ISO 14001 is a culmination of years of negotiations between different rules and regulations of over fifteen environmental standards. ISO 14001 was put into effect in order to encourage and promote sustainable development. ISO 14001 differs from any of the previous standards as it is the first where companies need to account for the impact their activities and processes have on the environment. The standards of ISO 14001 offer companies a means of managing, measuring results, and bettering the impact of their operations on the environment. ISO 14001 offer the companies a greater means of communication. It is predicted that ISO 14001 will revolutionise the way products are manufactured, raw material selection, as well as the way in which the finished product is advertised and marketed.
ISO 14001 is not compulsory for every business to undertake. This process of certification is voluntary. ISO 14001 is the environmental management system is the standard with which requirements have been established. These requirements are what companies aiming for certification, will be measured against and audited using.
ISO 14001 audits are not a measure of the impact on the environment, but rather a measure of the effectiveness of the environmental management system that the company utilizes. It is important to set achievable goals which will culminate in the achievement of ISO 14001 certification.
ISO 14001 has become a key factor for many companies, when selection of contractors is put under scrutiny. There are many countries who have made it know that they will favor ISO 14001 certified companies during any procurement process. There are a number of large companies who are undertaking practices geared towards ISO 14001 certification and there are numerous reasons for this decision. These include the ability to identify areas where energy and resource consumption can be reduced, the reduction of risk and liability, and of course conformance with regulatory requirements.
ISO 14001 is not a mean of measuring emissions, but it does negate laws and regulations by which companies must govern, with a distinct aim of reducing pollution. It is not a system-based standard as opposed to a product-based standard. It is a system that offer companies a plan to follow in order to manage the environmental impact of their operations.
There are a number of requirements that must be met, if you are to successfully begin the implementation process and aim for certification.
The company needs to have a publicly available environmental policy which is put in place by the management of the company and complied with by all. The policy should be designed to apply to the operations of the particular company and it must show commitments towards the prevention of pollution and reduction of the environmental impact.
The policy needs to be grounded in processes and procedures which identify environmental aspects and their impact. These procedures need to be compliant with government regulations and the policy itself. All objectives and targets must be documented and recorded and they must be consistent with the goals set out by the environmental policy. There must always be a continued effort to improve on the existing and prevent pollution of the environment.
The environmental management team consists of a number of employees. Each employee needs to have well-defined job descriptions and be totally clear on what their part of the process is. Each employee needs to understand the impact of their work on the environment. It is the responsibility of the company to ensure proper training is given to all employees in this respect.
The environmental management system needs to allow for easy internal communication. All reports, documents, and results need to be readily accessible by anyone in the company who may require them at any time.
It is imperative that processes and procedures are reviewed and documented regularly to ensure that there is continual improvement and that the environmental management system is effective. Management needs to ensure that an internal audit is carried out annually.
It is becoming more and more viable for companies to obtain the ISO 14001 certification as opposed to simply applying the standards to the company operations. Where your company trades is an important factor in your decision to obtain certification. Many companies who trade in Europe for instance, are required to submit their certification along with other ISO certifications such as 14001. It is becoming more and more prevalent that the public as well as companies whom you supply to are requesting this certification as proof that your company is doing their part to impact the environment less. With all the recent talk of global degradation, companies no longer want to be associated with companies who are not certified and have proof of their involvement in protecting the environment.
If you are in a trade where competition is high, you may have to consider going for certification if some of your major competitors have obtained it. You will be simply taking your company out of the equation if you don’t.
What must be remembered is that this certification can be very costly and if undertaken, there needs to be commitment from all involved, to achieve. Obtaining the certification will in the long-term ensure that your bottom line yields a higher figure. You are doing the environment which provides for industry a service, as well as your own company.
There are really no reasons why a company should not want to obtain this certification, there are no negative effects, not counting the workload. A team who works towards a common goal, in unity, will achieve success and they will understand from all aspects what their own impact and the impact of their work is on the environment, and how important it is for everyone now and in the future, to lessen this huge carbon footprint mankind is leaving in their wake. After all which company wants to be synonymous with the destruction of the planet?? I am certain none. Not really a terrific sales pitch for any company is it? Do your research, make the commitment, and achieve that certification.