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Environmental ISO 14001

The awareness of environmental conservation is not a new concept as many environmentalists around the world have raised their concerns about environmental pollution. Everyone is now aware of their role in conserving the environment for future prosperity. Even though we cannot eliminate environmental pollution, we can greatly reduce it by being aware of our contribution to it.

Different industries from across the world are the major contributors to environmental pollution that result in climate change such as drought and the much talked about global warming. The world would not just sit and watch the destruction of the environment without having regulations and standards that companies and organizations have to adhere to when it comes to environmental pollution. Even if it is a permitted pollutant, there is a set limit for it.

What is Environmental ISO 14001?

ISO 14001 is part of the ISO 14000 family of standards that are designed for maintaining the environment and ensure the safety of all the living features on earth. Destruction to the environment due to pollution directly affects life on it, and that is why environmental pollution is discouraged by strong regulations.

ISO 14001 sets a framework for the organizations to set up an environmental management system that makes it possible for them to reduce the number of processes that directly impact the environment negatively and also comply with the applicable government laws that protect the environment. The same standards also specify how an organization can improve on any of the above-mentioned areas.

The latest ISO 14001 standard is the third edition that came into force in 2015. This ISO 14001:2015 specifies all the criteria for designing and implementing environmental management systems. This is an international standard that is used by virtually all the organizations that are aiming at improving their environmental objectives and also achieve them.

This standard is published and distributed by the International Standard Organization (ISO). This is an international body that accepted worldwide and charged with the responsibilities of setting up many different international standards. Currently, you have the choice to implement these standards and gain from the benefits. It is all voluntary, but why should you not accept them if they are accepted worldwide?

The Objectives of ISO 14001

ISO 14001 has objectives that each organization should achieve should it choose to implement it. There is what these standards aim at apart from just conserving or protecting the environment. These standards enable organizations to:

  • Identify how all its activities affect the environment. This covers the negative impacts that its products and services have on the environment.
  • Better understand how many different processes can be managed by implementing necessary controls that will reduce their impact on the environment.
  • Set environmental objectives and policies to be achieved.
  • Comply with all the environmental regulations that are set by the government and other stakeholders and continuously check for compliance.
  • Continually improve the environmental management system to increase its performance in protecting the environment.

What is an environmental management system?

We have talked much about the environmental management system (EMS) without defining what it is. That may be confusing to some people, especially those who are hearing the statement for the first time. We will dedicate this section to purely talk about the EMS.

EMS is a tool that is used in many organizations to reduce the environmental impact that their activities, products, and services have on the environment. An EMS is a universal system that is used in many different organizations regardless of the industry and size of the company. It encompasses all the methods and means of managing the environment.

Since an EMS varies according to the organization in question, it is not easy to define this system for each and every organization. For that reason, the ISO 14001 only provides the requirements and framework that companies can use to create, implement, and improve an EMS that is specific only to their organizations.

The main role of an EMS is the preservation of the environmental system, thereby saving our planet from the extremes of climate that can ruin a life. EMS also makes it possible for organizations to continually monitor and improve all of their processes that have a direct or indirect negative impact on the environment.

Environmental management system awareness

An EMS helps organizations to address both the immediate and long-term problems that their activities can cause to the environment. The awareness begins with the environmental management system assessments and also explore very many features that are as outlined below. Please note that this list does not exploit everything.

  • EMS components
  • How to implement an EMS
  • The cost of EMS
  • Integrated quality and EMS
  • EMS continual improvement

Getting into the nuts and bolts of ISO 14001

Some of the common challenges that businesses face today are how to take care of the environment and how to contain all the activities and products that we handle so that they don’ negatively impact on the environment. Implanting an effective EMS acco5rding to the ISO 14001 standards comes with some of the greatest benefits that you would love to hear. As much as this standard is all voluntary, we don’t see the reason why you should choose not to implement it.

Compliance to the ISO 14001 standards helps in reducing the negative impacts that our businesses have on the environment. You can clear your footprints and at the same time stay on the safe side of the environmental conservation laws set by the authorities.

