions to take and steps to prevent risks from escalating into real-life and environmentally threatening situations.
Identification of potential problems and proper safekeeping of the relevant EMS documents and records are essential as evidence of the functionality of the EMS. Internal auditing systems must be in place for reviewing the EMS and identifying areas, which has to be improved to ensure conformity with the ISO 14001 requirements and compliance with legal frameworks.
Management review forms an integral part of EMS management. Regular reviews must be done to ensure that sufficient resources are used for the environmental management system to achieve optimal functioning. In essence, the management reviews can be seen as the on-going maintenance programme for continued improvement.
What are the Challenges?
The main challenge for an enterprise is to make sure that the EMS meets the enterprise needs whilst making provision for on-going improvement, as this will eliminate the risk of stagnation while the environmental risks change.
Who Develops the ISO 14000 Series?
The International Standards Organisation’s Technical Committee and its related sub-committees develop this standards series. It is an internationally accepted series of standards that helps to standardise how firms set up and regulate their interaction with the environment in a responsible and sustainable manner. The series is relevant to any size enterprise regardless of the industry in which it operates.
Revision of ISO 14001
The revision of ISO 14001:2004 became known as ISO 14001:2015. The standard provides the requirements to be met if a company wants their EMS to be ISO 14001:2015 certified. The ISO standards are reviewed on a regular basis to ensure relevancy to the enterprises operating in the current and future markets.
The changes that were made to ISO 14001:2004 include more focussing on leadership aspects and more focus on the growing importance of EMS within the enterprise’s strategy developments. An additional step that can be taken for environmental protection, and that has been included and the new standard, is an increased focus on resource usage to limit contribution to climate change. It includes a lifecycle approach regarding impact and requirements for improving the enterprise’s performance as related to the EMS. The new standard also provides the framework for setting up a strategy to communicate the various aspects of the EMS across the enterprise.
The revised standard includes more information on control and documentation, as well as competence requirements. It also addresses the general impact of the setting up and implementing of the internal auditing process. The revised ISO 14001 follows the same structure as the other updated standards such as ISO 9001 to ensure better integration of the various ISO-compliant management systems and thus cost savings in setting up and managing these.
Benefits of Complying with ISO 14001 Requirements
Enterprises that comply with the ISO 14001 requirements benefit from improved usage of resources and the overall reduction of waste. In addition, the companies benefit from lower costs because of more efficient processes. With compliance and certification, companies obtain the necessary proof of their commitment to environmentally sustainable practices.
With an increase in international pressure to reduce the human impact on the environment and the economical footprint, trading partners and clients alike prefer doing business with ISO 14001-compliant firms.
Compliance furthermore helps companies to meet the legal requirements of their countries while also improving on their standing with clients and stakeholders. Compliant enterprises gain a competitive edge in the international arena over non-compliant firms, as international trade partners often only want to do business with compliant firms.
With well over 290 000 certifications already done regarding ISO 14001 in more than 168 countries across the globe, it becomes clear that non-compliant firms will eventually have to get in line to ensure on-going competitiveness in the marketplace.
WWISE assists firms wanting to become compliant in several ways including preparation for certification, integration of the EMS with other ISO management systems, training, internal and external audits and consultation services.