The public image of your organization is another issue altogether that is addressed by this standard. Implementation of an EMS and consequently getting certification for it protects your company’s public image and comes with other tons of benefits that we will be discussing on our other post.

What is the structure of an EMS?

 

An EMS is based on the Plan-Do-Check-Act framework. If you have worked with the related standards such as the ISO 9001m or any other that uses high-level structure, then you should be familiar with the structure of this as well. The PDCA structure of ISO 14001 is as explained below:

This is the first stage where a complete review of the organization is made. This is to help in the identification of all the current and future processes that can have a negative impact on the environment. This review is also aimed at helping organizations in identifying how they have been contributing to environmental pollution and then set goals or objectives that are achievable. The goals should also be measurable so that the performance can be evaluated after a given period, say annually or semi-annually.

This is a very resource-intensive stage as the organizations will be actually allocating their resources towards the implementation of an effective EMS. Different members of the organization will be assigned different roles to play in the implementation of the EMS. All the procedures and processes are established and documented for record purposes. The implementation phase requires the contribution of all the organization staff beginning from the top-level management team.

You have to keep track of your EMS and its performance. This is what this part is for. The performance is measured and compared against the set targets is there is any progress or impact on environmental pollution. This is also the stage where internal auditing is done at specified intervals to help in finding out whether or not the EMS is on course.

You are now going to take action depending on the results that you have before you. The results are what will dictate whether or not you have to readjust the EMS system or encourage it. Normally, negative or constant results that have no change will call for a different approach. We cannot tell you what to expect, but if everything is done according to the ISO 14001 standards, then you should record a reduction in the environmental impact.

In summary, the structure or methodology that EMS uses is subdivided into different sections that are charged with specific roles as highlighted below:

  • Leadership
  • Planning
  • Support
  • Operation
  • Performance evaluation
  • Improvement

Generally, an EMS is a continuous process that never ends but gets better and better each day. You are expected to use the results from the evaluation to improve this system and reduce the environmental impact that your organization causes.

What do you need to implement ISO 14001 and get certified?

After you have received appropriate training (we will talk about this in the next section), you will implement the EMS as per the information that you already have. This is done and all the documentations also completed accordingly. Isn’t that all you need to get certified? Surprisingly, there is more to it than just that. Here is a brief description of all other things that you are required to do before you can get your company certified:

  • The first round of auditing
  • Management review
  • Corrective actions
  • Documentation review
  • Second round of auditing

If you want to know more about how to go about each of the above processes, then you can either contact us ISO-Pros directly or navigate our website to a page where we mainly focused on ISO 14001 certification.

Is ISO 14001 Training Necessary?

It is very essential to get appropriate training, not just training. There are many certified training centers where you can take an appropriate course depending on what you want to do. The three major courses are as listed below:

  1. ISO 14001 Awareness and Implementation Course
  2. ISO 14001 Internal Auditor Course
  3. ISO 14001 Lead Auditor Course

As the leader of an organization who is seeking ISO 14001 certification, you need to take the last course and/or the second course since you may be interested in gaining some knowledge on how to do internal auditing. You can even enroll some members of your staff to get the same knowledge.

Conformity assessment and surveillance

ISO 14001 is part of the ISO 14000 series as we have already mentioned. Let us repeat it again that it is voluntary to conform to the standards, but they are for your own good. You can implement an EMS according to the ISO 14001 standards and then seek certification for it.

There are two ways of getting certified. The first approach is by conducting an internal audit and making self-declaration if you are not interested in the actual certificate. Another approach is to allow the interested parties to evaluate your EMS for conformance or call an expert external to the organization to conduct an audit.

The second approach involves using a third-party organization for auditing and certification. This is the accepted market method that results in the actual issuance of a certificate. It makes you even stronger as you have solid evidence for conformity. However, to maintain your certification, you will have to maintain the standards as there will be periodic surveillance to check if you still conform to the ISO 14001 standards. The certificate can be revoked for any nonconformities. If you are going to go this way, then know that ISO-Pros got you covered. Just talk to our professionals!